“ Brand: Wildfire „
At first, moving into a very old, cold house we thought we would be able to cope with the night storage heaters and an electric fire.
All too soon, we realised that our little 1930's house was too cold for this heating, so we opened up our fireplace and had a Multifuel Stove installed.
We live in the country- loads of free wood - oh, if only that was the case!! It was certainly the plan, and to be fair to ourselves we have managed to acquire a great deal of wood for free heating. Unfortunately though we have also had to buy a great deal of fuel. We have bought more than we have acquired.
We have never had a coal fire or Woodburning Stove before, so everything we have bought in the last two years for the stove has been trial and error. Now, of course - we have found the products to buy that have suited us and our lifestyle the best. The following may not suit you as well as it does us. But our experiences and views are as follows.
Firstly I have to say - Coal is not cheap, not at all - it has shocked us how much it can cost to heat our home in the bitter winter months. Modern houses with wonderfully efficient gas central heating are light years away from the home we live in..... good job we love it!
The coal that we have found suits us best is the Wildfire Housecoal Briquettes. This bag of coal comes pre-packed in sizes of 5kg, 10kg, 20kg and I believe 25kg.
The smaller of these sized bags can easily be picked up in garages. We first bought a bag from the garage at Sainsbury's , we bought the smallest size at that particular time and it cost around £5 - we have discovered that you do not seem to save a great deal of money by looking to buy larger size bags.. £10 is an average price for 10kg.
If you are looking for this particular bag, you can't miss it. The bag is bright, vivid red in colour, therefore a quick scan of the garage forecourt and you can soon tell if this particular product is stocked.
Like all coal bags, the packaging is a thick, sturdy, hard wearing plastic - it obviously needs to be as it is carrying very heavy items inside.
I am an average woman, not overly "precious" - not the sort of person that frets whether they can carry something or not, but from my own experience, I try not to buy coal myself, much preferring my husband or son to pick it up for me, as these bags do not have carrying handles (and I would love to asky why not?) therefore if I pick up a bag from a garage forecourt, I have to be aware that I need to grip the bag tightly with two hands and I run the risk of breaking my finger nails (yes, a silly and very "female" comment I know - but relevant) and to carry the bag to the boot of my car, anything over the 5kg size is very heavy and quite a challenge, often I am carrying the bag and resting it against the front of my legs - and I can't tell you how frustrating it is on a damp day as the coal does not get stored indoors - it tends to be stored in lockable cages in the garage forecourt, therefore when it is resting on the front of leg you can be sure that my clothes get filthy.
Another thought here, which did not occur to us instantly was to make sure that there was something in the boot of the car to protect the carpet inside - we keep a couple clean bin liners in the car ready to spread out, to rest the bag on - once bitten twice shy! So, you need to be strong, to be able to lift the bag and hold it away from yourself and have something protective in the car to keep the bag, with its sprinkling of coal dust and water away from clothes etc.
This coal is not the easiest coal to get alight. However with a bit of tweaking and a bit of experience you will not have a problem.
We have a multifuel stove, so what works for us is to have the grate and ash pan all cleaned out, to have rolled up newspaper directly on the grate, kindling wood on top of the newspaper and then maybe 20 of the briquettes. Before we were used to our fire, we used firelighters as well, but we have since realised that we do not need them, as long as we allow a good five minutes of having the vents open and air being able to circulate through.
If you are wanting crackling coal with bouncing flames to look at, which undoubtedly look very attractive then this coal is not for you. This particular coal is in briquette form, possibly the size and a half of a golf ball.
This coal is long lasting, it takes some time to totally heat up, maybe 40 minutes from when you first light it, but then when you look into the fire you can see that the briquettes are smouldering and red. They burn slowly, possibly twice as slow as small traditional coal. They are a perfect base to put a log onto the top of, if you wish to - but for us we find that this coal suits us best if after the initial briquettes are totally hot and have the look of sold red embers, then we top the fire up with more lumps, we close the variable vent down to minimum and let the fire generate constant heat all evening.
At bed time we tend to add more briquettes (on particularly cold nights) and turn the vents off, so in theory they will burn even slower overnight, making the living room warm for when we get up in the morning.
If we were to top the fire up at 11pm and leave it on low, at 7am the next morning the embers and remains of the briquettes are still glowing read and it is possible to open the vents up, to circulate the air and add more coal or wood to the fire to start it up again - this definitely cannot be done with other coals that we have tried.
On a cold winters day, if we are at home all day, it is quite likely that we can use a whole 5kg bag of coal in one day - as I stated earlier, multifuel burners are great to look at and very cosy, but are certainly not a cheap way of keeping warm.
The ideal would be to keep the fire going on low, with these briquettes and be able to add free logs to them, if you are able to get hold of any.
These briquettes do not generate loads of ash, like many of the smaller pieces of coal do, which is a bonus - certainly you still need to clear the grate and ash pan every morning though, but after an evenings use the ash pan will not be overfull the next morning.
The web site gives these ingredients for the coal - which I have put on here for your information, but I do not understand one sort of coal to another, I am speaking from my own personal experience.
Anthracite - producing a good heat output and long burning times
Coal - to make it easy to light and give an attractive flame
Petroleum Coke - to give a high heat output and low ash
It's not cheap, it can be messy, but I think this is the best brand around.