Can You Burn Wood in a Coal Stove?

Have you thought about how expensive it is to keep a house warm? The cost also depends on the size of your home. If your home is massive, be ready to spend a fortune to keep it warm during the cold winter period. 

And what’s more, the cost of heating isn’t decreasing anytime soon. It’s only increasing. And the increase is forcing many individuals to seek other alternatives. 

Most people have found the old coal stove as a pocket-friendly option to cut heating costs. But again, finding pieces of wood for the stove is way cheaper than getting coal in most places. 

So, even though there’s no indication on most coal stoves that one can use wood, most people are asking the same question; “can you burn wood on a coal stove?”

Well, yes is the answer. But you have to cut the wood to size so that it can fit in. Now, let’s dive into other relevant questions. 

Is It Safe To Burn Wood in Coal Fireplace?

If you want to know if burning wood in a coal fireplace is possible since the fireplace is for coal, the answer is yes. By the way, coals ignite at temperatures 100 degrees more than wood. So, yes, your coal stove can withstand the heat from burning wood. 

However, burning wood in a properly constructed fireplace is also very important safety-wise. And you have to open the chimney properly to send the smoke and other byproducts away from the building.   

Again, understand that wood-burning needs slow fire, which causes the emission of a massive amount of creosotes. The creosote builds up in the flues and if not cleaned, it could cause a chimney fire. 

A Handy Tip: Stove and chimney cleaning is essential, but have in mind that the process can increase the total cost of heating your home via wood-burning.

Furthermore, several factors determine if wood burning in a coal fireplace or even in a wood stove itself is safe. Let’s run through the said factors. 

1. Wood type

Is the wood wet, dry, or seasoned? Remember that wet woods tend to generate more smoke and are not safe. More smoke means higher carbon monoxide in your building. 

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The fact that you can’t smell carbon monoxide makes it even more dangerous. So, it’s best to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Additionally, avoid burning wet wood in your fireplace. 

Instead, choose dry and seasoned woods. They don’t generate much smoke when burned, and likewise, they would produce lower particulate matter, which are dangerous pollutants in high amounts. 

A Handy Tip: Choose woods that boast high density if you want your fireplace to have long-lasting fuel. Examples of woods you should consider are oak, hickory, rock elm, and some maples. 

Again, desperate times call for desperate measures. But please, don’t apply this popular saying to your fireplace. If there’s a sudden power outage, most people might desperately want to ignite their fireplaces as quickly as possible. And consequently, they wouldn’t mind using flammable materials. 

Before you do such, think about the dangerous fumes the material would produce in your home. So, is it worth it? No! Now, light your wood the proper way.

2. Burning treated wood

Burning the wrong wood can make your fireplace unsafe for everyone in your house. It’s better not to light up the fireplace at all than to do so with the wrong type of wood. If you throw treated wood in your fireplace, you could damage your family members’ respiratory system and general health. 

So, how’s this possible? During the production process, most woods undergo some chemical treatments. The chemicals used are toxic. So, when you burn such woods, the poisonous chemical is released into the air.

A Handy Tip: Always check your woods properly before you have them burned. Remember that old woods tend to have mold or might have started rotting. And burning such woods can be super dangerous.  

It’s also essential to avoid putting stained, painted, or pressure-treated woods in your fireplace.

3. Burning allergic plants

Burning plants might seem like a terrific way to keep your fireplace up and running, but there are specific reasons you shouldn’t consider that as an option. If you make the mistake of burning allergic plants, you could mess up your respiratory system.

So, what are those allergic plants? Well, examples are plants that boast urushiol oil. These include poisonous oak, poisonous ivy, and poisonous sumac. If you dare to burn or touch any of these plants, you may likely suffer an allergic reaction. 

Now, while gathering leaves and plants to keep your fireplace going ensure you have proper knowledge of them before even getting close to them. 

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Can You Burn Corn in a Coal Stove?

Yes, you can burn corn in a coal stove. But it would be best if the burner had an agitator in the stove’s burn pot. Why? The reason is to help in breaking up the clinker.

Nonetheless, if your stove doesn’t have, use every means possible to prevent the formation of clinkers. Clinkers refer to the part of the burned material that won’t burn. 

A Handy Tip: You can make the corn and coal 50/50. Or, you can decide to burn only corn. It’s your choice.  

Please, ensure that the shelled corn is dry. Moisture content should be 15 percent or less. Note that corn with higher moisture would have a lower heat value and spoil in storage, resulting in low quality. 

Your shelled corn should also be free of fines. Remember that dirty corn, which boasts cob pieces and fines, might cause issues for your fuel delivery system. 

Furthermore, shelled corn’s heat energy value is much closer to that of wood. At 15 percent moisture content, shelled corn’s energy value is 16,200 KJ/kg, while air-dried wood’s energy value is 17,400 KJ/kg. 

Will A Wood Stove Burn Coal?

No, but a multi-fuel stove can. The reason why wood stoves can’t burn coal is that coal needs air to burn. In other words, there must be a source of air underneath the stove for coal to burn and warm your house.

Coal stoves have grates underneath, which makes air available to aid burning. Wood stoves don’t have and can’t even have a grate. 

Another reason you shouldn’t use a wood stove to burn coal is that coal burns hotter than wood. Thus, burning coal in a wood stove can permanently damage it.

Furthermore, coal leaves a high amount of ash when burned, and unfortunately, the woodstove is designed to handle such.  

Are Coal-Burning Stoves Safe?

Yes, coal stoves are safe if appropriately vented. Don’t forget to open your chimney before lighting your coal stove. 

If you don’t vent your coal stove properly, the outcome could be deadly. Carbon monoxide is created during coal’s combustion process and would build up and gradually overcome unsuspecting individuals. 

By the way, carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. So, it’s a highly poisonous gas and a tricky one to have around. 

Is Wood Burning Better Than Coal?

Well, the answer is subjective. Let’s strategically look into both options.

Wood can emit higher creosotes, which build up in the flues and can cause a chimney fire over time. 

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Coal isn’t only compact but burns steadily and well. However, different coal deposits do boast varied variants.

Additionally, coal-burning causes air pollution and the introduction of heavy metals to the air. It’s also one of the top causes of acid rain. 

Coal can also be quite expensive, though this depends on your place of residence. But compared to wood, coal might be super expensive. If you live where you can have access to plenty of downed woods, you won’t have to break the bank to keep your house warm. 

Coal mining’s environmental impact is long-term. It can give rise to water table pollution. 

On the other hand, wood creates carbon dioxide pollution like coal, but at a much lower level and produces less additional pollutants than coal. When wood is downed and burned to generate heat, it’s replanted. The new plant can also clear the burned or former wood’s CO2 deposit in the air.

So, even if a burning piece of wood generates carbon monoxide, another one planted in its places will clean it up. 

Furthermore, coal burns hotter than wood, but proper treatment can make wood logs burn more consistently. 

What Else Can You Burn in a Coal Stove?

Below are additional solid fuels you can burn in a coal stove besides coal. 

  • Wood
  • Shelled corn
  • Anthracite nuts
  • Straw
  • Corn stover
  • Premium wood pellets

Conclusion

So, can you burn wood on a coal stove? The straightforward answer is yes. Besides, coal and wood are solid fuels. Therefore, a coal fireplace can burn coal and wood. 

However, coal burns much longer and hotter than wood. So, with a smaller amount of coal, you can keep your house warm. You can also put other things in a coal stove beside the coal. But keep in mind that you can’t put coal in a wood stove. 

The reason you can’t put coal in a wood stove is that coal requires air to burn. So, the bottom of the stove should have a grate or a means where air can be available to make the coal burn. Otherwise, you’ll only be wasting your time.