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post #1 of 25 Old 05-20-2013 Thread Starter
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Solid Fuel Stove Fuel

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!
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post #2 of 25 Old 05-20-2013
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Re: Solid Fuel Stove Fuel

I burn small wood scraps in mine.I buy a fire log,which when cut up works.cut peices about 1/2 a cig pack size.I place the on the bottom to start.Should be no smoke in the cabin.marc
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post #3 of 25 Old 05-20-2013
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Re: Solid Fuel Stove Fuel

Do hardwood pellets for pellet stoves work? I've never had one of these, but pellets are commonly available anyway.


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post #4 of 25 Old 05-20-2013
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Re: Solid Fuel Stove Fuel

Coal has the best BTU value, which translates into the least amount of storage required - several grades of coal are available and I would buy the best anthracite coal if available. Coal can be a royal PITA to ignite in a small stove. I always use smaller chunks of wood to start the fire and add coal later. Wood has the best smell but also makes the most ash. Coal will burn even if you get it wet by some accident - not so with wood (a 5 gal bucket with a good lid works great for storage). Keep small strips of wood for kindling and big blocks (as big as will fit into your stove) for regular fuel.
It has been a while since I needed a stove on my boat (moved to NC long time ago) but ash removal is always a PITA so resign yourself to it. Some folks convert their solid fuel stoves to diesel or kerosene, but it has to be done carefully or it will be smelly and dangerous.

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post #5 of 25 Old 05-20-2013
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Re: Solid Fuel Stove Fuel

Not all solid fuel stove are made to burn coal. It burns awfully hot, and can pretty much destroy a stove not built to handle such. Not to mention that the resultant problems that over-heating the stove can produce (e.g., charing nearby woodwork, or starting the boat on fire).

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Re: Solid Fuel Stove Fuel

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Originally Posted by SlowButSteady View Post
Not all solid fuel stove are made to burn coal. It burns awfully hot, and can pretty much destroy a stove not built to handle such. Not to mention that the resultant problems that over-heating the stove can produce (e.g., charing nearby woodwork, or starting the boat on fire).
Very good point. I forgot about that. You need a pretty beefy fire box and grates to handle coal. Coal burning also tends to generate most carbon monoxide problems.

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post #7 of 25 Old 05-21-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Solid Fuel Stove Fuel

Thanks for the thoughts and advice! I think I'll try to get the stove lit fast (I'm thinking of trying the "fire log idea" or some "fuel tablets" used by backpackers for "kindling"). Then use pellets or even coal for the longer burn.
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post #8 of 25 Old 05-21-2013
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Re: Solid Fuel Stove Fuel

Coal is best burned in a "coal basket" and yes it's HOT! now on the other end soft woods wax logs... you my get quite a bit of soot in the vent pipe because it may not get hot enough.

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post #9 of 25 Old 05-21-2013
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Re: Solid Fuel Stove Fuel

Unless you're using it pretty frequently, which could get expensive, why not use charcoal briquettes?

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post #10 of 25 Old 05-21-2013
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Re: Solid Fuel Stove Fuel

We've used hardwood chunks for a dozen seasons. Our wood heater is mostly to take the chill off morning and evening in the spring and fall on the coast of Maine.

Hardwood heats up fast which is what we want in the morning or evening, and it goes out pretty quickly too which is handy to get going in the morning.

An option I haven't tried but sounds good is using the new bio bricks for woodstoves. A compressed wood product, you can cut or chop them into sizes that fit your stove. I can't imagine pellets working, we burn them at home in a pellet stove

We keep an old sailbag filled with hardwood chunks and kindling in a hanging locker and fire the stove often.


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