What is The Best Fuel for Multi-Fuel Stoves: Coal or Wood?
Traditionally, wood-burning stoves were intended to burn wood and wood alone. But buying a multi-fuel stove opens up the possibility of heating your home with either coal or wood. The question is, which of these options is best?
The first thing to say is that, contrary to what many people think when they set about buying a multi-fuel stove, it should be an either/or decision. It’s not advisable to burn both coal and wood on your stove at the same time as this can damage your flue lining. The sulphuric acid found in coal and the high moisture levels found in wood will combine to create a nasty solution that will stick to and erode your stove system.
Olympus 8kW Multi-fuel Stove
Smokeless is best
It’s also worth pointing out that, while most multi-fuel stoves are equipped to burn normal house coal, often stove manufacturers will advise against this. The amount of soot found in house coal can result in your stove system becoming clogged very quickly.
To avoid this, you can use smokeless coal to reduce the amount of smoke and soot going up your flue. Smokeless fuel has the added benefit of being better for the environment and being suitable for use in smoke control areas.
Of course, you should always check your owner’s manual for the final word from the manufacturer on what fuels are recommended for use in your stove.
Now getting down to which fuel is best for multi-fuel stoves, the answer is fairly obvious when you think about it. If multi-fuel stoves were the most effective method of burning wood, then what we know as wood-burning stoves would have become redundant years ago. The very fact that multi-fuel stoves exist indicates that they have been designed and engineered for the purposes of burning coal.
The most obvious example of this is the grate. Coal burns best on a raised grate since it needs an air supply from below to burn effectively. Wood doesn’t need this additional air supply, so when you’re using wood on a multi-fuel stove you might find that it burns faster than on a wood-burning stove because of the extra oxygen around it. Wood burners come with a flat grate, which limits the air supply to the fuel and results in a slower burn.
In short, if you’re thinking of using wood as your main fuel then it’s best to buy a wood-burning stove in the first place. By buying a multi-fuel stove, you’re already making a commitment to coal being the fuel you want to use most of the time.
For the reasons we’ve already mentioned, that makes smokeless coal the prime candidate. Some smokeless fuels that you might like to consider are anthracite, as well as a host of brand name alternatives such as Taybrite and Phurnacite.
Of course, a multi-fuel stove also brings with it the versatility of being able to choose which fuel you’d rather use at a particular time.
Gr8Fires 2016-11-27 21:39:25
@ Alexandra Gillett Thanks, Alexandra.
Alexandra Gillett 2016-11-21 09:28:46
This is very useful. I am thinking about having a stove installed, and this has helped me understand
the difference between a wood-burning stove and a multi-fuel stove.
Gr8Fires 2016-10-10 11:28:18
@ Enrico Hi Enrico The information you've been given is correct. You just need to choose whether
you want to burn wood or solid fuel when using your stove and stick to that while the stove is lit.
Once the fire is extinguished, you can choose again before lighting the stove next
time. Thanks, Gr8Fires
Enrico 2016-10-09 10:13:09
I have been told by the chimney sweeper that I shouldn't burn coal and wood together as it will
damage the linen of the chimney. It looks like something released by the smokeless coal will react
with the water released by wood and transform it in a corrosive substance. I was wondering if you
could tell me the best way to alternate smokeless coal and wood without triggering this reaction.
Gr8Fires 2016-02-12 12:01:27
@Luis Hi Luis, Sure, some great options here:
Luis 2016-02-12 09:14:18
Could you recommend a decent <8KW inset casette multifuel stove?
Gr8Fires 2015-06-18 12:34:18
@Bob Morrison. Hi Bob, Thanks for the feedback. We would generally use smokeless coal and smokeless
fuel fairly interchangeably. This is mainly because most fuel suppliers and manufacturers will refer
to man-made smokeless fuels as a coal and also because, for our purposes, we tend to be referring to
both natural and man-made fuels (and rarely need to differentiate). For most stoves, a smokeless
fuel - whether natural or man-made - will be suitable to burn.
Bob Morrison 2015-06-17 17:25:11
"Coal" and "Smokeless Fuel" appear to have become interchangeable on two posts on this subject.
There is of course "COAL" and "smokeless COAL" , a natural product which is mined, whereas
"smokeless FUEL" appears to mean man made products like Super Therm, Taybrite etc. Could posts be
made more definitive in future?
Gr8Fires 2015-05-28 14:15:09
@ Cyril Hopkins. Hi Cyril,The Mazona Olympus is 400mm deep. Thanks, Gr8Fires
Cyril Hopkins 2015-05-24 12:47:01
Hi, the Alympus 8 kw multi fuel stove that you are showing, could you give me the size from the
front inside door to the back of the stove please, thank you, Cyril.
Cyril Hopkins 2015-05-24 12:35:43
I burn smokeless coal on my Fireglow 33 multi wood burner when the fire is looking dull, this gets
it going again. I use about a bag a month. Kind regards.
Gr8Fires 2015-05-05 15:33:42
@ David Slack. Hi David, The spare stove glass for the Olympus is available here:
David Slack 2015-05-03 08:32:11
Dear sir/madam. Approximately 2 to years ago I purchased the Olympus 8 kW stove from you and the
plate inside has slipped off the holding bracket and broken my glass, do you sell the glass if so
could you please let me know how much it would be, Many thanks Dave
Donna 2015-02-08 18:19:50
Hi . Were using . Coal . coke and wood on our multifuel . The main reason is coke and seasoned logs
just simmered not giving flames or much heat . Tried kiln logs and coal ans its twice the geat in
half the time . Just proper clean and vac it daily . stove still like new . So far !!
Gr8Fires 2015-02-06 18:35:20
@Geoff Starkey. Hi Geoff, You can get conversion kits for some stoves (we don't stock the model you
mentioned), but generally it's better to buy what you really want at the outset, if at all possible.
Geoff Starkey 2015-02-06 10:02:35
Is it possible to start with a wood burning stove and then if needed, adapt to a multifuel burner (
I'm thinking of a Charnwood C7)
Gr8Fires 2015-02-03 10:24:30
@Matt The volatility of household coal can also cause problems:
Matt 2015-01-31 20:49:59
I've burnt house coal at the same time as logs on my Woodwarm stove for 6 years with absolutely no
issues. My flue is in excellent condition and when swept every year my chimney sweep gets no more
than half a bucket of soot out of it thanks to the efficiency of the Woodwarm. Coal is coal as far
as I'm concerned, and smokeless can be more harmful to your stove and chimney than standard coal.
Gr8Fires 2015-01-26 13:16:23
@ Dan Hi Dan, You shouldn't have problems keeping the fire lit with coal once it's going. Just make
sure it's nice and dry before use.
Gr8Fires 2015-01-26 11:32:08
@Brian Stokes That would tend to create too big a firebox. Using a conversion kit or a log retainer
would be better in those circumstances. Thanks.