Coal has been used to heat homes and workplaces for centuries, but is it possible to burn coal in a wood stove?
Quick answer: It is not recommended to burn coal in a wood stove. While it is possible, it is not efficient and can cause damage to your stove. A coal stove needs a grate at the bottom in order to allow air from below the fire to burn efficiently. Without this grate, wood stoves won’t be able to burn coal properly.
If you’re thinking about burning coal in a wood stove, you should first understand the risks and cons.
This article will explore the pros and cons of burning coal in a wood stove and help you decide based on your specific needs.
Why Can’t You Use Coal In A Wood Burning Stove?
A wood-burning stove cannot use coal as fuel because it is not designed to do so. The two materials are burned at different temperatures, with coal requiring a much higher temperature to ignite. In addition, the wood-burning stove does not have a grate that would be necessary to hold the coal in place while it burns.
If you try to burn coal in a wood stove, you run the risk of damaging your stove and possibly even injuring yourself. Not to mention, coal is notorious for generating harmful emissions that can contribute to environmental damage.
Before trying to burn any type of fuel in your wood-burning stove, be sure to consult the manufacturer’s instruction booklet or call a qualified appliance technician.
Coal produces a lot of ash and soot when burned, which can clog up your stove and chimney.
Benefits of Burning Coal in a Wood Stove
Coal is abundant and inexpensive, making it an affordable option to heat your home compared to other alternatives. (It may be more expensive than wood, depending on where you live).
The main advantage of burning coal instead of firewood to heat your home is that coal burns more efficiently and provides more heat per unit of weight than firewood (approximately two times more BTU/hr).
The reason is that coal is a purely carbon-based substance just like wood but without any water.
The absence of water is what makes it lighter and hotter than wood.
However, it will only be feasible to use coal in a wood stove, comparing the disadvantages to the advantages.
Let’s talk about some of them.
Disadvantages of Burning Coal in a Wood Stove
Here’s why you should not burn coal in a wood stove:
#1 Damage to Wood Stove
Although a wood stove base can withstand the temperatures of burning firewood, it can’t do the same with coal.
The high temperatures of coal burning will warp the metal components and eventually cause the base to crack – In other words, permanent damage to your wood stove.
If you want to burn coal to heat your home, opt for a coal stove or multifuel stove that’s specifically designed for this purpose. These stoves are built with thicker walls and materials that can withstand the high temperatures of burning coal.
#2 Inefficient Combustion
Coal is a very inefficient fuel when burned in a wood stove. Although coal produces more heat than firewood, the heat is not sustainable to get the stove going.
This means you’ll have to use more coal than if you were using an option like wood, which will ultimately cost you more money overall.
Also read: 13 Ways to Improve Wood Stove Efficiency
#3 Chimney Blockage
If you’re not careful, spending time burning coal in a wood stove can result in blockages to your chimney.
As ash and soot accumulate over time, the flue will become clogged up and eventually collapse, leading to significant damage to your home
#4 Carbon Monoxide Emissions
When coal is burned inefficiently, it can produce harmful amounts of carbon monoxide.
This gas is poisonous and can cause health problems if exposure is prolonged, so avoid using coal in your wood stove if you’re worried about exposure.
Can I Burn Coal In a Multi-Fuel Stove?
Yes, you can burn coal in a multi-fuel stove. However, avoid burning standard house coal as it can clog your stove and produce harmful carbon monoxide emissions. Instead, opt for more expensive coal types that are specifically designed to be burned in wood stoves.
Is Coal Pollution Harmful?
Coal pollution is harmful because it can release toxic gases like carbon monoxide, which are poisonous and can cause respiratory problems.
Additionally, coal mining has proven to be one of the leading sources of climate change emissions.
So, whether you’re concerned about the environment or your own safety, burning coal in a wood stove isn’t worth the risk.
How to Convert a Wood Stove to Coal?
You can convert your wood stove to use coal as a burning fuel by following steps:
- First of all, The ash pan must be taken out and the stove must be cleaned completely with a wire brush, shop vac, steel wool, etc. There should be no wood particles left in the firebox.
- Light the coal to remove excess moisture before putting it into the wood stove.
- Arrange the coals in a single layer across the bottom of your stove’s firebox.
- Make sure no voids are there to trap the smoke.
- Avoid coal stacking over each other.
- Close all doors and vents before starting your first burn cycle.
- Start off with a small and hot fire.
- Slowly open the doors and vents, ensuring the coal is burning.
Can You Mix Coal and Wood In a Stove?
Just like you can’t burn coal in a wood stove without a grate, you also can’t mix coal and wood in a wood stove. This is because coal can might reach much higher temperatures than wood, and will eventually damage the stove base.
Coal produces more heat than wood, so mixing the two could result in a fire that is too hot.
Additionally, coal produces more fumes than wood, so mixing the two could create excessive smoke.
By now, you should have understood that burning coal in a wood stove is not the best option for energy production. Not only is it an environmentally hazardous practice, but also it can be dangerous if done incorrectly.
If you’re still determined to use coal as your primary source of heat, make sure to follow proper safety guidelines and don’t do so without proper ventilation.