Preparing for Delivery: How to Store Coal, Firewood and Other Solid Fuels

How to Store Fuel: Coal and Wood

When you buy coal in bulk, or make a large order for firewood, it’s important to have an appropriate place to store it.

How to Store Firewood

We supply wood fuels in pre-packed bags or nets for efficient, protected storage. Wood fuels can be supplied locally as open sack delivery to storage areas, with a minimum order quantity of 150kg. When you receive your delivery, remove any plastic sacking and stack it neatly in your desired storage area. The risks of improper firewood storage include:

  • Mould and Fungus: these microorganisms feed on wood during the rotting process. If your wood remains damp for long, it will become home to mould and fungi and be unburnable.
  • Damp/Wet Wood: When wood is wet, it takes longer to light and burns less efficiently, creating soot and steam rather than heat.
  • Wildlife: small animals such as mice and hedgehogs, and insects such as wasps, have been known to build nests in wood piles.

Storing Logs Outside

It is best to store firewood outside. The important thing to remember when storing firewood is to keep it dry and raised off the ground for good ventilation and to minimise the chances of wildlife making homes in the pile. Neatly stack logs to keep the air flowing freely around them. A good rule to follow is ‘first in, first out’, putting the newest wood at the bottom and replacing your oldest wood on the top so that you use this first. This can help prevent infestations caused by wood sitting at the bottom of the stack for too long.

Store firewood with:

  • Log Store or Firewood Rack: the best option for storing firewood is on a purpose-built log store or rack. This keeps the logs off the ground and well-ventilated.
  • Woodshed or Garage: if the logs are kiln-dried, you can keep them in a closed space such as a shed or garage.
  • Pallet and Tarp: this is a last resort until you have somewhere sheltered to store wood, as covering can trap moisture around the logs and prevent them from drying properly. While the pallet keeps logs off the ground, cover the pile with a tarp when there is a risk of rain. If possible, remove the tarp on dry, sunny days to give logs a chance to dry out completely.

You can store a small number of logs indoors in a basket or chest, as well as kindling and wood-based briquettes.


How to Store Coal (All Types)

Storing coal is simple, whether you store it inside or outside. If you buy pre-packed plastic sacks, the coal doesn’t necessarily need unpacking. It is not necessary to keep coal dry at all times, though excess moisture when adding coal to the fire can waste heat in evaporating the water, and create steam that could corrode your chimney flue, depending on material.

We supply smokeless coal and coal briquettes in bulk, with minimum delivery orders totalling 150kg of any combination of products locally and 250kg nationally. We deliver right to your storage area.

Storing Coal Outside

If you have a large supply of coal, outdoors is the best place for it.

  • Coal Bunker: These are available in a range of sizes and made from durable metal, or plastic. The wide lid makes it easy to scoop as much as you need at any one time.
  • Dustbin: If you don’t have a bunker, a plastic or metal bin with a lid can keep your coal contained and dry outside.
  • In Pre-packed Bags: If the bags are weatherproof, you can stack them outdoors and store them this way.
  • Pile: If you have the space and don’t mind how it looks, you can store your coal in a pile. Keep it relatively dry by covering it over with a tarp or other waterproof sheeting, and be sure not to stack coal higher than shoulder height to avoid injury.

Storing Coal Inside

  • Coal scuttle or bucket: a small bucket for use next to the fire. This is useful for storing small amounts of coal indoors and for carrying it in from outdoors.
  • Storage basket or chest: This is a convenient way to keep coal near the fire, though they do not usually hold a large amount.
  • Cellar: a good place to store larger amounts of coal, if your home has a cellar this can help keep it accessible but out of the way.


How to Store Charcoal

Charcoal is carbonised wood, typically burned for cooking. When stored properly, it can last an extremely long time.
Our restaurant-grade charcoal is ideal for charcoal grills, tandoor ovens and barbecue cooking. We stock 12kg blue sacks of charcoal and deliver in bulk. These sacks are paper, so it is important to have your charcoal storage ready before receiving delivery.

The key thing to remember about storing charcoal is to keep it dry. If charcoal gets wet, it can absorb the water and become very difficult to light, even if the outer layer feels dry. If it becomes crumbly, charcoal is useless for cooking.

Storing charcoal outdoors

  • Metal containers: a metal bin or coal bunker with a lid will keep charcoal dry. Keep it out of direct sunlight, however, as on a hot day metal could heat up enough to ignite the charcoal.
  • Shed: Storing charcoal in a shed or garage can keep it dry and cool, as long as the area is not damp. Keep it off the floor, as moisture collects in low areas.
  • Airtight container: The best way to keep any moisture out of your charcoal is to store it in an airtight container. This could be a lidded plastic barrel or bin.

Solid Fuel Storage: Keep it Dry

The main advice we can offer is to keep your fuel dry. Even if coal doesn’t absorb water like wood and charcoal, you don’t want to waste the heat output on evaporating moisture, and you certainly don’t want to create humidity in the home by burning damp fuel.


How Much Coal Do I Need for the Winter?

Leaves are beginning to change colour, the nights are drawing in; it’s Autumn. It’s time to restock the coal shed, build up the wood store, and order enough fuel to get you through the cold part of the year. You can still buy smokeless coal for heating online, and collect or receive delivery in Wolverhampton, but how do you know how much coal to order?

Can I still buy coal for heating?

The law changed in May 2021 to restrict the sale of traditional or household coal. This is coal which produces high levels of soot and particulate matter that is 2.5 microns across (PM2.5), small enough to enter the bloodstream. PM2.5 is a highly dangerous pollutant for human health, and these laws are designed to reduce air pollution and improve the health of the general public. Burning wet wood is also known to produce this dangerous soot.

The restrictions mean that:

  • It is illegal to sell bagged traditional house coal in units under 2m3
  • All manufactured solid fuels, such as briquettes, must have a low sulphur content and emit small amounts of smoke
  • Sales of wet wood in large volumes must include advice on how to dry the wood before burning


Is Smokeless Coal Any Good?

Smokeless coal is just as good as traditional coal

Calculating The Right Amount Of Smokeless Coal For Heating

If you’re using coal for heating, you’ll want to make sure you have ordered the right amount to avoid running out in a cold snap. This depends on the type of coal you’re using and how much heat is generated during burning.

However, the formula isn’t one-size fits all. You also need to take into account:

  • House size: The bigger the space you’re heating, the more coal you’ll need. You can choose to just heat one room to save fuel, but its important to understand how heat travels through your home
  • Insulation: If your house is well insulated, you won’t need as much coal to heat it as you would if there are drafts or cold-bridges. Good insulation traps heat in the house for longer, but if you have gaps under your doors, single glazing, or an uninsulated loft, you could be losing heat quickly and require more coal.
  • Weather: in the Midlands, we generally have milder winters than Scotland and the North, but not quite as mild as in the South. For people living in cold regions, more fuel is needed to keep the home warm. It’s also worth looking at the long-term forecast for the season, as this can give you an indication of how much coal you’ll need.
  • Heating system: While an open fire is convenient, it is less efficient than a coal boiler or stove. You will need less coal if you are using a more efficient heating system.

Understanding Coal Consumption

The quick way to consider how much coal you will need is to think about how many fires you will want to light. As a general rule, 25kg of smokeless coal can provide anywhere between 4 and 8 fires.

If you’ve got the time, calculating your coal consumption is a fairly easy mathematical equation.


1. Calculate the size of the space

This is easier if you have the plans but an approximation will be fine. Measure the width, length and height of the room you want to heat. This will give you the volume of air in the room

If you want to heat the whole house with your coal fire, measure the width and length of the interior, as well as the height of upstairs rooms and the height downstairs. Multiply width x length x upstairs height and width x length x downstairs height and add these figures together. If you have a single-storey extension, add this separately.

Width x Length x height = space in m³
e.g. 5m x 4m x 2.5m = 50m³

2. Work out how many units of heat you need

To heat the room or house to the desired temperature. In these cases, this is measured in British Thermal Units or BTU, which is a standard used for describing the heat output of different systems. 1 BTU = 0.0003kw.

Typically, UK homes with double glazing require 80-135 BTU per cubic metre to heat a room to 20-21oC. Those with single glazing need 136-165 BTU for the same temperature.

Room size (m³) x 135 = BTUs needed
E.g. 50m² x 135 = 6750 BTU

3. Choose your coal

Manufactured smokeless coals can produce approximately 5kw or 17,060 BTU per kg, while burning anthracite coal gives off around 9.2kw or 31,390 BTU per kg, and is also low in PM2.5s.

Find the heat output of your chosen fuel on the coal merchants’ website or elsewhere online.

4. Calculate how many days 1kg will last

To do this, you divide the BTU/kg of your chosen coal by your BTU value from step 2.

BTU/kg / BTUs needed = days
E.g. 31390 BTU/kg / 6750 BTU = 4.7 days

If you’re using anthracite to heat a small space of 50m3 as in our example, you will need just over 200g of coal per fire to get the room up to temperature. 1kg will likely last 4 days, accounting for topping up the fire and keeping it going.

5. Calculate your required coal for the winter

Of course, you’ll probably start heating before December 1st, so when we say winter, we’re including late autumn and early spring. The heating season typically runs from 1st October to the end of March, which is 183 days. Divide this by the number of days you found a kg would last in step 4 to see how many kg of coal you need for the winter.

183 / Days = total coal needed (kg)
E.g. 183/4 = 45.75kg

It’s advisable to over-order, just in case the winter is particularly cold or the season is extended. We suggest adding at least 5kg extra, but there is no limit to the number of orders you can place, so if you’ve underestimated your consumption, you can order coal online.


Choose Efficient Fuel And Reduce Costs

It is important to choose the most efficient and appropriate fuel for your needs. Anthracite coal burns hotter and longer than most manufactured smokeless coal and is compliant with Smoke Control Orders and new coal sales legislation.

At Charles Swann Coal Merchants, you can order open-sack and pre-bagged coal to be delivered in bulk anywhere in the Wolverhampton area. We supply a wide range of quality solid fuel options and are always happy to advise on the best fuel for your system.

coal being burned

How to Store Your Coal in the Winter

As winter approaches, many people who rely on coal for heat begin to stockpile the fuel to ensure that they will have enough to last through the colder months. However, storing coal properly can be a challenge, as it is important to keep it dry and free from contamination. In this article, we will provide some tips on how to store coal in the winter to ensure that it remains in good condition and is ready to use.

Choosing the Best Coal for the Winter

Before we get into the specifics of how to store coal in the winter, it is important to choose the right type of coal for your needs. Different types of coal have different properties, and some are better suited for use in cold weather than others.

Anthracite coal is generally considered to be the best type of coal for winter use. It has a high carbon content, which means that it burns hotter and more efficiently than other types of coal. Anthracite coal also produces less ash and has a lower sulphur content than other types of coal, which makes it a cleaner burning fuel source. Anthracite Coal is considered a ‘Smokeless Coal’ due to these properties.

Bituminous coal is another common type of coal, but it is not ideal for winter use. It has a lower carbon content than anthracite coal, which means that it burns at a lower temperature and is less efficient. Bituminous coal also produces more ash and has a higher sulphur content than anthracite coal, which can contribute to air pollution. It is not possible to burn bituminous coal in domestic settings if you live in a Smoke Control Zone, such as London or Birmingham. It is also a risk to personal health to burn bituminous coal at home. New legislation as of May 2023 bans the sale of pre-packed bituminous or ‘house’ coal in England.

coal being lit

How to Store Coal in the Winter

Once you have ordered coal for the winter, it is important that it remains dry and free from contamination. Here are some tips on how to store coal in the winter:

Choose a dry storage location: Coal should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent moisture from getting in and causing the coal to clump or mould.

Use a coal bunker: A coal bunker is a container designed specifically for storing coal. It is usually made of metal or plastic and has a lid to keep out moisture and other contaminants. A coal bunker can also help to keep your coal organized and prevent it from spilling or spreading. If you don’t have a coal bunker, you could store it in a bin with a suitable lid, a shed, or another suitable outbuilding.

Keep the coal off the ground: When storing coal in a bunker or other container, it is important to keep it off the ground. This will help to prevent moisture from seeping up from the ground and into the coal. You can use a pallet or other type of platform to raise the coal off the ground.

Cover the coal: Once the coal is in a bunker or other container, it is important to cover it with a tarp or other type of cover. This will help to keep out moisture and other contaminants, such as dirt or debris.

Check the coal regularly: Even if you have stored your coal properly, it is still a good idea to check it regularly throughout the winter to ensure that it remains in good condition. Check for any signs of moisture, such as clumping or mould, and remove any contaminated coal immediately.

pile of coal

Winter Coal Storage 

Storing coal for the winter can be a challenge, but with the right type of coal and proper storage techniques, you can keep your fuel in good condition. Choose the best coal for the winter, store it in a dry location, use a coal bunker, keep the coal off the ground, cover it with a tarp, and check it regularly for signs of moisture or contamination. By following these tips, you can ensure that you have a reliable and efficient source of heat throughout the colder months.

Charles Swann Coal Merchants offers free open sack delivery to coal bunkers within 30 miles of Wolverhampton. Get your winter coal supplies online from our website or call us to place an order.


Charles Swann (Walsall) Ltd
Old Landywood Lane
WV11 2AP

Contact Information

Phone 01922 408 152
Fax 01922 711 350
Email info@swannscoal.co.uk

Copyright © 2023 Charles Swann. All Rights Reserved.

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