Burning charcoal in a fireplace might sound like a good idea, but the truth is that it can be very dangerous.
Depending on the type of fireplace you have, using charcoal in a fireplace could be a bad idea.
Some fireplaces are suitable for burning charcoal when built outside or designed for charcoal.
Other fireplaces should never be used for charcoal because charcoal burns hotter than wood and releases more dangerous carbon monoxide.
Can You Use Charcoal In A Fireplace?
If you have a standard fireplace, then using charcoal in your fireplace is not a safe practice.
Most fireplaces are made for burning wood, and charcoal has very different characteristics.
Charcoal burns at a much higher temperature than wood, although it may take longer for the charcoal to get up to temperature.
Like the kind you might find in someone’s living room, a standard fireplace can only withstand the specific amount of heat produced by wood.
The heat produced when charcoal burns is often too much for an ordinary fireplace and chimney to withstand. It can damage your fireplace and increase the risk of a fire in your home – similar to burning coal in a wood stove.
Using lump charcoal in a fireplace is never a good idea.
Carbon Monoxide Danger
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas most commonly produced through thermal combustion. It is undetectable without the proper tools and poses a severe threat to humans.
When charcoal burns, it releases carbon monoxide. So when you burn charcoal inside ina fireplace, some will likely escape into the room.
When it’s present in the air, carbon monoxide quickly enters your bloodstream and leads to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Wood also produces carbon monoxide, but not in the same quantities as charcoal.
One reason it’s safe to burn wood in a standard fireplace is that the fireplace and chimney are made with an airflow system that can handle the amount of carbon monoxide produced by burning wood.
Charcoal produces much more, and so there’s nowhere for it to go but into the air.
Either way, make sure you have a good carbon monoxide detector if you are burning anything inside.
When Can You Burn Charcoal In A Fireplace?
Burning charcoal requires more ventilation for safe use within your home.
The extra carbon monoxide means a greater chance of it sitting in the air and infecting your bloodstream in the house.
For this reason, a standard fireplace designed for wood is not a good place to burn charcoal. It won’t ventilate properly and could lead to serious health problems for anyone in the house.
You should never use charcoal in a wood fireplace.
However, you can install a charcoal fireplace with better ventilation and a higher heat capacity if you want to burn charcoal in your house.
You can also use charcoal outside in a fire pit grill or barbeque.
Charcoal grills are a very popular option for cooking outdoors.
The primary difference between burning charcoal in these circumstances is that being outside in the open air gives the heat and carbon monoxide a place to go besides your bloodstream.
You may also be able to burn charcoal in a wood-burning stove.
The stove will likely have a different ventilation system that allows the carbon monoxide to escape your home without posing a significant threat to you and your family.
Precautions to Consider
Before burning charcoal on a wood-burning stove, you ought to consult with a professional.
They will be able to tell you if the ventilation system is adequate for burning charcoal.
Even if you have a stove inside that might be safe for burning charcoal, many experts would recommend never burning charcoal inside.
Even if proper ventilation exists, the risks are still high that you could suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The best way to burn charcoal is outside in the open air. And because charcoal burns hotter than wood, it may help keep your flames crackling longer if you throw some charcoal in the fire pit.
Burning charcoal might be your preference, whether for the unique smell or cost-effectiveness.
Charcoal tends to cost less than wood. And since it burns longer and hotter, it can go farther than a bundle of wood.
However, burning charcoal in your home fireplace is dangerous for a couple of significant reasons:
- It releases potent levels of carbon monoxide
- It burns hotter than wood
- It can damage your fireplace and chimney
- It can increase the risk of fire in your home
If you want to burn charcoal, your best bet is to keep it outside.
The open-air is the best ventilation source for charcoal fumes, keeping you and your loved ones safe from unpleasant carbon monoxide risks.
You should never burn charcoal in your fireplace.
Most homes have a fireplace designed to handle wood, not hotter-burning, carbon monoxide-full charcoal.
If you wish to burn charcoal, consider taking it outside. It’s perfectly safe to burn in a fire pit, a grill, or an outdoor stove.
Check out the Tiny Wood Stove Dwarf range for many small multifuel burners.