Why my coal is wet?
While the appearance of wet fuel can cause concern when first delivered the perception that the fuel is “wet through”, “sodden” or “unusable” is not correct.
During the manufacture of solid fuel briquettes the moisture level can be between 7 – 12% (approximated); this level of moisture has no detrimental effect to the ignition or performance of the fuel.
Natural coals such as Bituminous (House Coals) and Anthracites also have a natural inherent moisture level of around the same percentage (7 – 12%)
Due to the density of the briquette / Coal it is unable to absorb further moisture in any great amount, the increased moisture levels are usually minimal and the fuel while stored in the right conditions will return to manageable level relatively quickly.
All fuels supplied loose or prior to being pre-packed are stored outdoors. While outdoors they are subject to the elements. Rain fall tends to cascade down the mound of fuel rather than penetrate into the pile; moisture levels during this time will increase slightly. During colder weather or constant poorer weather (winter months) the higher moisture levels will be maintained. However during milder weather and depending on wind conditions the fuels will return to lower levels. During much milder seasons the fuel moisture levels will fall below the average levels.
In some (but not all) storage yards dust suppression is use, this is in the form of fine sprays of water into the air over the storage areas. This process is to capture the dust particles released from the fuels during movement.
Water is not directed at the fuels while in storage, they are not washed prior to loading or packing, and additional water is not introduced to the fuels.
Natural Coals are washed at source to remove excess dust / dirt.
HOW TO DRY COAL
Drying the fuel is relatively simple, if the fuel has been delivered loose and has been placed into a bunker the advice is to prop the lid open to allow air circulation. Also when obtaining fuel from the bunker take the fuel from the top of the pile rather than the bottom (from the hatch). If the fuel has been tipped into a coal house then leave the door ajar again to promote air circulation. In both instances the fuel will be under cover and thus reducing further moisture ingress.
If the fuel has been supplied pre-packed and cannot be tipped prior to use, ensure the bags are stored indoors / under cover, upright and off the floor where possible. Although the packaging does have breath holes pre-packed fuels tend to hold moisture levels longer due them being in a relatively sealed environment. Water collection is also possible within the bag if the fuel has been packed during poor weather or condensation has formed. Opening the tops of the bags prior to use will also assist, again by encouraging air circulation around the fuel.
During ignition you may experience an increased amount of smoke / steam for a longer period than usual while excess moisture is driven off. You may also find an increased amount of air and heat source is required i.e. opening the air vents to the appliance and or removing the ash pan cover for increased air supply, use a greater amount of kindling / firelighters to establish a longer and hotter ignition period. This will assist any excess moisture to be evaporated and the fuel should then reach normal operational temperature. Recharging an established fire will again produce an amount of smoke however the recharge will be placed onto an already established fire and thus have a higher fire bed temperature to assist in the reduction of moisture.