A wood stove provides a great source of heating for the house. Since wood stoves operate by radiating heat, they can send warmth to all directions of a household. This function makes this device a powerful, efficient, economical heating system compared to many other heating systems. Thus, it can make your house look nice and cozy wherever and however you choose to place it.
Yet, many people may wonder whether a wood stove can burn coal, which is a more common fuel type than wood. If the question “Can you burn coal in a wood stove?” has been bothering you, the brief answer is no!
Coal cannot be burnt in a wood-burning stove. To burn efficiently, coal needs a source of air from a grate below the fire, which a wood stove does not have.
Read on to find out more explanation about this and a way to make your wood stove suitable for burning coal.
Why A Wood Stove Cannot Burn Coal?
The name of this device may have already suggested its functionality. A wood stove is designed to burn wood only.
Wood burns best from a source of air from above. Hence, a wood stove is set up to gather and supply air from above the fire.
Usually, a wood-burning stove has a controllable air vent underneath the stove and some uncontrollable vents in the back of the stove. This setup directs the air around the stove’s body and feeds this air to the fire, optimizing the wood-burning function of the woodstove.
Meanwhile, coal burns from a source of air from below the fire. Hence, a stove that optimizes coal-burning should have a grate at the bottom to generate air from below and feed the coal-burning process.
Wood’s way of burning is different from coal’s way of burning, so a device designed to burn wood cannot be compatible with coal. In a wood stove, there is no airflow from below. Even if air can be flowed from below, the ashes produced by the burning process would block the airflow from getting to the fire properly.
If you burn coal in a wood stove, it will produce smoke and contaminants like carbon monoxide from improper burning, which is unhealthy for users and detrimental for the stove.
Coal would be more compatible with a multi-fuel stove designed to burn different solid fuels like wood and coal. A multi-fuel stove comes with a removable ash pan that allows users to get rid of the blockage between the airflow below and the fire, making it easier for coal to burn.
Here is a short video about the difference between a multi-fuel stove and a wood-burning stove for your reference:
How To Make A Wood Stove Suitable For Burning Coal?
Specific models of the wood stove can be converted to a multi-fuel stove with a conversion kit from the stove manufacturer. This kit replaces the base part of the wood-burning stove. It also adds a metal grate, an ash pan, and an extra air vent to the stove to generate air from below, making the stove suitable to burn coal.
Hence, if you want to burn coal in your wood stove, you should get this converter to maintain your stove and protect the health of you and your family.
Is It Better To Burn Coal Or Wood?
Both coal and wood are excellent sources for heating, and they provide the same amount of heating per unit. Yet, in terms of storage and availability, coal is better than wood.
Coal is one of the most abundant materials in nature and it can be easily be bought at an affordable price. Thus, it is relatively easy to store coal. Meanwhile, wood has to be seasoned and cut into suitable sizes for storing and burning purposes. Moreover, if you run out of wood for your stove, it is harder and requires more effort to find more wood for your stove.
However, coal is less environmentally friendly compared to wood. Also, the ashes produced from burning coal can be unhealthy to humans and polluting your home environment.
Both coal and wood have their advantages as well as disadvantages. Since you can easily convert your wood stove to make it suitable for burning coal, you can choose between coal and wood based on your own preference.
Does coal burn hotter than wood?
Coal tends to burn hotter than wood. Thus, coal’s denser texture requires a hotbed of air to start, and it ignites at a temperature more than 100 degrees higher than wood. Hence, it also burns longer and more steadily compared to wood.
What should you not burn in a wood-burning stove?
While you can put coal in your wood stove using a converter, you should be careful about what you burn in your wood stove because some items can release toxic fumes into your living area.
Some items you should never put into your wood-burning stove include wet wood, woods that are not properly seasoned for burning in the stove, Christmas tree, colored or printed paper, plastics, fire starters, and cardboards. Keep this list in mind to protect the environment of your home and your neighborhood.
Should You Convert A Wood Fireplace To Electric?
Now you have everything you need to know about burning coal in a wood stove. Remember that you never should burn coal in a wood-burning stove without a converter, for it is not good for both your stove and your health.