Corn stove and clinker problems

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SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
I can see another added benefit and that is the house smells like a grain tank and that ain't all that bad. I just tested a batch of mine with the Delmhorst and it's showing 12.5% RM....thats right from the tank btw.
 

s12384j

New Member
Jan 9, 2015
2
wi
I'm new to the corn burning this year, but we actually have the same model stove, plus a snowflame that is almost the exact same thing as the amaizablaze 4100, we were having no problems with the clinkers in either stove until the last few days, been around 0 here, the only thing I've done differently is turn up the feedrate on the augers, and I think it was just a little too much, as I went back down to 4 last day or so and they have been coming out just fine again. Now, I don't know a lot about this but just a idea to look at for you to maybe narrow it down a little. I also didn't notice much difference in cleaning the corn verses not. Our corn is pretty dirty as it's left over from my grandparents farm, just what is left over in the grain bin (around 12% moisture and probably 8 or more years old)
 

Bioburner

Moderator
Aug 4, 2012
7,318
West central Mn
I can see another added benefit and that is the house smells like a grain tank and that ain't all that bad. I just tested a batch of mine with the Delmhorst and it's showing 12.5% RM....thats right from the tank btw.
I thought it smelled like one of the local ethanol plants or when we try and brew something.
 

denno

Member
Jan 13, 2015
12
Schoharie County, NY
I've come to the right place.

We got a corn furnace (Superior, from Ja-Ran) this winter.
It's now up and running. We have heat. And a host of questions.
Need to solve the clinker problem. (A lot of info on that subject in this thread, but I am sort of OCD so naturally I can think of more).

Basic questions and observations about the heat. We had a 30+ yr old clunker of an oil-over-wood furnace that was disintegrating and fixing to burn the house down, but man did it burn hot.
First observation is that the primordial pleasure of standing over the register and basking does not seem to be part of the new furnace. Air coming up is just semi-warm.
QUESTION #1 is that the nature of a corn furnace?
---> We had it pointed out that there were not enough, not well-strategically-located cold returns in this old retrofitted farmhouse, for max net heating. We've added one, working on another. (Have to dig out the crawlspace under the kitchen so it can be crawled. Watching Stalag 17, etc. for inspiration. Seems some improvement.
OBSERVATION: For a couple days recently the vented air seemed warmer. This was after I cleaned the clinkers offa the burn pot jets and mixed some oyster shell into the corn.. Then it reverted. For awhile last night it warmed up again. Can't figure out the science of this.

OBSERVATION: With that old monster furnace we were lulled into thinking this old house was pretty tight. Now that we are dealing with steadier but cooler heating, we find it is not Much weatherstripping and some insulating to do. Fair enuf.
We have a parlor wood stove to get us toastier at least downstairs. Putting fans in two passive registers to draw more heat upstairs where we depend mostly on warmth coming up a good- sized staircase; use some elec up there. There is an active register in the bathroom, tho not, as I say, as warm as before.

Those things said, we are going through 3-5 bags of corn a day, depending on temperature --- of which we've had rather little for the past several weeks and no great relief in sight.
This is not as advertized.

Now, I am learning that corn heat is not effortless. We had the notion that you put 25 bags into the hopper and went upstairs for two weeks, adjusting only the thermostat in the dining room.
Don't b'leeve the first round of online research goes into the facts being discussed in this thread. Just, "clean, cheap, sustaining...."
Nonetheless, this is okay too. The wood clunker was so old and leaky it could not be damped down overnight---had to get up twice to feed it. And handling wood is scarcely effortless. This will be an improvement when we get it understood and under control. So I fervently hope!

So i guess QUESTION #2 is, is this thing working right? Whatever happened to "A bushel of corn will heat the average house for a day"? And "A bushel of corn produces a cup of ashes"?
Let's discuss residue. There's a fair amount of whitish clinker. There's not a whole lot of white powdery ash, though that is what gets deposited on the walls of the burn chamber, which I am told is correct---burning hot enough. There's a whole lot of black residue. Some is or can be mashed between the fingers into pretty fine grain or powder. Some remains hard. I mean, the mass of it has the appearance of burned chunks the size of corn grains, but can be crunched down to sand or dust. Some of it can't be so mashed. Not exactly unburned grains, but really not reducing to naught.
Should it be? I can provide pix if it helps analysis.
Is there something here that means the feed should be slower and the combustion more complete? [There isn't any augur control, but I can put in a rheostat, unless that would screw up the motor].

NEXT: Corn itself. First, I'm having a hard time finding many suppliers. Corn is indeed grown in this agricultural valley, but there's about one guy who grows, cleans, dries his own. $7 a bag, I suppose less in bulk. [Bulk is going to take some arranging. Doubt that She Who Must Be Obeyed wants a gravity trailer permanently parked by the front door where the basement chute for wood is. Not so sure I do. We can work on ways and means if it's worth it.] Alternate is a small feed supply. $5.75 a bag. Supposedly they are both doing things right with the corn. But at the latter place I see a lot of cob and stalk in there. Neither is dusty. Agway probably sells it too, haven't checked. TSC sells pellets, dunno about corn---they don't advertize it.
This seems to be about the lot.
Fellow who sold us the stove and lives up Michigan or somewhere, as some of you do, is always railing at me that corn is 'way cheaper than that. Is he reading the commodity pages, or are you up in the belt enjoying a better price?
AND: I can only believe what they tell me about the moisture content. Can try my fingernail or do I buy a moistureometer?
My basement is wet. Weird groundwater situation. We're at 2000 feet, but the well never goes dry, and the basement is always damp if not wet. I think a much deeper sump might help. We've talked about a heavy-duty dehumidifier. Kind of an expense, as they cost to run and only last a few years.
The bin came with a lid 3/4" too short. (This is a company of only a few people, and human error is not unthinkable). They have promised me a new one, though I can probably do a little sawing, hammering, and welding and correct it myself. I'm putting in corn so frequently I don't even keep the lid on.
QUESTION #3 Is it important (when the stuff is on hand so short a time) to keep the bin covered tightly? Really, we're buying corn about twice a week. Sometimes I leave it in the car in its made-in-Indonesia poly or fiberglass woven bags, sometimes stack it on a pallet in the basement, mostly it goes into the hopper and gets used, all in a few days or less.
Is any of this causing the corn to be too "wet?" Would that be part of the problem?

This has to be enough for starters. I look forward to your expert and experienced input.
What I'm going to try next is adding some pellets. As is true with the oyster shell, though, the mixture is not going to be even. I put in a bag of corn, sprinkle some oyster shell over it, and stir a bit with a short shovel. Best I can do under the circs.
I might try the coat hanger thing, though it's not apparent that it will be effective with a bottom-feed. It's not the worst thing in the world to have to clean out the clinkers. Not sure the oysters are doing much, actually.
Going to go back to the older farmer guy and see if there is better result with his corn. And ask him some of these questions.

Looking forward to the conversation, TIA

denno
 
Last edited:

Watcher1

Burning Hunk
Sep 11, 2014
159
Ironton WI
I've come to the right place.

We got a corn furnace (Superior, from Ja-Ran) this winter.
It's now up and running. We have heat. And a host of questions.
Need to solve the clinker problem. (A lot of info on that subject in this thread, but I am sort of OCD so naturally I can think of more).

Basic questions and observations about the heat. We had a 30+ yr old clunker of an oil-over-wood furnace that was disintegrating and fixing to burn the house down, but man did it burn hot.
First observation is that the primordial pleasure of standing over the register and basking does not seem to be part of the new furnace. Air coming up is just semi-warm.
QUESTION #1 is that the nature of a corn furnace?
---> We had it pointed out that there were not enough, not well-strategically-located cold returns in this old retrofitted farmhouse, for max net heating. We've added one, working on another. (Have to dig out the crawlspace under the kitchen so it can be crawled. Watching Stalag 17, etc. for inspiration. Seems some improvement.
OBSERVATION: For a couple days recently the vented air seemed warmer. This was after I cleaned the clinkers offa the burn pot jets and mixed some oyster shell into the corn.. Then it reverted. For awhile last night it warmed up again. Can't figure out the science of this.

OBSERVATION: With that old monster furnace we were lulled into thinking this old house was pretty tight. Now that we are dealing with steadier but cooler heating, we find it is not Much weatherstripping and some insulating to do. Fair enuf.
We have a parlor wood stove to get us toastier at least downstairs. Putting fans in two passive registers to draw more heat upstairs where we depend mostly on warmth coming up a good- sized staircase; use some elec up there. There is an active register in the bathroom, tho not, as I say, as warm as before.

Those things said, we are going through 3-5 bags of corn a day, depending on temperature --- of which we've had rather little for the past several weeks and no great relief in sight.
This is not as advertized.

Now, I am learning that corn heat is not effortless. We had the notion that you put 25 bags into the hopper and went upstairs for two weeks, adjusting only the thermostat in the dining room.
Don't b'leeve the first round of online research goes into the facts being discussed in this thread. Just, "clean, cheap, sustaining...."
Nonetheless, this is okay too. The wood clunker was so old and leaky it could not be damped down overnight---had to get up twice to feed it. And handling wood is scarcely effortless. This will be an improvement when we get it understood and under control. So I fervently hope!

So i guess QUESTION #2 is, is this thing working right? Whatever happened to "A bushel of corn will heat the average house for a day"? And "A bushel of corn produces a cup of ashes"?
Let's discuss residue. There's a fair amount of whitish clinker. There's not a whole lot of white powdery ash, though that is what gets deposited on the walls of the burn chamber, which I am told is correct---burning hot enough. There's a whole lot of black residue. Some is or can be mashed between the fingers into pretty fine grain or powder. Some remains hard. I mean, the mass of it has the appearance of burned chunks the size of corn grains, but can be crunched down to sand or dust. Some of it can't be so mashed. Not exactly unburned grains, but really not reducing to naught.
Should it be? I can provide pix if it helps analysis.
Is there something here that means the feed should be slower and the combustion more complete? [There isn't any augur control, but I can put in a rheostat, unless that would screw up the motor].

NEXT: Corn itself. First, I'm having a hard time finding many suppliers. Corn is indeed grown in this agricultural valley, but there's about one guy who grows, cleans, dries his own. $7 a bag, I suppose less in bulk. [Bulk is going to take some arranging. Doubt that She Who Must Be Obeyed wants a gravity trailer permanently parked by the front door where the basement chute for wood is. Not so sure I do. We can work on ways and means if it's worth it.] Alternate is a small feed supply. $5.75 a bag. Supposedly they are both doing things right with the corn. But at the latter place I see a lot of cob and stalk in there. Neither is dusty. Agway probably sells it too, haven't checked. TSC sells pellets, dunno about corn---they don't advertize it.
This seems to be about the lot.
Fellow who sold us the stove and lives up Michigan or somewhere, as some of you do, is always railing at me that corn is 'way cheaper than that. Is he reading the commodity pages, or are you up in the belt enjoying a better price?
AND: I can only believe what they tell me about the moisture content. Can try my fingernail or do I buy a moistureometer?
My basement is wet. Weird groundwater situation. We're at 2000 feet, but the well never goes dry, and the basement is always damp if not wet. I think a much deeper sump might help. We've talked about a heavy-duty dehumidifier. Kind of an expense, as they cost to run and only last a few years.
The bin came with a lid 3/4" too short. (This is a company of only a few people, and human error is not unthinkable). They have promised me a new one, though I can probably do a little sawing, hammering, and welding and correct it myself. I'm putting in corn so frequently I don't even keep the lid on.
QUESTION #3 Is it important (when the stuff is on hand so short a time) to keep the bin covered tightly? Really, we're buying corn about twice a week. Sometimes I leave it in the car in its made-in-Indonesia poly or fiberglass woven bags, sometimes stack it on a pallet in the basement, mostly it goes into the hopper and gets used, all in a few days or less.
Is any of this causing the corn to be too "wet?" Would that be part of the problem?

This has to be enough for starters. I look forward to your expert and experienced input.
What I'm going to try next is adding some pellets. As is true with the oyster shell, though, the mixture is not going to be even. I put in a bag of corn, sprinkle some oyster shell over it, and stir a bit with a short shovel. Best I can do under the circs.
I might try the coat hanger thing, though it's not apparent that it will be effective with a bottom-feed. It's not the worst thing in the world to have to clean out the clinkers. Not sure the oysters are doing much, actually.
Going to go back to the older farmer guy and see if there is better result with his corn. And ask him some of these questions.

Looking forward to the conversation, TIA

denno

Ok, so lots of reading to get to here. I burn corn except last year when it was so pricy then went to pellets. I run a 3500 countryside ad used to have a baby countryside. 1. Clinkers, the harder you run the stove the more often yu are going t have to remove that. I tried coat hanger but a 1/4 threaded or smooth rod works better lasts longer you just need an l shape that will lay in the bottom of the pot and set you can get it with pliers or glove. The clinker pot/ you need to scrape it down from time to time and while it's out and your doing that clean the holes/ drill bit small file whatever fits. 2 corn, unless you are buying bulk or low market price 5 bucks or less switch to pellets. Story on buying corn at a feed mill by the bag. So they augered it over to the mill, then they will auger it up into a bin that they can fill the bags out of, by the time that is all done you will have a bunch of broken kernels like I had that you will feed to chickens. You need to find a farmer with his own bin so he can auger fill direct to your container think gravity box or your pickup bed. 3. corn cleaning needs to be done if you want a lot less dust in your home... U-Tube has lots of ideas. I use one I made out of PVC pipe a screen a shop vac. ad a 30 gallon barrel you could get by without the barrel. Hope this helps.
 

ryanissamson

New Member
Dec 19, 2014
12
Indianapolis
Well, I just wanted to check back in real quick.

Thanks for everyone giving suggestions, I think I've finally won the fight with my stove. I had been trying hangers which worked 50% of the time, but sometimes the clinker just solidified too much and broke the hanger. I recorded a YouTube video to show what I finally figured out, but honestly, it is common sense now that I think about it.



Here's the steps from the video:

For those who have corn or pellet stoves, you may have found out that clinkers can be a bit of a nuisance. I had the hardest time figuring out how to get the clinker out of my Amaizablaze stove and finally have it figured out. The problem was that it is somewhat liquid when very hot and needs to solidify a bit to come out. If the fire dies and the clinker dies out entirely, then clinker cements to the stove box and is a pain to get out. So, here's what I do:

1. Allow the clinker to build up, but not enough to affect the burn.
2. Turn off the hopper feeder.
3. Use your tool to push the corn from one side of the box to the other. This isn't always necessary, sometimes it just pops right out. By moving the corn to one side of the box, the clinker can cool a bit and solidify.
4. My example came out a bit too easy, but if it's melted, take your tool and scrape along the side of the box and the clinker, separating it as it cools. Now you can wedge your tool in and try to pry it from that side.

5. If it still is stuck, don't worry! Move the corn to the opposite side and repeat step 4 on the opposite side, scraping along and separating all the way to the bottom. This might take some digging.

6. If for some reason it's still very stuck, try along the front of the box. That should do it.

7. Discard the clinker outside of the box in this stove. My stove is finally burning nonstop. You'll still want to clean out your stove weekly and perform regular maintenance so that your stove doesn't fall into disrepair.​
 
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