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  • coal won't start with torch. WHY???

    Tried to get a coal fire going today. I've never burned coal or seen it burned in my life. I assumed it started fairly easy. WRONG!

    Candy finally figured it out and got it going. With wood it took me several years to just let her take over. Now it looks like she is the master of coal as well.

    My question is, why will coal and charcoal not light with a propane torch?
    I've got charcoal to light using a torch in a pinch but it takes forever and a day and acts just like the coal. The coal gets nice and red, starts a flame and dies as soon as I pull the torch away. Yet, set a lump of coal in a good bed of hardwood coals and it lights. I assume a torch puts out much more heat then a bed of coals so whats going on?

    My theory is, the torch emits intense heat focused on one area, burning the usable fuel in a flash, and leaves a slight coat of ash. The ash acts as an insulator and absorbs/reflects the rest of the incoming heat of the torch so the heat will not spread and ignite the rest???????

    Am I even close?
    INSIGHT PIPE is now Maine Drain Serving most of ME with no charge for travel! 207-431-6232 is nolonger a working # our NEW # is 207-355-1476
    Sewer main snaking (roto rooting). Sink clogs. Sewer backup. Pipe inspection/locating. No Dig trenchless repair. Root clog removal.We are NOT to replace your local Plumber, as we do not do plumbing. WE ARE YOUR DRAIN CLEANING EXPERTS!!! www.sewermaine.com waterville winslow bangor augusta skowhegan fairfield pittsfield oakland

  • #2
    Re: coal won't start with torch. WHY???

    I don't know, but one way to test the theory could be to put the coal on a metal plate and then heat the plate. There would be more retained heat in the metal and it would spread out I think, and no one part of the coal would have as intense heat as with the torch directly.

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    • #3
      Re: coal won't start with torch. WHY???

      High moisture content in the coal. Needs the wood fire to dry it before it will burn properly. I grew up shoveling the furnace.
      info for all: http://www.hoistman.com http://www.freeyabb.com/phpbb/index....wwtoolinfoforu --- "I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me."

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      • #4
        Re: coal won't start with torch. WHY???

        Originally posted by papadan View Post
        High moisture content in the coal. Needs the wood fire to dry it before it will burn properly. I grew up shoveling the furnace.
        Me two back in rural Mass. 1950s. remember the roar of the coal coming down the chute into the bin? Coke was more $$ folks didn't have it.When $$ was tight [ usually ] I got to skip school and cut wood! I liked that! Probably My teacher did also.
        I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

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        • #5
          Re: coal won't start with torch. WHY???

          Originally posted by toolaholic View Post
          Me two back in rural Mass. 1950s. remember the roar of the coal coming down the chute into the bin? Coke was more $$ folks didn't have it.When $$ was tight [ usually ] I got to skip school and cut wood! I liked that! Probably My teacher did also.
          Oh, I take it you lived in Gilbertville then huh?

          :}

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          • #6
            Re: coal won't start with torch. WHY???

            Originally posted by tailgunner View Post
            Oh, I take it you lived in Gilbertville then huh?

            :}
            Arlington Mass. then Cape cod. Dad bought our home and a couple of acres for $2000.00
            I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

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            • #7
              Re: coal won't start with torch. WHY???

              one more question about coal.

              will it absorb moisture?

              When we looked at the house the basement looked like someone sprayed a garden hose over every surface. EVERYTHING was dripping wet.
              Cause: some a-hole left the cap off the clean out. When did this happen? I suspect several years ago. Replaced the cap and ran a dehumidifier and everything dried out within a few days.

              Coal bin in basement 10' from clean out.

              Coal is still not burning like we think it should, it's burning, but wood fire is producing 3X's the heat. Old Century Crawford cook stove with warped wood grates (probably going to order/make new). I suspect the ash/small bits of coal clogging draft holes, reducing draft and not allowing coal to "breath".
              Because it's warped we can not "shake" the grates.
              Or, is it because the coal sat in such a wet environment for so long?
              INSIGHT PIPE is now Maine Drain Serving most of ME with no charge for travel! 207-431-6232 is nolonger a working # our NEW # is 207-355-1476
              Sewer main snaking (roto rooting). Sink clogs. Sewer backup. Pipe inspection/locating. No Dig trenchless repair. Root clog removal.We are NOT to replace your local Plumber, as we do not do plumbing. WE ARE YOUR DRAIN CLEANING EXPERTS!!! www.sewermaine.com waterville winslow bangor augusta skowhegan fairfield pittsfield oakland

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              • #8
                Re: coal won't start with torch. WHY???

                Gene

                You may have slag (worthless crap from coal mine) rather than quality coal. It (both) does absorb moisture, but if you have a good hot and fast burning wood fire under some coal it should flash the water to steam fast and the coal should start burning hot. Do you have a good air draft? You must supply lots of air so as to have ample oxygen to support combustion.

                By the way when they load coal into a dump truck, to keep dust down they many times spray it with loads of water. If you were to just dump dry coal down a coal shoot you would have fine black dust all over everything. What a mess that is!

                A good coal bin is setup above the floor and has a drain pan under it leading to a sanitary sewer line. Some people (as needed) have a small coal shed with bins and drainage system. In days gone by old farm houses had dirt floors and coal was just dumped on them. Talking about a huge mess to clean up.

                For everyone: When you want to start a charcoal or coal fire, gently fan it. A small table fan on low speed several feet back can really help. Bellows that you manually pump works wonders too if you can find them anymore.
                Last edited by Woussko; 10-02-2009, 09:57 AM.

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