The Chimney Sweep Online Fireplace, Woodstove, Gas Stove and Barbecue Shop
Q: With the placement of a set of custom made cast iron or heavy steel grates, could you burn coal in a wood stove? Would the heat of the fire be too intense for the firebox, firebricks or viewing window? How about burning wood pellets or corn?
While it might be possible to get away with burning wood in a coal stove, or burning coal in a wood stove, it wouldn't be very practical. The design imperatives of coal stoves make efficient operation impossible when wood is the fuel. Likewise, today's EPA approved wood stoves cannot achieve efficient operation while burning coal. Further, the materials used in the construction of most wood stoves are not designed to withstand repeated exposure to the extreme heat from a coal fire.
There are stoves marketed as coal/wood combination stoves, but in actuality, these are primarily coal stoves. None of them burn wood efficiently enough to meet EPA emissions standards: wood fires are typically only used to ignite the coal.
Pellet and Corn stoves are different beasties altogether. In these, an electrical circuit board controls a motor-driven auger to deliver the corn or pellets into a specially designed burn tray which is ventilated to allow air from an electrical blower to surge through and create a "bellows effect" so the fuel will burn. The burn trays in pellet/corn stoves are way too small to allow burning larger-than-pellet size chunks of wood. Meticulously sorted pea or rice coal might conceivably travel through the auger mechanism of a pellet stove without jamming it, but I would suspect that the bellows effect created by the combustion blower would turn the burn tray into a mini-blacksmith forge, and melt down internal components.
If you add corn or pellets to the fire in a wood or coal stove, where there is no combustion blower to create a bellows effect, they simply won't burn completely, leaving much of their fuel value (and tons of unburned clinkers) in a pile in the firebox.
So, the bottom line: if you want efficient operation, you need to choose which fuel you want to burn, and burn it in the appropriate appliance.
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