Can you put coal in a log burner?

With rising energy prices across the country, many homeowners are looking to solid fuels as an alternative way to supplement how they heat their homes. While both wood and coal are exceptional sources of home fuel, the devices designed to burn them are not always interchangeable. For instance, wood burning stoves, also known as log burners, are not suitable for making coal fires. Stoves that can burn Coal are classed as Multi-fuel.

Understanding how log burners work

Why coal is not suited to log burners is down to the different ways that these two solid fuels burn.

As the name suggests, log burners are dedicated devices for burning wood. As a rule, wood always burns at its best when there is an air source supplied from above. As a result, burners are designed with specific features that allow air to flow above the fire. Also referred to as an air wash, or primary and secondary air flow. 

Wood burning stoves typically have a controllable air vent located beneath the stove.
Each manufacturer has a slightly different design for air supply to their stoves, but the controls will help regulate air flow. Additionally, burners may have vents at the back to supply a further fresh feed of air and ensure it enters above the fire inside. It is important to understand that the majority of heat given off by burning wood is in fact the burning of gases produced by wood once it has reached the correct temperature, this is above 230 Deg C.

These gases comprise of about 60% of the potential heat in the wood. The ignition of the gases can only take place once the water has evaporated off which is why it is important to use correctly dried wood as a fuel source. For more in depth information we suggest reading this article some may find interesting. 

Unlike coal, wood burns most efficiently on a bed of ashes. As a result, wood burning stoves feature a flat base at the bottom, enabling a build-up of ash to occur between fires.

How does coal burn?

In comparison, to burn effectively, coal needs an air source below the fire. That is why coal fires typically feature a grate to sit fuel on and allow air to flow beneath. As mentioned, the air is supplied from above in log burners, making them unsuitable for building successful coal fires.

Additionally, the way wood burners are engineered to allow ash to build up would block any airflow reaching beneath the coals where it is required. For those looking to burn both coal and logs in a single burner, the only option available is a multi-fuel stove designed to answer the different needs of both types of solid fuel.

Experts in wood burner installations

If you’re looking to enjoy the comforts and potential energy savings offered by a wood burning stove installation, you can count on Caledonia Stoves for a full service. We fit high-quality wood burners in Stirling, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Fife, and Perthshire, so get in touch with our expert team today to receive a free quotation for a new log burner for your home. If you have more questions like ‘can you put coal in a log burner?’, we’re more than happy to answer them.