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Coal - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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  • Coal

    Have put about 75 pizzas through our oven now and obviously using wood. Abslolutly love it. Some 20 years ago I had a wood/coal burning unit in my basement that I used for several years till I realized it was too much work and I went back to oil. I have a half dozen 80lb bags of pea coal left and was wondering if anyone has used coal in their WFO after making pizza to keep the temp up and cook bread or roasts etc.
    G

  • #2
    Re: Coal

    I've used coal from time to time, usually when I am going to have a large group over for pizza (i.e 30 plus pizzas) and want to push the temperature higher at the start.

    Works fine. Some people say it is the best pizza they have ever had.

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    • #3
      Re: Coal

      Very good to know. Would hate to have to just throw the coal out. I trust it did nothing to the oven.
      G

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      • #4
        Re: Coal

        I seem to remember that Sally's in New Haven used coal - maybe that's their secret ingedient!

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        • #5
          Re: Coal

          We're asked this question all the time, because of the famous NYC coal fired pizza places. Let us know how it works out, shoot us some pics, tell us whether you use a grate, and anything else you observe from coal burning.
          My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

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          • #6
            Re: Coal

            Most pizza restaurants that used to make bread used coal and kept it that way when they turned into pizza restaurants. I may gve it a try just touse up tphe coal. Coal does seem to bur longer but I'm not sure it burns hotter than wood when the flames are licking the top of the dome. I've been to Sallys many times since I'm only about 20mins away. Not quite sure its in the heat source though. If you make a really great sauce and use good ingredients all our pizza will be just as good.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Coal

              "I'm not sure it burns hotter than wood "

              I actually start the fire with wood and add a good shovel full of coal in about 20 minutes before "push back".

              With a wood only fire I get to about 1000 on the floor with a one hour burn. With the coal added I get to about 1300.

              Try to get a low sulfur coal (which your sacks are almost certain to be). Anthracite is preferred to bituminous although both work fine. With respect to sourcing, check with your local blacksmiths - they are about the only people who use any amount of coal.
              Last edited by Neil2; 10-30-2009, 04:48 PM.

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              • #8
                Re: Coal

                Neil,
                I agree with you about it not burning as hot as wood. For one there is minimal flame. When I used both as a heat source the wood was dryer and hotter but did not last as long. the coal was not quite as hot but lasted throught the night into the morning. Did you notice any difference in the quality of your pizza with the addition to coal? I may give it a try just because I want to use up the coal. That 1300 degreees didn't affect your oven I assume.
                G

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                • #9
                  Re: Coal

                  I think I get the extra heat because with wood there is only so much fuel you can stuff in for the "big burn". With a combination wood/coal fire, you can get more fuel in the oven at once.

                  I let it burn down to coals before "push back" so I don't think it affects the taste that much. Some of my guests claim it does. The smell of burning coal is interesting and pleasant.

                  The 1300 degrees didn't bother the oven at all.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Coal

                    I have to agree. The smell of coal never bothered me when I was using it to heat thehouse when I was a pup. What botheredme was the fine ash that would always find its way up staird into the living area. All of a sudden I feel like pizza.
                    G

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                    • #11
                      Re: Coal

                      A little info I found.
                      Anthracite
                      Anthracite is coal with the highest carbon content, between 86 and 98 percent, and a heat value of nearly 15,000 BTUs-per-pound. Most frequently associated with home heating, anthracite is a very small segment of the U.S. coal market. There are 7.3 billion tons of anthracite reserves in the United States, found mostly in 11 northeastern counties in Pennsylvania.

                      Bituminous
                      The most plentiful form of coal in the United States, bituminous coal is used primarily to generate electricity and make coke for the steel industry. The fastest growing market for coal, though still a small one, is supplying heat for industrial processes. Bituminous coal has a carbon content ranging from 45 to 86 percent carbon and a heat value of 10,500 to 15,500 BTUs-per-pound.

                      Subbituminous
                      Ranking below bituminous is subbituminous coal with 35-45 percent carbon content and a heat value between 8,300 and 13,000 BTUs-per-pound. Reserves are located mainly in a half-dozen Western states and Alaska. Although its heat value is lower, this coal generally has a lower sulfur content than other types, which makes it attractive for use because it is cleaner burning.

                      Lignite
                      Lignite is a geologically young coal which has the lowest carbon content, 25-35 percent, and a heat value ranging between 4,000 and 8,300 BTUs-per-pound. Sometimes called brown coal, it is mainly used for electric power generation.

                      I tried Using coal in a forge once,Oddly enough I couldnt get it lit... I even would start with charcoal and let it sit in there,,, I wonder if it can go bad somehow ??


                      Cheers Mark

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                      • #12
                        Re: Coal

                        I had no trouble with the "chestnut" anthrocite I was using when I used it to heat my house many, many years ago. I just stoked a wood fire and put the coal on top and it ignited easily. I think I am going to opt not to use it in the WFO because once I use up the 5/ 50lb bags I have I wouldn't go out and get more and like my brother and I discussed, why tinker with success. The wood is plentiful right now and the taste and results of cooking are great so I may just throw the coal onto the embers when we shovel them out of the oven and start a fall/winter fire in the fire pit behind us while we are baking bread. How is it cooking pizza in the winter? I would think that the dough would be a little tough to work with outside in the low temps. I'm thinking of making them inside and walking them out to the oven. Would save on the hands and the dough.
                        G

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                        • #13
                          Re: Coal

                          Coal definitely burns hotter than wood.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Coal

                            It does burn hotter and also has considerable more ash than wood, as much as 10 times more. I would'nt think so having burned both but it does. I am going to just use it up on and open fire to keep warm outside as I am sitting back waiting for some bread to bake and sipping on some homemade wine or grappa.
                            G

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