Multi fuel Stoves

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Can anyone tell me why you can't burn coal in one of these stoves.
We don't want to buy an expensive one but all the ones we've looked at say you can't burn coal.


We are replacing an existing one which we burnt coal in and wonder if that is why a couple of inside plates have failed.


Having said that when we got it it said nothing about not burning coal.


For some reason we can't get in touch with the makers, I'm thinking they have gone bust but not sure.
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  • A._Badger
    A._Badger Posts: 5,855 Forumite
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    edited 5 November 2019 at 7:33PM
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    Housecoal produces a lot of soot, which clogs any inner passageways of your stove. It also leaves significant deposits in the chimney and, if fitted, chimney liner, posing a potential fire risk.

    For this reason, most stove makers insist that smokeless fuels are used instead.

    Re-reading your post, it's not clear which type of fuel your stove is intended for. Stoves designed for wood aren't really suitable for burning any kind of coal or even smokeless unless they have the correct kind of grate and suitable airflow.

    Hope that helps.
  • ANDY597
    ANDY597 Posts: 430 Forumite
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    You can get smokeless Coal which is anthracite based but we have always stuck to kiln dried logs for the reasons above.

    Id recommend bulk buying homefire kiln dried logs and a log store if you have the room.

    Occasionally home bargains have them for 4.00, 5.00 a bag or so but there website gives bulk options.
  • CakeCrusader
    CakeCrusader Posts: 1,118 Forumite
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    Mine's a multi fuel stove and I can burn both (smokeless) coal and wood. I have a grill above the base plate and it can be adjusted (wiggled) so that any ash drops through and I can adjust the air flow. I think log burners don't have a grill. The inside of mine looks like this; https://www.choicestoves.co.uk/product/ecosy-ottawa-5-defra-approved-multi-fuel-stove/ It's best to stick to logs if yours doesn't have a grill. I'd imagine coal is a lot heavier and it needs the air flow for it to burn properly so is more likely to damage the burner. Wood burns better on a flat surface.
  • SonOf
    SonOf Posts: 2,631 Forumite
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    Can anyone tell me why you can't burn coal in one of these stoves.

    We have a multifuel stove and it can burn coal. It is woodburning stoves (so wood only) that you cannot burn coal.

    Is it possible that who you are speaking to is mixing up terminology. i.e. have you used the phrase woodburner by mistake?

    Coal is not a great fuel to use in a burner as mentioned higher up and many professionals will advise against it for the reasons higher up (higher risk of explosive flash, potential damage to baffle, grates, liners and retainers etc). It is also usually not that cost effective due to its lower efficiency compared to alternatives. Indeed, your damage could well be due to use of coal previously.

    So, technically possible with multi-fuel stoves but usually not recommended.
  • Waterlily24
    Waterlily24 Posts: 1,328 Forumite
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    I'm finding the information online, most of the multifuel burners say you cannot burn coal in them. Definitely not interested in a wood burner. We always used the smokeless in our old multifuel burner.
    We can't get the spare parts for it as the maker seems to have gone out of business as far as we can tell.
    Looking for a replacement stove at a reasonable price but the cannot use coal confused me. Perhaps I'm not understanding the definition of coal, smokeless is coal isn't it?


    Thanks for the replies everyone.
  • matelodave
    matelodave Posts: 8,621 Forumite
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    edited 6 November 2019 at 7:03PM
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    Coal is a black tarry substance whereas smokeless fuel is either anthracite or manufactured from anthracite dust and sometimes cement (usually ovals and stuff).

    You need to be clear about what you are buying, if you ask for coal you'll get coal, if you want anthracite or smokeless fuel then that's what you have to ask for.

    Coal is fine on a open fire but clags up multifuel stoves and can burn and damage the grate. . Wood only stoves tend to have a closed non-vented firebed whereas multifuel stove may have an insert or control to restrict or close the airflow through the grate for wood.

    If you've been burning coal or an incorrect fuel type then that's possibly why your stove has failed, or it could just be old age.
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  • SonOf
    SonOf Posts: 2,631 Forumite
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    Perhaps I'm not understanding the definition of coal, smokeless is coal isn't it?
    Smokeless coal should be referred to as such and not be called coal. If you say just "coal" then people will assume you mean traditional coal. Referring to them as smokeless fuels may give you a better outcome.

    And remember that smokeless fuels differ. Anthracite, for example, has a lower heat, lighting and burn time compared to most of the other types.
    I'm finding the information online,

    Which can often conflict. For example, one site I just looked at said burning smokeless coal and firewood together can be beneficial to your appliance. Whilst another says It’s not advisable to burn both coal and wood on your stove at the same time as this can damage your flue lining. The sulphuric acid found in coal and the high moisture levels found in wood will combine to create a nasty solution that will stick to and erode your stove system. The latter is correct IMO.
  • Waterlily24
    Waterlily24 Posts: 1,328 Forumite
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    Thanks all, hubby said we used Taybrite (sp).


    Just measuring now to see what we can fit in the space lol. Think I'm clear now.


    The fire was getting on probably about 15 years old.
  • FreeBear
    FreeBear Posts: 14,843 Forumite
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    SonOf wrote: »
    And remember that smokeless fuels differ. Anthracite, for example, has a lower heat, lighting and burn time compared to most of the other types.

    Tried plain anthracite last winter. Found the stuff very difficult to light and it wouldn't stay alight. Ended up giving my supplier a call and got them to collect the unused bags.

    Now sticking to Taybrite and Phurnicite - Both give out plenty of heat and keeps the room nice & warm. For extra heat, I'll bung a log or two on.

    OP - Taybrite is a smokeless coal, so will be fine in any multifuel stove. As for your old stove, there is very little to go wrong. Firebricks and most types of glass are readily available. Alternatives for grate bars can often be found, and other parts could be fabricated. If you tell us the make & model of the stove and what spares are needed, I'm sure someone can point you to a source.
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  • A._Badger
    A._Badger Posts: 5,855 Forumite
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    edited 7 November 2019 at 11:16AM
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    SonOf wrote: »
    Which can often conflict. For example, one site I just looked at said burning smokeless coal and firewood together can be beneficial to your appliance. Whilst another says It’s not advisable to burn both coal and wood on your stove at the same time as this can damage your flue lining. The sulphuric acid found in coal and the high moisture levels found in wood will combine to create a nasty solution that will stick to and erode your stove system. The latter is correct IMO.

    As you say, this is quite a contentious point. It's not that smokeless fuel contains sulphuric acid but that all coal and manufactured smokeless fuels contain sulphur which is emitted when burned. It is claimed that the sulphur combines with moisture released from burning wood to produce sulphuric acid and, as you say, that then eats into the stainless steel liner.

    However, I haven't been able to find any reliable evidence that this actually happens. Like a lot of stove legend and lore it is widely repeated and almost as widely rejected. My sweep says it's nonsense and that the heat of a fire soon disperses any water vapour which doesn't get a chance to condense on the surface of a hot liner. The company that supplies my fuel says the same.

    More or a problem, I suspect, is that some smokeless fuels contain more sulphur than others and when first lit that sulphur can condense on a cold liner. It would certainly be helpful if someone could do some proper research into this as no one wants to have to replace an expensive liner. In any case, the advice often given to make sure a stove i run good and hot and not left to smoke or slumber too much, seems to make sense, whichever opinion is correct.

    Incidentally, you can actually find the average sulphur levels of each DEFRA registered fuel if you search online for it and, playing safe, I always try to use one of the lowest.

    Usefully, the same information, read the right way, can give you a very strong clue as to which fuels are being sold under various different brand names and also which contain petroleum coke (useful if your stove makers warns against using petcoke).

    For the OP (who is probably bored to tears by now!) as others have said, Taybrite is fine and you can most probably get your stove fixed. Ask the advice of a good sweep and look around online for suitable parts, as suggested.

    If you do have to buy a new stove, try to stick to one of the long established makers. When stoves became fashion items a decade or so ago, the rapidly expanding market saw a lot of opportunists buy in sometimes really quite poor stoves (usually from China) which they sold under reassuringly British quaint rural names.

    Not only were the stoves often quite poor but the importers sometimes didn't know very much about the products they were selling, nor did they stock spares. When they either went bust or moved on to the next fashion craze, they left customers pretty much high and dry. The longer established stove brands tend to be pretty good about keeping spares for their older models and usually make better made stoves to begin with.
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