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Thread: Wood vs Coal for heating/cooking

  1. #1
    Moderator & Team Gunsnet Platinum 07/2011 O.S.O.K.'s Avatar

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    Jul 2010
    MS Woods

    Wood vs Coal for heating/cooking

    So what's the difference in buring rate, amount needed to generate x amount of btu's, etc.?

    I know that for folks that live on land and have a constant supply of wood from downed trees, etc. there's no need or want for coal.

    But if you have to purchase the fuel.... then would coal be a more efficient fuel?

    It sure stores better.... doesn't rot like wood or attract insects.
    ~Nemo me impune lacessit~

  2. #2

    They look neat.

    Other than a soup pot on top of the stove I am not too sure about cooking with coal.

  3. #3
    Moderator & Team Gunsnet Platinum 07/2011 O.S.O.K.'s Avatar

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    MS Woods
    I was thinking about a chart or some information showing burn rates, btu per pound or something like that.

    But that did establish that coal is easier to deal with and regulate...

    I wonder if I can find $200/ton coal in 40 pound bags... locally.

    I've done some looking around and I mostly find landscaping supply type places listed for coal...
    ~Nemo me impune lacessit~

  4. #4
    Guns Network Contributor 04/2013 El Laton Caliente's Avatar

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    Jul 2010
    In the East Texas woods
    My guess, living south out of coal county, is that coal is more BTUs by weight and would burn hotter. In the stove you posted you could cook anything that goes into a pot or pan. It does not work in a grill or smoker but you can have separate BBQ wood for that. It should store longer & easier, but might be more of a fire hazard.

  5. #5
    Bear in mind that there are different grades of coal. The lower grade coal creates more slag and doesn't burn as hot. I have a wood stove and a coal stove in my shop. Use the coal stove when the temps got real cold to heat the larger part of my shop. It does get it warm but smells and creates a gray smoke that my neighbor complains about. It actually gets so hot that you can't sit close to it. If you try to regulate the heat with the damper then you create more smoke. I much more prefer the wood stove. I was lucky enough to get a couple dump truck loads of coal for free so that's the only reason I use it. You're right about the storage. I just have it piled up in the open in a pasture and fill up 5x5 gallon buckets of coal and keep in the shop so it'll be dry. A bucket of coal would last about 6-8 hours and there would be coals left in the mornings but not enough to start the fire unless I filled it up around 9 at night.

  6. #6
    I've used both and I prefer coal.

    Real heat from a woodstove comes when you build a coal bed. That's the constant heat that really warms your home. With coal you get that right away.

    The only downside is the dirt. Think woodstove x3.

    When you start a coal fire you have to leave the damper wide open for the first 20 minutes or so. If you don't, gasses can build up and explode. I've had it happen. It'll blow your clean out door open....shoot quite a fireball out of the top of your chimney.

    But I could leave my coalstove alone for 14 hours and it would still be heating my house. I like that about it. Screw with it twice a day and that's it.

    Also, coal was selling her for about 55 bucks per ton. I could heat the entire winter on 150 bucks.

  7. #7
    Conversion Factors
    Average Energy Content of Various Fuels

    1 kilowatt hour of electricity = 3413 British thermal units (Btu)
    1 cubic foot of natural gas = 1,008 to 1,034 Btu
    1 therm of natural gas = 100,000 Btu
    1 gallon of crude oil = 138,095 Btu
    1 barrel of crude oil = 5,800,000 Btu
    1 gallon of residual fuel oil = 149,690 Btu
    1 gallon of gasoline = 125,000 Btu
    1 gallon of ethanol = 84,400 Btu
    1 gallon methanol = 62,800 Btu
    1 gallon of gasohol (10% ethanol, 90% gasoline) = 120,900 Btu
    1 gallon of E-85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) = 90,500 Btu
    1 gallon of kerosene or light distillate oil = 135,000 Btu
    1 gallon of middle distillate or diesel fuel oil = 138,690 Btu
    1 gallon of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) = 95,475 Btu
    1 pound of coal = 8,100 to 13,000 Btu
    1 ton coal = 16,200,000 to 26,000,000 Btu
    1 ton wood = 9,000,000 to 17,000,000 Btu
    1 standard cord of wood = 18,000,000 to 24,000,000 Btu
    1 face cord of wood = 6,000,000 to 8,000,000 Btu
    1 pound of low pressure steam (recoverable heat) = 1,000 Btu

    Here ya go

  8. #8
    BTW Mark, I could fit just about a ton of coal on the back of Chevy S-10.

    So imagine 1 small pickup load per ton and you get a general idea.

  9. #9
    Moderator & Team Gunsnet Platinum 07/2011 O.S.O.K.'s Avatar

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    MS Woods
    Thanks HDR - you found it

    So coal is roughly almost twice as efficient as wood (average "wood").

    I would personally want both coal and wood.

    Good to know about the gas thing "boom"
    ~Nemo me impune lacessit~

  10. #10
    Good things?

    Foo Gas can be used in a pipe, or more commonly, a 55-gallon drum of electrically detonated napalm or similar mixtures to napalm. Its detonation causes a brief sheet of fire similar to a flamethrower to shoot upward or outward. Foo gas was developed for perimeter defense during Vietnam, and was used extensively by U.S. Special Forces. This was a perimeter style defense weapon at Fire Bases. Foo gas comes in modified 55-gallon drums, which can be interlocked like a chained. It can also be used in empty metal artillery containers.

  11. #11
    Iron Pumping Bastard aliceinchains's Avatar

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    Jul 2010
    Lancaster County PA
    My stove will burn coal or wood. Coal will burn hotter and much longer then wood depending on how much you regulate it. Plus the fact wood does not burn like coal. With wood you have big air spaces between pieces. Coal is always contacting each piece and burns much more effcient.
    I am sitting in my angry chair!


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