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Coal...has anyone tried it? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Coal...has anyone tried it?

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  • Coal...has anyone tried it?

    Hey folks, just a question out of the blue here but...has anyone tried using coal to fire their oven?

    I mention this because a few restaurants here have been touting a coal fired oven and I was wondering if there was a big difference...

  • #2
    Re: Coal...has anyone tried it?

    Frequently asked question. Few answers. Why don't you try it and report back with pictures?

    I've never determined to my satisfaction if the "coal fired pizza" places burn the coal right in the oven, or in a subsidiary firebox. Also I'm not sure if burned right in the oven it needs a grate (fire basket) to get air in from the bottom of the fire.
    My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


    • #3
      Re: Coal...has anyone tried it?

      Funny you ask, my wife found a source of coal for me, and I gave it a try last week for the first time. I read every tutorial on lighting a coal fire I could find and still was unable to get it to even think about igniting. My goal was not to go totally coal fired, but was more to do a coal wood hybrid to see how a big pile of coal with some wood on it did keeping the oven at pizza temps for a long period of time. I've got plenty more and plan to give it another shot, I'll be sure to post again if I have anything worth mentioning.


      • #4
        Re: Coal...has anyone tried it?

        You might find some answers in this link:



        • #5
          Re: Coal...has anyone tried it?

          still was unable to get it to even think about igniting
          I had gotten some coal for a forge project, and like you, no matter what I did I could not get it to lite.. even went as far as leaving a propane torch on it for 15 minutes or more,,,, also tried using charcoal and putting the coal on top of it... If I could light it, I might try it...



          • #6
            Re: Coal...has anyone tried it?

            Lighting coal is an art... I used hard coal during a blacksmithing class. We used LOTS of newspaper in a pile, crumpled loosely, then piled coal in a pyramid over top. You had to light multiple places on the paper and work the air inlet very carefully (it was a forced air vent). I would venture that you would need a nice set of bellows or maybe a heat gun to get started inside an oven.
            If you see ANY green smoke, you are on the right path... use a bit more air.

            The alternative might be to start a top down fire, and once it collapses inside to add bits of coal.

            You will also need to look for "clinkers" -- they are impurities in the coal and will hinder the burn.

            GOOD LUCK!


            • #7
              Re: Coal...has anyone tried it?

              I tried both the colapsed wood fire method and the blower method to no avail. I also tried a grate with fire under it. Closes I got was a chimney starter with wood kindling on the bottom coal on top and a blower. I got lots f
              of green smoke but no ignition before I finally gave up. That was actually my first try and I may have given up to fast so that is where I plan to start next time.


              • #8
                Re: Coal...has anyone tried it?

                I also have a forge and have not tried coal (but use coke - not cocane nor coca cola either), but it does demand some consideration especially if you have it as a source.
                Coal over here in Adelaide is not cheap and not really worthy for consideration, but I believe that shuboyje has the right idea.
                My goal was not to go totally coal fired, but was more to do a coal wood hybrid
                However I will throw my 10 cents in as what I would try to get working within my Pompeii.
                Firstly, I would get the wood fire well and truly going with plenty of flames and heat to commence the trial. I would then have some coal on a shallow steel grate and slip it into the oven over the roaring flames. I would also install some semicircular steel pipes around the perimeter of the oven (as it would not take up any room for the pizzas), hearth with large holes aimed at the centre of the hearth and coal tray where I would have an air pump (not a compressor but more like a hair dryer of car heater fan blower that would act as a catalyst for the coal to get so hot that it has no option but to burn. Once it was burning (if in fact it did) you could control the rate with the air forced onto the coal.
                Just a thought.

                Prevention is better than cure, - do it right the first time!

                The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know

                Neillís Pompeiii #1
                Neillís kitchen underway


                • #9
                  Re: Coal...has anyone tried it?

                  I used coal to heat my home for 3 winters. It took a good wood fire to get it going. Our furnace had grates. We could supply combustion air from below and above the coal. It was much more even heat than wood. As warmer weather approached I would let a deep bed of ash build up. This ash bed slowed down the burn and made the fire easier to control when heat requirements were not as great. In the spring i had several 35 gallon barrels of ash per ton of coal, much more ash than any wood. For a commercial operation I can see the benefit of coal. For home use where a fire is going to be infrequent I think wood, would be my choice.