Page 1 of 1

Bituminous coal?

Posted: Sat May 05, 2018 3:37 pm
by mn outdoors north
Hello guys and gals...I was able to pick some coal up the other day...the fellow said it was Bituminous coal or heating coal...I am not so sure? I have not tried it yet in my forge.. I brought some over to a friend and he is going to test it out...we compared it to his and this is a lot harder than there any real way to test the structure or properties of this coal in a scientific way... thanks in advance...if any of you guild members are close to excelsior by lake Minnetonka, you are welcome to come and try it does have some fine dust with it but I am in the process of separating this out...anyone have any good ideas on how to do this? do I just buy a screen and sift it out? say 1/4"x1/4" mesh... I have so much I will never use it all...just asking 5.00 for a 5 gallon bucket...


Re: Bituminous coal?

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:30 pm
by Martin Pansch
Hi Gary.

Since no one else has chimed in I'll take a poke at it.

Mystery stoker coal is usually it is anthracite which is harder than bituminous. Some works okay in a forge, some not much. Often it is in much larger lumps than what is ideal for forges. I've seen some bigger than my fists.

There are ways of lab testing coal. If you get coal from a mine you can ask for analysis. You should get something like this:

I don't know what it would cost to run the tests on coal, or even if there are any labs around here that could do it as we have no coal mines. You would probably have to call around and check.

Really though, if you aren't dealing in multiple tons it doesn't matter too much. The analysis is an indication of how it should behave. For centuries before us the only tests were how it behaved in the forge. Does it burn hot and clean? Coke well? Clinker well? Can you forge weld well in it? If so you got a great find no matter what the numbers say.

My luck with mystery coal has been hit or miss. I don't try to chase it anymore. The Guild coal pile is good smithing coal, relatively close by and $7 per 5-gallon pail. I'd rather be smithing than chasing and testing coal and a bucket of coal will last me a day or so of forging depending on the size of stuff I'm working on.

As far as sifting I think you have the right idea with screening it. If you have a lot I would imagine setting up something like an archeologists screen would make it go fairly fast and less back breaking.

Take care.