It’s that time of the year when gathering around a cozy fire pit sounds like a dream. However, you might run into the unexpected hurdle of choosing a material to burn in the fire pit.
So, can you use charcoal and coal in a fire pit?
Charcoal is a synthetic material designed specifically for use in fire pits and barbecues. In contrast, coal is a fossil fuel that burns hot but might damage your belongings.
Do you want to learn more about the materials? Keep reading this article for all the information on using charcoal and coal in your fire pit. Let’s dive in!
Yes, you can use charcoal in a fire pit. Charcoal is perfect if you’re building slow-burning fires. These are used as a heat source and are ideal for grilling and cooking.
Having said that, there are a couple of disadvantages of using charcoal. Since it reaches a higher temperature than wood, it’s a fire hazard. So, you can’t leave it unattended for long periods.
Additionally, you’ll need to use a sturdy fire pit when burning charcoal. This material releases embers and sparks, so using a spark shield is a must.
Burnt charcoal leaves behind a significant amount of black ash. Not only will it be a hassle to clean, but it can also build up in your fire pit over time.
Typically, there are two types of charcoal, briquette and lump. Briquette charcoal is small, compressed sawdust and wood fibers. It’s cheaper, yet it burns quicker and leaves more ash and dust.
In contrast, lump charcoal is ideal for fire pits. It’s long-lasting and easier to clean up.
Coal and charcoal might seem identical. However, it’s essential to understand the differences between them. After all, one is meant for use in fire pits.
Charcoal is wood that’s already been incinerated. Alternatively, coal is a naturally occurring mineral.
While coal is often added to charcoal in fire pits to increase the energy density, it’s rarely used alone.
The reason is that coal is an excellent heat source. For starters, it reaches a pretty high temperature, higher than charcoal. It also burns for longer.
That said, the advantages of adding coal to other materials in a fire pit are the same limitations preventing its use on its own.
Even if you have the toughest brick or metal fire pit, burning a large amount of coal would damage it. Furthermore, the high temperature can be significantly dangerous.
Accordingly, I don’t recommend using coal in a fire pit, especially if you don’t have a spark shield.
Still, if you take the necessary precautions, you might get away with adding a lump of coal to your other burning materials. Make sure you don’t add too much coal, though!
Smokeless coal is a specific type of charcoal made from an anthracite base and less volatile materials. This way, the coal can still burn to high temperatures but doesn’t emit a lot of smoke.
Many people believe smokeless coal contains plenty of toxins and harmful chemicals. However, it has less volatile compounds, meaning there are fewer health risks. It’s also somewhat better for the environment.
This is a great material to burn, regardless of the type of fire pit you’re using. You can even burn smokeless coal indoors.
Furthermore, it doesn’t produce as much ash or sparks as charcoal, so using smokeless coal is simpler.
Still, since smokeless coal burns hot, you should keep a close eye on it and practice all safety measures.
Can you use charcoal and coal in a fire pit?
Though charcoal and coal might sound identical, they’re completely different materials. Charcoal is an ideal incinerator in a fire pit.
On the other hand, coal burns extremely hot. So, it’s damaging to fire pits and is a potential fire hazard. Yet, many people find adding a piece of coal to their charcoal fire helpful.
Whether you’re using charcoal, charcoal mixed with coal, smokeless fuel, or wood logs, practicing fire safety is a must.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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