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can coal be used? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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I'm Peter Reinhart! Ask Me Anything! Monday, February 15, 2016 7:00-8:00 pm EST

To kick off our AMA feature, we have invited author, chef and master bread maker and host of Pizza Quest, Peter Reinhart, to be our first host! Peter will be in the Forum on Monday, February 15th, from 7:00 - 8:00 pm EST. If you are unable to be online during the live session, you can post your questions in the sticky post. Peter will answer those questions during the live session on February 15th. You can view Peter's answers to your questions as well as what happened during the live session in the session thread.

Ask Me Anything New Forum Feature

You will notice a new forum at the top of the main page called, "Ask Me Anything". This forum will be used for live one hour "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) sessions hosted by people who are knowledgeable in different areas pertaining to wood fired ovens. How it works:
- Each AMA will have a "sticky" thread where the community can post questions they would like answered during the live session. This will allow everyone to participate even if you can't be online for the live session. These questions will not be answered by the host until the live AMA; if you need an answer quickly, you should post it in the appropriate Forum area for the community to respond.
- Another thread will be posted for the live AMA. Registered users who are logged in during the live session can interact with the host by asking questions and receiving responses.
- The live thread will remain in the AMA forum to view after the session.

We hope you enjoy this new feature! Please let us know if there is a topic that you'd like to have as an AMA and we'll look for a host!

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can coal be used?

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  • can coal be used?

    Hello again,

    Have been busy for quite some time now. The weather here in Buffalo just turned pretty cold and damp. I am wondering if a fire can be made using coal in place of wood? Please let me know if this is possible, I don't want to day any damage.

    Thanks,
    Rob

  • #2
    Re: can coal be used?

    It'll burn...but, we've done environmental sampling around old coal piles. The variety and levels of heavy metals that comes out of coal are simply mind-blogging. Such really nasty stuff as arsenic, selenium, cadmium, vanadium, and chromium, depending on where the coal comes from. Some of these are outright poisons or cause fetal development problems. You would not want those in your cooking fire because some of the metals will be deposited in your food and it takes just low levels to become a health problem (for same reason that pressure treated wood should not be burned.... the metals come out and end up it the diet).
    Paradise is where you make it.

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    • #3
      Re: can coal be used?

      Originally posted by cvdukes View Post
      It'll burn...but, we've done environmental sampling around old coal piles. The variety and levels of heavy metals that comes out of coal are simply mind-blogging. Such really nasty stuff as arsenic, selenium, cadmium, vanadium, and chromium, depending on where the coal comes from.
      We get the coal question every few months, because of the romance of a few places in Brooklyn and environs that make pizza in coal fired bread ovens. This is the first sensible answer that I've seen. Thanks.
      My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

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      • #4
        Re: can coal be used?

        Oh Wow!
        Glad I saw these posts. A new pizza place just opened up here on US rt. 1 N.
        It's a coal fired pizza and chicken wing restaurant. I went it there one morning before they opened for business and asked to go behind the counter to see the ovens up close. They were from a company in CA but I forget the name. The ovens were built for coal because the cooks there told me that there was an air supply grate under the coals in the floor. (Inside the dome on the left side of the oven.) My wife and I were about to try it out soon. It's a really nice 'tuscan looking' place. But after reading about burning coal,........'Fugeddaboudit'!
        Thanx', I'll stick to our wood fired oven!
        Happy thanksgiving to all who celebrate and well wishes to those who do not!
        Rick
        View my pictures at, Picasaweb.google.com/xharleyguy

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        • #5
          Re: can coal be used?

          Interesting!

          I eat at this place about every month when I'm in downtown Philly:
          Pietro's Coal Oven Pizzeria
          Pietro's Pizza: Coal Oven Pizzeria

          I wonder if the coal fired commercial ovens somehow keep the exhaust separate from the heat and pizza??
          Last edited by Ken524; 11-25-2007, 02:38 PM. Reason: edited link
          Ken H. - Kentucky
          42" Pompeii

          Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

          Oven Thread ... Enclosure Thread
          Cost Spreadsheet ... Picasa Web Album

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          • #6
            Re: can coal be used?

            Guys,

            Coal fired ovens, particularly those in NYC and Philly, were and are white ovens. The fire is not built in the baking chamber, but rather below it, and the exhaust gasses are vented separately. You shouldn't use coal in a fire in the oven setup, but hard coal (anthracite) has been used for a very long time in white ovens. Anthracite coal has many fewer emissions (none of them good) than does bituminous (soft coal). Soft coal was responsible for the famous London fogs of yesteryear.

            Jim
            "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827

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            • #7
              Re: can coal be used?

              My granny cooked with coal, and lived into her 90's.


              I cook with it now and then. We have a low-sulfer coal available locally.

              (I'm feeling OK so far)

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