“ Smokeless Fuel / Packed in 10kg and 20kg bags. „
Not so long ago my family and I went on holiday to Wales for a mini-break to help me recover from a bout of illness. This was definitely a needed holiday and as such I wasn't deterred when the weather became a little chillier right before we ended up going to the holiday cottage that we rented. My Mum picked up a number of items, from a petrol station, on her way to meet my husband and I in Wales. She picked up coal, wood, firelighters, kindling and more, half of which I felt wasn't needed and the other half I felt was in larger supply than was needed.
This smokeless coal comes in both 10kg and 20kg packets which are available from the Big K website, where you can find lots of other items for building and maintaining fires, fire pits and more. The 10kg bags are £5.99 on the Big K website but my Mum actually paid £9, which is about what I would have expected for an over inflated price at a petrol station.
This smokeless coal comes from Wales and is anthracite coal. This coal does not produce smoke and is therefore ideal for smaller environments, such as the cottage that we were staying in while on holiday, which had quite a small living room where we spent most of our evenings in front of the fire. This coal comes in a very strong durable plastic bag and it was simple enough to cut this open with a strong pair of scissors. The bag is yellow and black mainly so it is quite easy to spot, even if you only have the light from the fire, and as we were only on holiday we didn't fill up the coal box or even unpack this from the bag and instead we just dished coal out as and when we were using it. This was not a problem at all and the bag was very strong so we had no problems using it and moving it around if we wanted to, although with 10kg of coal inside it was quite heavy of course.
When using this coal we used it for building fires in the evening. Typically we used kindling and firelighters to make a small fire, added coal and then several pieces of wood at a time to keep the fire burning well. The coal acted as extra heat, of which is provided absolutely lots, and towards the end of the evening, when we added no more wood, the coals burned down gradually and provided at least another couple of hours of heat, often just finishing burning my the time the early risers in our holiday group were getting up for breakfast.
This coal comes in reasonable sizes, of a few inches cubed at least, and like all coal there is nothing uniform to the size really, just chunks in different widths and depths. The chunks are simple and comfortable enough to grab out of the bag although they did blacken my hands slightly, taking me to use an old pair of gloves quite quickly. This coal is simple to light, lightweight, burns for a long period of time, provides lots of heat and also creates less ash than other coals that I have used in the past. Overall while I feel that the price my Mum paid was a little overpriced I feel that this coal works very well, it heats, as you would want it to, it produces minimal ash and there was minimal smoke produced from this which was ideal as we were in a fairly small living room area and didn't want lots of smoke blowing back in when we were getting used to lighting fires. This was very user friendly overall, particularly with some people in our party who've never lit fires before, and we had a fantastic time snuggling up in the warmth in our holiday cottage playing games, drinking and generally just helping me recuperate from my recent bout of illness.
I have a multifuel burner fitted into my living room and it has double glass fire doors so that you can watch the fire glowing in the evenings, I love it as it's nice to snuggle in when the weathers bad and light the fire and sit and listen to music and have a bottle of wine with friends.
I usually burn wood but when the weather gets freezing around mid january early february then I buy coal to mix with the wood from the coal man , so that the fire stays in all night and the house is warm in the mornings.
I sometimes have to buy Big K Smokeless Coal Fire Fuel if I haven't stocked up from the coal man that delivers on our street. This works out a little bit more expensive than buying from the coal man, but when it's cold and frosty you will spend a little extra to get warm.
This costs £5.99 for a bag of 10kg and £10.99 for a bag which is 20kg.
The bag is plastic so can be put into the recycle bin when it's empty.
This is just an emergency fuel for me when I have run out of the loose coal from the coal man delivery, as my burner will eat a full bag of this in a day and night and I can't afford to buy a bag of this a day, so I only buy it when I have run out of the coal supply. It can be bought from some supermarket garages or online.
I use a firelighter and kindling to light the fire and then a few pieces of this coal mixed with a few larger pieces of wood until I have a good bed of glowing ashes in the burner, then I add a little more wood and coal together as it dies down.
This will last me a day and night if I use it like this.
The heat is constant and this warms up the radiators and the hot water in my house as it is connected from the fire.
I love having an fire to burn as there is a constant supply of hot water in winter and I only have to use the immersion heater in summer.
This coal is good for a stop gap when I have run out of coal but I wouldn't buy it everyday.
As my other fire product reviews state, I am a lazy firelighter. I like to light-and-go. But I can't do that with Big K Smokeless Coal. This has to be cajoled into lighting. It takes time to catch and when it does there is still an is it/isn't it period while I wait to see if the coal is actually alight or whether the firelighter I'm using is solely responsible for the heat and flames I'm witnessing.
The coal is available in 10Kg and 20Kg bags. The 10Kg is plenty big enough for my small fireplace and generally lasts about 8-10 3-4 hour fires, which for around £6-7 per bag is quite economical. Certainly cheaper than using the instant light firelogs I often resort to.
The coal is supplied in a heavy duty sealed plastic bag which requires scissors to open and which is sturdy enough to last through the lifetime of its open usage. There is, however, no means of resealing the bag, an unfortunate error on the part of Big K packaging designers since an open bag of coal is an invitation to a curious toddler... needless to say after one blackened face I rapidly saw the error of my tardiness in leaving the open coal bag in front of the child safety fireguard and it's been stored behind the brass cage ever since.
I'm giving this coal 3 out of 5 stars mainly because I can rarely get it to light without adding another product to it and therefore reducing the economic benefits of using this coal. I have tried lighting it with instant firelighters and tinder but it just won't catch for me most of the time. The firelighters don't stay hot enough for long enough to light the coal. Instead, I now place a layer of coal in the hearth and then place an instant light firelog on top. I light the firelog and this then burns for 2-3 hours and lights the coal beneath it which remains alight for a further 2-3 hours or so. For this reason, I only use the coal if I'm lighting the fire early in the evening and want it to burn for 5 hours or more.
Once burning alone there is very little flame from the coal. It is not an attractive fire to watch. There is the occasional flicker of blue flame, but not the roaring orange flame produced by wood. Instead, the coal glows bright orange. This gives off a stronger, longer lasting heat than wood, but at the cost of the pretty picture provided by a wood burning fire.
I only use coal on the coldest nights as I'm a sucker for a flickering flame and crackling sounds. I prefer wood, but know that coal is better at keeping the chill off.