Okay, I've never had a solid fuel heater on my previous boats. This new boat (to us) has an old Shipmate solid fuel stove aboard. I would like to try it out (actually my wife is begging me to fire it up as she is persistently cold). Before I do so, I'd like to learn more about my fuel options and what others have experienced. Yes, I have CO monitors and will vent well. But I'm wondering what are some of the pros and cons of various fuel sources? Like BTUs for the buck, or low ash options (I just spent a ton of $$ on new upholstery and can't wait to spill ash all over the dinette cushions!)
I know there are pea coal and nut coal options but I've never used them and don't how or where to buy them (the boat is in Rhode Island). Is there special charcoal? And what about smell? Also, what starts fast and doesn't smoke out the cabin? Or are there some quick-start techniques I should know about?
I want to use this stove, but before I smoke us out, or burn the boat to the waterline, who out there has some best-practices advice for me? Thanks!