Burning Coal In A Wood Stove – Is It OK? How To Burn Coal In A Wood Burning Stove

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Switching fuel options within your stoves may seem like an easy thing to do.

While you may think that you can easily switch to coal for a wood stove, it’s not the best idea for all wood burning stoves

If you want to use coal in your wood stove, there are several things you need to know before you do so. Not every wood-burning stove should burn coal, but some can.

We’ll look at which woodstoves you can use coal in and the pros and cons of burning coal.

Why You Shouldn’t Burn Coal In A Wood Stove

Wood Burning Stoves

  • US Stove, Vogelzang, Pelpro, Pleasant Hearth
  • ComfortBilt, RedStone, Muskoka, and many other brands
  • Range of wood, coal, pellet, multifuel stoves
View On Tractor SupplyView On Northern Tool

Potbelly Coal Stove

  • A cast iron coal burning stove
  • 80,000 BTU
  • Heats up to 1500 sq ft
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Rancher Coal Stove

  • A smaller coal burner
  • 60,000 BTU
  • Heats up to 1000 sq ft
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*Also check out the Dwarf Tiny Wood Stove range which can be used for both coal and wood.

If you have a traditional wood stove, you shouldn’t burn coal in it.

You’ll want to stick to firewood. You’re probably wondering why you can’t.

The main reason you shouldn’t burn coal in your wood stove is that coal needs space below the product with air to burn correctly. 

Most wood burning stoves don’t have an airflow source under where you’d put the firewood. 

Wood burning stoves have an air source above the fire, making them effective in burning firewood.

Almost all wood burning stoves are set up to have this space above the fuel to ensure the wood burns well. 

Manufacturers design wood burning stoves to collect ash at the bottom of the furnace. Firewood burns even better with ash and debris at the bottom, while coal doesn’t.

If you have a classic wood burning stove, you shouldn’t burn coal inside it, at least not without making the right modifications first.

Another reason you shouldn’t burn coal in your wood stove is that coal can reach much higher temperatures.

If you’re asking yourself, does coal burn hotter than wood?

It does!

While the base of your wood stove is fireproof, it’s not made to withstand the heat of the coal. Burning coal in the wood stove can cause permanent damage.

What Happens If I Burn Coal In A Wood Stove?

Many things can go wrong when burning coal on a stove that isn’t designed for coal burning.

The first is that the coal will more than likely not combust correctly. Improper combustion is not only bad for your stove but for you too. 

When fuel doesn’t combust appropriately, there will be more smoke. Inhaling an excessive amount of smoke isn’t good for anyone’s health. 

Another possibility is that carbon monoxide can be produced, which can cause headaches and even death at high levels.

Lastly, since wood stoves aren’t equipped to handle the heat of coal, burning coal can cause permanent damage to your wood stove.

You may also need to increase the heat shielding behind your wood stove.

You Can Burn Coal In Certain Wood Stoves

can you burn coal in a wood stove

If you’re wondering how to burn coal in a wood stove, you’ll need a multi-fuel stove.

They’re sometimes referred to as coal wood stoves too.

While a wood burning stove only allows air to get to the fire from the top, these stoves allow airflow to reach the top and bottom of the fire. 

There are also two controllable air vents since there is air reaching the top and bottom of the fire in a multi-fuel stove. This allows you to control the venting process regardless of which fuel you use that day. 

These stoves are designed to catch the ash and collect it to help the fire burn. A coal-burning wood stove will collect the ash, but it falls through a metal grate.

This way, you can still burn coal without it sitting on a pile of ash.

The metal grate is better for coal burning because it can withstand the higher heat of the coal.

Since it’s sitting on a metal grate, unlike it would be in a traditional wood stove, the coal won’t cause damage to the furnace.

Many pot belly stoves can burn both coal and wood.

Converting Your Wood Burning Stove To Coal Burning

You have a few options for those who want to burn coal in their wood stoves.

The first is to invest in a multi-fuel stove.

While it may cost more, it’s a sure way to ensure you’re burning the correct fuel in your stove and not causing damage. 

The second option you have is to see if you can turn the type of wood stove you have into a coal-burning stove.

Many wood stove manufacturers sell a multi-fuel conversion kit. These kits allow you to prepare your wood stove to burn coal. 

Conversion kits come with everything you need to burn coal in your wood stove safely, minus the coal.

In the kit, you’ll have an additional vent, an ashtray compartment, so the coal doesn’t sit on ash, and you can easily remove it, and a metal grate. 

These kits are great if your primary fuel source is wood, but you need coal for a short-term period.

If you want to burn coal regularly, investing in a multi-fuel stove might be better in the long run. 

Pros Of Burning Coal In A Wood Stove

One of the main benefits of burning coal is it produces a high heat level.

In addition to the high heat level, it can burn longer than other fuel sources, keeping you and your home warmer for longer. 

Since coal is more combustible than wood, it’s generally a better fuel source if you want to be less hands-on while a fire is burning.

You can leave the fire alone for longer without having to assist in keeping the fire burning like you would with wood. 

Coal can heat a larger space within your home and may allow you to spend less on your overall heating costs.

This fuel source does an excellent job of warming the area near the stove and the rest of the house as long as it keeps burning. 

Cons Of Burning Coal In A Wood Stove

Depending on where you live, coal may be more expensive than firewood.

Rural areas have plenty of wood available, and it’s usually a cheaper option, while in larger cities, coal has a lower price tag. 

When burning coal in a wood stove, it won’t be able to combust correctly, which can release extra smoke and other gasses into the air.

This can be harmful in larger quantities, especially for those with underlying illnesses like asthma.

If you try to burn coal in your wood stove, there’s most likely no place for the ash to go.

With a multi-fuel stove or one with a conversion kit, you have a pan that collects the ash for you and makes it ten times easier to clean in between fires. 

How To Burn Coal

Burning coal is simple.

Here are the steps you need to follow for burning coal in a fireplace: 

  • Start with a clean metal grate
  • Place two fingers in the center of the grate
  • Place the coal around the firelighters
  • Light the firelighters
  • Close the door and adjust the air controls as needed 

Coal Wood Stoves

Heating your home during the winter months is critical to your comfort and your health.

Wood burning stoves are classic and provide your home with the warmth you need. 

When the temperatures drop, coal may seem like the best fuel source because it reaches a higher heat level than firewood.

But can you burn coal in a wood stove?

You shouldn’t place coal in your wood burner – get a coal burner instead.

Traditional wood stoves aren’t made to burn coal, and improper combustion could cause severe damage to your stove and your lungs as it releases smoke and other gasses. 

You should only use coal in your wood stove if it’s a multi-fuel stove or you have a multi-fuel conversion kit installed. 

Next up, check out these fantastic wood cook stoves – not for those wanting to use coal either!

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