Newest Review: ... paid £9, which is about what I would have expected for an over inflated price at a petrol station. This smokeless coal comes from... more
Baby it's coal'd outside
Big K Smokeless Coal Fire
Member Name: HonestBob
Big K Smokeless Coal Fire
Advantages: Produces a hotter fire than wood and no smoke.
Disadvantages: Difficult to light and not as pretty as burning wood.
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.
Summary: Worth keeping a supply in if you have an open fireplace.
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