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Old 21st February 2020, 02:24 AM   #1
The Don
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UK - Ban on sale of certain fuels

In an attempt to reduce particulate pollution, the government plans to ban the sale of "wet" (i.e. green) firewood and coal.

Quote:
Owners of wood burners, stoves and open fires will no longer be able to buy coal or wet wood to burn in them, under a ban to be rolled out from next year.

Sales of the two most polluting fuels will be phased out in England to help cut air pollution, the government says.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51581817

Mrs Don and I have a multi-fuel stove and burn a combination of "scrumped" firewood and smokeless fuel.

The "scrumping" process of dragging pieces of tree home from farmers' fields and woods (with their permission) and cutting and splitting by hand is becoming less fun every year so I was thinking of buying a couple of cubic metres of unseasoned wood from someone local. I suspect that there'll continue to be an illicit trade in such wood - maybe for landscaping or some other purpose.

The smokeless fuel we burn is likely to be unaffected by the ban but is almost twice the price of house coal. Because we're comfortably off and use the stove a couple of times a week, this isn't an issue. Mrs Jones down the hill keeps a coal fire in about 7 months a year and would be hit very hard in the pocket. She's a pensioner and will face some difficult decisions.
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Old 21st February 2020, 02:43 AM   #2
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Who burns green firewood anyway?

My family had a wood stove when I was a lad. We always dried out the firewood before burning it. Since we didn't use the oven for cooking, we used it for drying firewood. Worked very well.
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Old 21st February 2020, 02:45 AM   #3
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I’m surprised you can buy green wood from any legal firewood merchant.

I guess firewood would be rather hard to gather in the UK, but it isn’t where I live. I can collect enough on the side of country roads and wait a year or so until it dries enough.

I am surprised there are no restrictions on wood fires in Australia. On a cold, still winter morning out our way, the smog is visible. I love my wood fire, but would understand if they were restricted.
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Old 21st February 2020, 02:49 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Who burns green firewood anyway?
Impatient people ?

People with an ample supply of wood from ash trees ?

People who buy their firewood retail from a garage because they live in town, have an open fire and use it a couple of times a month ?

People who buy 2 cubic metres or less with a view to seasoning it themselves ?

Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
My family had a wood stove when I was a lad. We always dried out the firewood before burning it. Since we didn't use the oven for cooking, we used it for drying firewood. Worked very well.
It's the sale that will be banned, not the use. I'm sure the law will be widely flouted locally, but many of our neighbours who don't have their own source of wood buy a pickup or two of green wood in the spring with a view to burning it in the winter.

That said, the summers have been so bad recently that wood's more likely to rot than season if it isn't adequately protected.
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Old 21st February 2020, 02:57 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Iím surprised you can buy green wood from any legal firewood merchant.
Most commercial firewood suppliers only sell kiln-dried or other seasoned wood if you're buying in bulk. It's the small bags of firewood bought at garages, convenience stores and garden centres that tend to be green.

Oh, and farmers who've had a tree down and who are selling the wood by the pickup/combi/bakkie load.

Originally Posted by lionking View Post
I guess firewood would be rather hard to gather in the UK, but it isnít where I live. I can collect enough on the side of country roads and wait a year or so until it dries enough.
Gathering firewood without the express consent of the landowner is, strictly speaking, theft over here.

In Wales, collection of firewood from public land is discouraged, officially for biosecurity and biodiversity reasons but more likely to ensure that the contracts that National Resources Wales have with companies to whom they sold the rights - which has turned out to be something of a fiasco:

Quote:
The row over how timber sales were managed at Natural Resources Wales has cost at least one official their job.

But the resignation of chairwoman Diane McCrae has not been enough to stem the controversy over how the organisation managed to sell timber repeatedly without going to the open market.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-45097451
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Old 21st February 2020, 03:30 AM   #6
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I have never bought firewood. Always collected legally, and chopped it myself.

I tend to be over cautious with seasoning though, and I have logs that are multiple years old, as the seasoning time most people quote is when done in ideal conditions.

I'm about to build a proper wood store, which will help with seasoning, and storing of wood.

I work with someone who has a stove, but burns house coal. They inherited the coal from a previous owner of their house, and must be from the 60s, and basically filled an air raid shelter. They don't live in a smoke controlled area, so legally, they can still burn it, but she hates burning wood, as it doesn't last as long. I've told her she'll have to stock up.
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Old 21st February 2020, 05:17 AM   #7
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There's a chap on Radio 2 at the moment claiming the whole thing is a plot by DEFRA civil servants to undermine government popularity in the North of England.
He seems think that we all rely on coal fires for warmth.
Reality is that only the middle classes have open fires or stoves.
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Old 21st February 2020, 05:26 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
In an attempt to reduce particulate pollution, the government plans to ban the sale of "wet" (i.e. green) firewood and coal.



https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51581817

Mrs Don and I have a multi-fuel stove and burn a combination of "scrumped" firewood and smokeless fuel.

The "scrumping" process of dragging pieces of tree home from farmers' fields and woods (with their permission) and cutting and splitting by hand is becoming less fun every year so I was thinking of buying a couple of cubic metres of unseasoned wood from someone local. I suspect that there'll continue to be an illicit trade in such wood - maybe for landscaping or some other purpose.

The smokeless fuel we burn is likely to be unaffected by the ban but is almost twice the price of house coal. Because we're comfortably off and use the stove a couple of times a week, this isn't an issue. Mrs Jones down the hill keeps a coal fire in about 7 months a year and would be hit very hard in the pocket. She's a pensioner and will face some difficult decisions.
Country full of P.C. idiots
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Old 21st February 2020, 05:38 AM   #9
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Here in the US the problem with firewood is in the transporting of it: it spreads invasive insects like the emerald ash borer from state to state.
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Old 21st February 2020, 05:39 AM   #10
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To be pedantic, the announcement only concerns Englandshire. But I'd be surprised if Scotland didn't follow suite soon after depending upon how our/the government decides it'll deal with the considerable number of "off grid" properties.
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Old 21st February 2020, 05:48 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Who burns green firewood anyway?

My family had a wood stove when I was a lad. We always dried out the firewood before burning it. Since we didn't use the oven for cooking, we used it for drying firewood. Worked very well.
Many people in northern parts of the world, at least in the parts that are forested.
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Last edited by Arcade22; 21st February 2020 at 05:52 AM.
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Old 21st February 2020, 07:09 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Who burns green firewood anyway?

My family had a wood stove when I was a lad. We always dried out the firewood before burning it. Since we didn't use the oven for cooking, we used it for drying firewood. Worked very well.

Doesn't burning green firewood produce more creosote, eventually clog your chimney, and increase the risk of a house fire?
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Old 21st February 2020, 07:15 AM   #13
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Around here (deep in the prosperous SE) it is all kiln dried on sale, even at the petrol stations. And it's a smokeless zone so the coal ban won't affect us.

But the fire for me is a luxury that I have on for a few time ls a month over the winter.
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Old 21st February 2020, 09:00 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Armitage72 View Post
Doesn't burning green firewood produce more creosote, eventually clog your chimney, and increase the risk of a house fire?
Depends on the wood and how hot you burn it, but in general it will increase the amount of creosote and mean you'll have to get your chimney swept more often.
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Old 21st February 2020, 10:03 AM   #15
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It was either this or ban air travel. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
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Old 21st February 2020, 11:43 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
It was either this or ban air travel. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
It's about particulates, not greenhouse gases. Do keep up.
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Old 21st February 2020, 11:52 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
It's about particulates, not greenhouse gases. Do keep up.
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Old 21st February 2020, 02:42 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Armitage72 View Post
Doesn't burning green firewood produce more creosote, eventually clog your chimney, and increase the risk of a house fire?

Yes.

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Depends on the wood and how hot you burn it, but in general it will increase the amount of creosote and mean you'll have to get your chimney swept more often.

Years ago a friend of mine, an architect as it happens, built himself a new home just outside of town. He cleared enough of the land he had bought (10 acres or so of uncleared forest) for the house and an acre or so of lawn, and saved all the wood for use heating the house.

The house was finished in late summer, and about six months later in the following spring after he was well settled in he decided to have a big party over a weekend with friends camping out in the surrounding acreage if they chose to.

One evening as we were all sitting around the yard, talking and drinking beer, I happened to look up at the top of the brick chimney on the tall side of his house (three stories on that side, two in the front) and saw black oozing out from the mortar joints for about the top six ft. of the chimney. Not a huge amount, just a little bit here and there.

The creosote had seeped out through the joints in the clay flue tiles, saturated the two inches of sand in the void between the flue tiles and the brick, and then, finally, seeped out between the bricks.

First heating season in a new chimney. Sweeping wasn't going to be a solution.

It turned out he had gotten too much stove, which is a more common problem than one might think.

This chimney exhausted a stove in the bottom floor, an 800 sq. ft. open plan rec room sort of area. He had gotten a beautiful new Vermont Castings stove with a well-recommended secondary burning feature which at least in theory would help prevent creosote build-up even though the wood he was burning had only been cut a few months before the heating season started.

Thing is, this secondary burning depended on having the stove running at a certain level of vigor, and because of the size he had chosen he couldn't keep it that hot because it over-heated the space he had it in. He didn't realize this. The fact that the flue was three stories high only made things worse.



He ended up having to tear down and rebuild the chimney ... and replace the stove with one that wasn't quite so big.

I'm sure that he was also pretty faithful about chimney cleaning after that, but it still wouldn't have helped him with this event.
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Old 21st February 2020, 03:11 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
It's about particulates, not greenhouse gases. Do keep up. : rolleyes :
Ooh, looks like the joke gestapo's sense of humor is... on the Fritz.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 07:43 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Impatient people ?

People with an ample supply of wood from ash trees ?

People who buy their firewood retail from a garage because they live in town, have an open fire and use it a couple of times a month ?

People who buy 2 cubic metres or less with a view to seasoning it themselves ?



It's the sale that will be banned, not the use. I'm sure the law will be widely flouted locally, but many of our neighbours who don't have their own source of wood buy a pickup or two of green wood in the spring with a view to burning it in the winter.

That said, the summers have been so bad recently that wood's more likely to rot than season if it isn't adequately protected.
OK, I said "burn" not "buy". Of course you would buy it green.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 07:46 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Arcade22 View Post
Many people in northern parts of the world, at least in the parts that are forested.
Burn, not buy.

I grew up in a northern part of the world and we burned firewood.

You don't burn it when it's green. You dry it out first.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 07:56 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Armitage72 View Post
Doesn't burning green firewood produce more creosote, eventually clog your chimney, and increase the risk of a house fire?
Yes, that's why you need to dry it first.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 07:58 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Burn, not buy.

I grew up in a northern part of the world and we burned firewood.

You don't burn it when it's green. You dry it out first.
Well yes, but I've never heard about anyone using an oven or anything as elaborate as that. Storing it in a shed, or even just piling it up in a lean-to by the side of the house, over the summer is enough.

I mean if you are going to be burning wood for heat in any significant amount you should have a wood shed or something like that.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 08:14 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Arcade22 View Post
Well yes, but I've never heard about anyone using an oven or anything as elaborate as that. Storing it in a shed, or even just piling it up in a lean-to by the side of the house, over the summer is enough.

I mean if you are going to be burning wood for heat in any significant amount you should have a wood shed or something like that.
Well, the oven is in the stove anyway. We would take the wood out of the shed and put it in the oven while burning the wood we had already dried in the oven.

It was a different model but something sort of like this:

https://www.alamy.com/a-19th-century...156171035.html

The big door on the front it the oven. The actual fire is in the left part.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 08:24 AM   #25
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Wait, I have to back up. People in the UK still burn coal in their houses?
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Old 22nd February 2020, 10:18 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
Wait, I have to back up. People in the UK still burn coal in their houses?
very few these days but when I was a kid every house in our village old ironstone mining village, lots of victorian terraces, not picturesque), the surrounding villages and local town had coal in open hearth as the main heating.
We had 23 fireplaces, one in the living room, one in the dining room (only lit on special occasions and one still open in one of the bedrooms.
On a still day a pall of smoke hung over the entire valley.

That's how it was up until the late 70s when gas central heating started to take over, there were govt grants available to help fund it.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 12:21 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
very few these days but when I was a kid every house in our village old ironstone mining village, lots of victorian terraces, not picturesque), the surrounding villages and local town had coal in open hearth as the main heating.

We had 23 fireplaces, one in the living room, one in the dining room (only lit on special occasions and one still open in one of the bedrooms.

On a still day a pall of smoke hung over the entire valley.



That's how it was up until the late 70s when gas central heating started to take over, there were govt grants available to help fund it.
I can beat that, flats built in the post war building boom, we all had simple open fires, even the water was heated by the fire. So if you wanted hot water during the warmer months you had to have the fire lit. The reason was these were built with expectation miners from the local pit (walking distance when they were built, literally the other side of the main road ) would occupy them, and they got free coal. These were only "modernised" in the late 90s. (For the youngsters here the late 90s were just a few years ago.)
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Old 22nd February 2020, 01:29 PM   #28
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That was supposed to be 3 fireplaces! We didn't in fact have 23 despite what you may have read.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 02:20 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
That was supposed to be 3 fireplaces! We didn't in fact have 23 despite what you may have read.

Yeah, right.

It's too late for you to backtrack with a bit of transparent po' mouthin'.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 02:32 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
very few these days but when I was a kid every house in our village old ironstone mining village, lots of victorian terraces, not picturesque), the surrounding villages and local town had coal in open hearth as the main heating.
We had 23 fireplaces, one in the living room, one in the dining room (only lit on special occasions and one still open in one of the bedrooms.
On a still day a pall of smoke hung over the entire valley.

That's how it was up until the late 70s when gas central heating started to take over, there were govt grants available to help fund it.
Well, in London - and other places - the Clean Air Act 1956WP put paid to that in the '50s. I recall our council flat having an open coal fire but coal burning stopped and we had to switch to coke. My dad fumed about this as it was a lot harder to light.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 02:36 PM   #31
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Wait. Are we talking about literal coal? Or charcoal?
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Old 22nd February 2020, 02:40 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Wait. Are we talking about literal coal? Or charcoal?
Literal. An old friend of ours in England, living in a rural spot in the W Country, has a coal-fired heater with a back-boiler for hot water. There's a local coal merchant that does her an occasional delivery.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 02:44 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Literal. An old friend of ours in England, living in a rural spot in the W Country, has a coal-fired heater with a back-boiler for hot water. There's a local coal merchant that does her an occasional delivery.
And she tips him tuppence, gets in her horse buggy, and drives off to the Great Exhibition?
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Old 22nd February 2020, 02:45 PM   #34
Guybrush Threepwood
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Wait. Are we talking about literal coal? Or charcoal?
Coal, black rock, make fire good. My house (not in the UK, but the next island over) was built in 1997 and has an open fire. Last year smoky coal was banned, and we follow the rules and burn smokeless coal, but our neighbour is a scofflaw who still burns the smoky stuff. There is nothing like an open fire to make a room feel welcoming.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 03:45 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post
Coal, black rock, make fire good. My house (not in the UK, but the next island over) was built in 1997 and has an open fire. Last year smoky coal was banned, and we follow the rules and burn smokeless coal, but our neighbour is a scofflaw who still burns the smoky stuff. There is nothing like an open fire to make a room feel welcoming.
Until the wind changes and you get a downdraft covering everything in the room with soot and tar
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Old 22nd February 2020, 05:16 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Well, in London - and other places - the Clean Air Act 1956WP put paid to that in the '50s. I recall our council flat having an open coal fire but coal burning stopped and we had to switch to coke. My dad fumed about this as it was a lot harder to light.
We had a coal fire in our house in a village just outside Cambridge, from 1988 until around 2000 when we moved to gas central heating. I was responsible for bringing the coal in from the coal bunker, no matter what the weather was like. There used to be a delivery of 2-4 sacks of coal once a week, and I'd have to go out to bring in a bucketful at the time it was needed.

Aged 9, it was probably quite exciting and fun to be charged with that, but as I grew older and the weather colder it wore off. When I was later asked to demolish it, I had quite a lot of repressed coal related anger behind my sledgehammer and pickaxe strokes.

(At least my bunker was concrete; as a result of the major employer in the area being an asbestos factory, my neighbour's - along with several lean tos, sheds, and lawn edging - was asbestos. Only the rear half and roof of our shed...)

But thinking back, the lumps delivered in those sacks were clearly man made, with rounded edges and uniform shape and size, not hewn like that from a pit. So though we called it coal, it must have been this coke of which you speak.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 05:38 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by gypsyjackson View Post
We had a coal fire in our house in a village just outside Cambridge, from 1988 until around 2000 when we moved to gas central heating. I was responsible for bringing the coal in from the coal bunker, no matter what the weather was like. There used to be a delivery of 2-4 sacks of coal once a week, and I'd have to go out to bring in a bucketful at the time it was needed.
Yes, fireplaces are nice and cozy but someone has to go outside and get the fuel even when it's -15 degrees celsius and you have shovel a bunch of snow away to get to it.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 06:51 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post
Coal, black rock, make fire good. My house (not in the UK, but the next island over) was built in 1997 and has an open fire. Last year smoky coal was banned, and we follow the rules and burn smokeless coal, but our neighbour is a scofflaw who still burns the smoky stuff. There is nothing like an open fire to make a room feel welcoming.
Yeah...except for the health effects. A nice fire has joined the long list of human comforts that medicine has determined are not good for us.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 07:46 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by gypsyjackson View Post
<snip>
But thinking back, the lumps delivered in those sacks were clearly man made, with rounded edges and uniform shape and size, not hewn like that from a pit. So though we called it coal, it must have been this coke of which you speak.

I doubt it. I expect that was just graded coal. Sorted for particular sizes for different purposes. House coal is probably what you were getting. The right size for hearths and kitchen stoves. The grading process involved dropping the coal through different sized screens. This can round off the chunks of coal somewhat.

Coke is a different critter. It is to coal what charcoal is to wood, with the impurities cooked out of it in coke ovens. Burns cleaner. Also hotter. It doesn't look like regular coal. Not just the shape, but the surface texture, weight, hardness, and feel. Once you've seen it there's no mistaking it for coal.

There was a town just up the road when I was growing up that had rows and rows of old-fashioned coke ovens running full time for the steel plants in Pittsburgh. Rows of side-by-side domed brick ovens lined up beside a railroad spur. For all I know they're still running. I know the coal trains still go out regularly.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 07:50 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Yeah...except for the health effects. A nice fire has joined the long list of human comforts that medicine has determined are not good for us.

When open fires were our best solution for keeping warm most people didn't live long enough for those pesky health risks to become a real problem.
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