Blacksmith Supplies – Choosing your Forge Fuel

Another vital component to your blacksmith supplies is the type of fuel to use in your blacksmith forge.  There are various fuels that can be used including charcoal, coal/coke, and propane/natural gas. Below we will go over the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Charcoal was the first fuel source used by blacksmiths and it is still used today by many blacksmiths.  Charcoal is made by slowly burning wood and is regularly made by blacksmiths.  Making your own charcoal can save you money on fuel costs and since charcoal and coal for blacksmithing is not always widely available, this is one option a lot of blacksmiths choose to do. 

Coal, more specifically bituminous coal, is a soft coal and one of the most abundant types of coals that is mined in the world.  Unlike charcoal, coal does not need to be made and is ready to burn as soon as it is mined out of the ground.  Coal, like charcoal, produces up to approximately 15,500 BTUs.  However, the advantage of coal over charcoal is that pound for pound, it takes less coal to fire your forge and produce your ironwork.  When choosing coal for blacksmithing, be sure that you buy coal that has the least amount of impurities you can find.  Never buy coal with a high level of sulfur because it is not good for steel which makes it more brittle. The disadvantage of coal is that it does produce soot and smoke which can be hazardous for your health.

Coke is made from coal.  Coke is produced when all the impurities in coal, such as oils, gases and liquids, have been burned off.  When using coal, it is the coke that is directly used to heat up the iron and not the coal.  You can buy ready made coke but its really not necessary since coke is produced when burning coal.  It is also harder to start a forge fire with coke compared to coal.  The advantage of using ready made coke is that you will not have the fumes, soot and smoke associated with burning coal into coke.

Many blacksmiths are now using propane or natural gas as their forge fuel for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons is that a gas forge saves time and allows the blacksmith to focus on creating rather than tending the fire and ensuring the forge fire has adequate fuel.  A gas forge is also easier to use, especially for new blacksmiths, than coal or charcoal forges.  The most important reason to use a gas forge is your health.  Unlike the other fuels discussed above, gas does not give off dangerous smoke or fumes that could be detrimental to your health.  The only disadvantage in using gas is that some gas forges are limited in size compared to coal forges.

I hope this information helps you in choosing the fuel for your forge. 

 

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