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How to light Anthracite

Simple steps on how to light Anthracite

For all the many benefits of using anthracite, there are still many people who choose not to use it to heat their home. The reason? It can very difficult and finicky to light. Many people just give up and rather use normal (bituminous) coal or wood, which are both much easier to light.

It is worth learning how to use anthracite – not only is it affordable, but it is said to be the cleanest-burning of all fossil fuels due to its low sulphur content. It also burns longer and hotter than wood, making it more efficient.

Learning to light an anthracite coal fire takes time, patience, and practice. But once you have got it started, the idea is to keep the fire going by continuously adding new coals and occasionally poking the coals so the fire doesn’t go out.

Steps to light an anthracite coal fire

  1. The first step is to make sure your heater and chimney are both clean. Clear out all the old ash and make sure there is no blockage in your chimney.
  2. Crumple up some sheets of newspaper (around 8 should be fine) into balls and lay these across the grate.
  3. Lay kindling on top of the newspaper in a criss-cross pattern. The criss-cross pattern allows air flow. Choose fine kindling (up to 2cm diameter) that is dry.
  4. Open the draft controls fully and close the close the loading door to allow the kindling to catch fire. The position of the draft controls depends on your unit.
  5. After a few minutes open the loading door. Start by opening the door a few centimetres to let the smoke clear, then open the door fully.
  6. When the kindling is burning hot, this is the time add small pieces of hardwood. Keeping the draft controls open fully will help get a well-established fire going.
  7. Once the compact hardwood starts breaking off into hot coals, you can add more hardwood if necessary.
  8. You want the fire to be well-established, with a lot of red hot coals before you start adding the anthracite.
  9. Once the fire has got to this stage, start adding the anthracite in small amounts. The pea- or nut-sized anthracite will work better than the stove-size. Add just one layer to start.
  10. Once the first layer has caught and is glowing orange, add the second layer. Continue this process until the whole grate is covered.
  11. It is important to add just one layer at a time, and to wait until each layer ignites. If you add too much in one go you risk smothering the fire, and having to start over. It will take approximately 5 – 10 minutes for each layer to ignite.
  12. The whole grate needs to be kept covered for the fire to keep burning, and should be around 8cm deep once you have added all your layers of coal. A deep bed of coal will burn better than a shallow one.
  13. Finally, turn the draft control down to the operating level, and close the ash door. It is dangerous to keep the ash door open and can lead to extreme – and dangerous – high temperatures.

And there you have it! It may seem like a long and intimating process at first, but after a few times, it will seem like second nature.

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This page was last updated on 11 April 2017

is operated by the Joburg Firewood Company PTY LTD. Registration number: 2017/127759/07. For complaints and compliments please call Peter on 011 482 5135. Physical address: 115 Maud Street, Florida, Johannesburg.
We operate throughout Gauteng in South Africa.