Wood heat

Published on April 17th, 2013 | by Henri

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Adding coal to wood in stove

Q.    I’ve enjoyed your column for years. Last fall I picked up (at a road side give-away) a couple of 40 lb. bags of anthracite coal. As our wood pile went down this winter, I began feeding a little of the coal — a handful at a time — to my glass-faced inset wood stove.

This fuel source worked wonderfully, basically helped to even out the heat and keep it going longer without getting too hot — I never had more than a single layer of the coals burning at a time. I checked outside a few times and never noticed any industrial type smell, so I assume burning the coal in with the wood didn’t bother the neighbors. Assuming I continue using the coal as carefully as I have, can you see any down side?

Finally, I’m wondering about the ashes. I typically store up wood ashes over the winter and gradually work them into the garden soil over the summer. Any problems you can see here?

A.    Although what you are doing is OK, wood stoves are not designed for burning coal. Coal needs to be shaken a couple of times a day and burns from the bottom. So don’t change the proportions you have been using since they didn’t cause any problems.

But do not spread or work the coal ashes into the garden as they are toxic to vegetation.

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