Coal should never be added unless there is a reasonably hot fire. The coal bed should be burning bright and vigorous.
If the fire is burning hot and there is a deep bed of coals, full loads of coal can be added at anytime. However, if there is not a deep bed of coals, it is best to add small amounts of coal at first.
When loading with coal do not bury all the hot coals with new coal. As new coal begins to ignite, it produces a lot of volatile gas. This gas builds up in the upper part of the firebox. As the fire burns up through the new coal it can flash ignite those volatile gases, causing the stove to puff. To help minimize this, leave a small area of hot red coals uncovered in a corner. This will act as a pilot light and will prevent flash ignition or puffing. This is not an uncommon occurrence.
Increasing Heat from a Low Fire
Every effort should be made not to let a coal fire burn too low so that the fire has started to die. This will cause the reloading process to take much longer, and there is a good possibility of losing the fire.
Do not shake or stir the coal bed while experiencing a low fire
Open the draft control to full open to get maximum draft.
Run the stove with the draft control open until the fire is reasonably hot.
Start adding small amounts of coal. When the new coal is thoroughly ignited or there is a substantial bed of hot coals, the stove may be shaken thoroughly. Be sure to shake down all ashes but do not over-shake.
After shaking, keep the draft control open until you are sure that the fire is continuing to burn hot, and then return the draft control down to the proper operating level.
For more information see:
- Part 1: Starting an Anthracite Coal Fire
- Part 2: Loading the Stove & Increasing Heat
- Part 3: Shaking, Controlling Draft & Ash Management
- Part 4: Safety
- Part 5: Troubleshooting
This article adapted in part from an article entitled “Operation of Hand-Fired Anthracite Stoves” provided by Hitzer Inc. drawing from their decades of experience burning coal and building coal stoves.