I just posted my first ever youtube video! Big thanks goes to my good friend grant for taping and editing. My idea is to supplement the video with a blog post that goes into more detail.
I am assuming you have watched the video, so if some of this doesnt make a whole lot of sense, go watch it ya dummy!
I call the new coal “green”. Sometimes I call it “fresh”. Its the black hard coal just as you get it from the bag. Smaller nut sized coal is best. Big chunks just dont burn as well.
As that “green” coal burns, the sulfur inside it cooks out and makes the smoke a greenish-yellowish nasty-ass color. Thats why we call it “green” coal. This is letting you know that your coal is actually lit, and you are not just burning newspaper. Some of the impurities dont become smoke. As the fire gets hotter other impurities begin to melt, and form clinker at the bottom of your coal fire. Mostly this is silica, essentially molten glass. It can clog up your airflow in the bottom of your forge, and cause your fire to cool off even though you keep feeding it fuel.
As the coal burns and melts off it’s impurities it fuses together and creates coke. Coke is light and fluffy, kinda. It burns nice and clean. The goal is to creep that green coal closer and closer to the fire so it gently becomes coke. The coke is what you want in the center of the fire. Dropping green coal straight into the fire causes all the smoke to flair up again, and causes that silica to drip down onto your work that is sitting in the fire. No good!
Here is a look of what your fire should look like in a perfect world. My best advice is to always be messing with it. Every time you put something back in the fire to heat up again, take a couple of seconds to tidy it up. Roll some coal closer in, brush some coke over the center of the fire, maybe get some clinker out of the firepot.
Last thing, I would love some feed back on the video, and on this blog post. If you are having any trouble getting your fire started or understanding what it is I am talking about, let me know! The whole point of this is to educate and start a discussion!