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Solid fuel info leads to solid knowledge

A stack of solid fuel piled next a fireplace in a cottage living room

Solid. Liquid. Gas. The three states of matter. The universal laws of physics apply to fuel too. So we have solid fuel, liquid fuel and gaseous fuel. Today we’re going to get up close and personal with solid fuel. Get ready for definitions, varieties, characteristics and more.


a shot of burning solid fuel coal glowing with red and orange flame.


What is solid fuel?

As with all trees of learning, we need to first water the root. So what is solid fuel? Well basically solid fuel is simply solid material that can be burnt to release energy – usually providing heat and light via combustion.  Here are some of the usual suspects – wood, charcoal, coal, peat, hexamine fuel tablets, dry dung, wood pellets, corn, wheat, rye, and other grains. These fuels are burned in all kinds of kit from solid fuel stoves to grills. The truth is that solid fuels have been used for eons to create fire. Solid fuel heating anyone? Moving forward they fueled the industrial revolution (pun intended) basically transforming the world as we know it. So it’s safe to say this innocuous fuel source has been a gamechanger.


Smokeless coal – we’ll give you the low down

So what’s this smokeless coal all about? We’ll fill you in. In a nutshell, smokeless coal is simply coal that emits a minimal amount of smoke when ignited. The origins of smokeless coal? Get the full picture here. However, here’s a super quick recap. Basically, conventional coal fueled industrialism. Brilliant for capitalism. Bad for the planet. By December 1952 London was engulfed in a thick pollution-filled smog. Needless to say, life came to a complete standstill and there were deaths too. As a consequence of this foggy nightmare, The Clean Air Act was brought in to reduce carbon emissions. Unfortunately, we still had a voracious appetite for coal. So, to meet the new emissions criteria, a new coal was needed. Something cleaner and purer. Smokeless coal was born.


Is smokeless coal banned?

No don’t worry. Last year’s changes to the Clean Air Act around traditional house coal and wet wood (wood with an internal moisture level of +20%) in units under 2m3. These products are now illegal both in the retail trade and domestic arena.


A shot of solid fuel coal just ignited burning with orange flames


How is smokeless coal made?

Before we delve into the detail – just a quick overview here. The main difference between regular house coal and smokeless coal is something called Anthracite. Anthracite (also known as hard coal or black coal) is hard, compact and dense. Anthracite is special because it contains the highest carbon content combined with the least amount of impurities, as well as the highest energy density of all varieties of coal.

Digging a little deeper, the base of smokeless coal is made up of Anthracite. Essentially Anthracite contains minimal volatile compounds and a super high carbon density.  We produce smokeless coal by mixing Anthracite with other natural binders into a fine mixture. After this, we put the mixture into special moulds and press’ the mixture using extremely high pressures. When you add up the effects of all the steps of the process you have a smokeless coal that emits about 80% less smoke than traditional coal. You might think there is some chemical wizardry going on here. But that’s not the case. Smokeless coal is a natural product. It’s simply made from an anthracitic carbon base.


Why should you choose smokeless coal?

The most obvious reason? Smokeless coal is better for the environment. Think 80% less smoke, and about 20% less carbon dioxide – and don’t forget the lower overall emissions and fewer internal volatile components too.  Now, a greener coal doesn’t hamper performance. Smokeless coal burns longer and hotter than conventional coal, burning for roughly 5-6 hours in standard fire tests. Say hello to higher temperatures too. As if things couldn’t get any better, a higher carbon density, produces less ash, making clean up nice and easy. In summation, smokeless coal produces little if no toxic smoke, plus it delivers a higher heat output and longer burn time. This equates to more efficiency. And as we know, an ultra-efficient fuel reduces our carbon footprint. Are you after a more versatile fuel? You can also burn smokeless coal in a wide range of appliances from multifuel stoves and fireplaces, to room heaters.


Where can I buy smokeless coal?

Nice to know you’re interested. Well, if you’re looking for smokeless coal in the UK, you can pick up as many bags as you like from Big K. Check out our website and grab your smokeless coal today.


A product shot of solid fuel smokeless coal from Big K in yellow packaging.


Why is Big K Smokeless Coal so great?

We don’t need to write an essay here people. The bullets speak for themselves.

£11.49 – £21.99

Medium sized pillow shaped coal pieces

Consistent shape and density in every piece

5-6 hour burn time in standard open fire test

Authorised for use in smoke control areas

Produces 80% less smoke than coal

High heat output

Ideal for open fires, cookers, room heaters, solid fuel stoves and multi-fuel stoves.

Looking to go big, stock top for winter and make a saving? We’ve got bulk covered too! Our 10kg and 20kg Smokeless Coal bags are also available in pallet deals.

So if you’re still feeling the lingering chill of winter, pick up a bag of high quality Big K smokeless coal today. Heat, performance and kinder on the environment; what more could you ask for?