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    • hambrook
    • By hambrook 30th Oct 06, 2:13 PM
    • 286Posts
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    hambrook
    Solid fuel: Coal vs Coke?
    • #1
    • 30th Oct 06, 2:13 PM
    Solid fuel: Coal vs Coke? 30th Oct 06 at 2:13 PM
    Just ripped out ugly 1960's gas fore and found an open fire place. Chimney sweep coming later in the week. Now consider what fuel to use?

    In the past I have just bought the odd bag at petrol stations. Chatting with someone yesterday and they started saying that I should get coal to start the fire then coke which glows very warm. Asking someone else about this they mentioned Coalite (who I think have gone out of business).

    Sooooo:
    Should I use coal and coke?
    Can you still buy both?
    Any benefits / drawbacks?
    Is there a recommended brand I should use? (we are not in a smokeless zone)

    Yes there are a couple local merchants but want to test the whole thing before getting a wagon load of coal delivered!
Page 1
    • dannahaz
    • By dannahaz 30th Oct 06, 2:28 PM
    • 1,069 Posts
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    dannahaz
    • #2
    • 30th Oct 06, 2:28 PM
    • #2
    • 30th Oct 06, 2:28 PM
    Hi H

    Nothing beats a real fire, especially when it's not your main source of heating (so you can pick and choose when/if to light it).

    The Solid Fuel Associateion has some really great information about opening up an old fireplace and what fuel to use.

    This is a link to their downloadable guides, have a look at the third one down "sold fuels guide" http://www.solidfuel.co.uk/pdfs/index.htm.

    We use "Homefire" which is smokeless, and the most expensive - but the pieces last for ages and it gives our loads of heat. You don't really need separate coke to light the fire, you just use smaller pieces of it to get it going. Your local coal merchant will be able to advise you on whats right for you.

    Becuase you aren't in a smokeless zone (lucky you) you will have much more choice of fuels. But remember that if you choose to use a non smokeless fuel then you will need to get your chinmey swept twice a year, as the sticky residue builds up inside the chimney and can cause chimney fires.

    When we moved to our current house we didn't bring our old bunker with us, so we got the coal merchant to deliver and erect one when he brought the first load of fuel. Because we also have central heating (so coal is not our main source of heat) we got a small bunker, I think it holds 150kilos of coal.

    It's much better value to have your coalie deliver coal than it is to buy bags from the local garage. Unless you order over a certain amount (ours is 200kg) then you will probably have to pay delivery, but ours only charges £2.50 for delivery.


    If you want to know more before you order, your Coal Merchant will be able to advise you. If (like me) you'd prefer to know a but about it first, then you could perhaps visit your coal merchant and pick up a price list. I've just thrown mine away, otherwise I would be able to give you an idea of costs.

    For future years, it's much cheaper to buy your coal in the summer (apr - sept).

    Finally, your Sweep will be able ot tell you whether you need to have any other work done to the chimney before you can use the fire.

    We've had an open fire for the last twenty years and now I would not buy a property where it wasn't possible.
    • squeaky
    • By squeaky 30th Oct 06, 3:43 PM
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    squeaky
    • #3
    • 30th Oct 06, 3:43 PM
    • #3
    • 30th Oct 06, 3:43 PM
    Hi hambrook.

    This question should do well on the In my home board, so I've moved it across for you.

    Good luck.
    Hi, I'm a Board Guide on the Old Style and the Consumer Rights boards which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and can move and merge posts there. Board guides are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com. It is not part of my role to deal with reportable posts. Any views are mine and are not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.

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    • wendym
    • By wendym 30th Oct 06, 4:26 PM
    • 2,897 Posts
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    wendym
    • #4
    • 30th Oct 06, 4:26 PM
    • #4
    • 30th Oct 06, 4:26 PM
    Sadly, Coalite is no longer available.

    As you're lucky enough not to live in a smokeless zone, I'd stick to coal in proper big, and therefore long-burning lumps (from coal merchant) and find a source of logs.

    We light a fire throughout the winter, and I'm jealous of anyone who isn't stuck with beastly smokeless fuel.
    • hambrook
    • By hambrook 30th Oct 06, 4:30 PM
    • 286 Posts
    • 80 Thanks
    hambrook
    • #5
    • 30th Oct 06, 4:30 PM
    • #5
    • 30th Oct 06, 4:30 PM
    I thought I read that smokeless burns better / hotter? Also less chimney sweeping?
    • dannahaz
    • By dannahaz 30th Oct 06, 4:44 PM
    • 1,069 Posts
    • 4,413 Thanks
    dannahaz
    • #6
    • 30th Oct 06, 4:44 PM
    • #6
    • 30th Oct 06, 4:44 PM
    I thought I read that smokeless burns better / hotter? Also less chimney sweeping?
    by hambrook
    Yes to smokeless resulting in less chimney sweeping. Not sure whether smokeless burns better/hotter than non smokeless. (Homefire burns hotter than the rest of the smokeless bunch).
    • hambrook
    • By hambrook 30th Oct 06, 4:52 PM
    • 286 Posts
    • 80 Thanks
    hambrook
    • #7
    • 30th Oct 06, 4:52 PM
    • #7
    • 30th Oct 06, 4:52 PM
    "Homefire is a top quality fuel for open fires. The moulded pieces are shaped like a 50 pence coin. Although Homefire is a little difficult to light. it repays the user with long burning time."

    Do you use firelighters on there own to light Homefire or do you use paper and kindle as well?
    • dannahaz
    • By dannahaz 30th Oct 06, 8:47 PM
    • 1,069 Posts
    • 4,413 Thanks
    dannahaz
    • #8
    • 30th Oct 06, 8:47 PM
    • #8
    • 30th Oct 06, 8:47 PM
    Personally I use Zip firelighters (the ones that are individually wrapped, the non wrapped ones are too smelly). I put probably three pieces of kindling over it, like in an A frame, then some small pieces of coal, then another two or three pieces of kindling leading away from the firelighter, some more small pieces of coal.

    I light the firelighter, and then add a few full sized pieces of Homefire over the structure, and out towards the edges of the fireplace, making sure there are plenty of air gaps (Think of Kerplunk). The fire needs oxygen to burn.

    I find if I put too much coal on before it has got going, it tends to get smothered.

    I don't use paper as a starter because I find it burns too quickly, but that may just be that I don't have the knack with it.

    If I had small enough pieces of cokl I could probably manage without the kindling, but I've found the kindling method works for me. It catches easily from the Zip, and is slow burning giving the coal time to catch.

    Not sure if that helps?
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