Charcoal is charcoal, right? I mean, how many different ways can we heat wood and other substances in the absence of oxygen?

We all know about charcoal, but not many of us know that there’s a difference between charcoal and activated charcoal. Both are derived from carbon, but activated charcoal has many more applications than regular charcoal because it is more porous. It’s larger surface area allows it to filter out more toxins than regular charcoal alone can.


Regular charcoal is most commonly used in the home; it is the fuel of choice for BBQs. But we also find charcoal in water treatment systems, in vacuum cleaners, even for creating pieces of art. Chances are, most of us have used charcoal at some point in our lives. Its versatility means it can also be used to remove chlorine from water and to remove bad odours.

Activated Charcoal

Most of the properties of charcoal may be evident to you. But what is activated carbon and what is it used for?

By adding oxygen to carbon, the porosity of the charcoal increases, adding to it’s surface area. The resulting material is known as activated charcoal. Thanks to its very high surface area, activated charcoal can be used in air purification, decaffeination, gold purification, metal extraction, water purification, medicine, sewage treatment, and for air filters in gas masks and respirators.

It makes such a useful material in these applications because it can adsorb chemicals, toxins, and gases that normal charcoal alone cannot remove.

Charcoal or Activated Charcoal?

If you need to filter water for drinking or to fill an aquarium, then you need to use activated carbon. It cleans the water more effectively, removing more than charcoal can. Regular charcoal is best left for drawing materials, odour removal and cooking thanks to its steady burn rate.

Visit Pearson Fuels coal merchants for all your fuel needs.


We all dream of one day having our own home. Sitting around our living room on big comfortable sofas. Just picture it. We bet you’re also imagining this scene with a roaring open fire – were we right?

What is it about a real fire that makes us all romance about having one in our homes; is it the crackling logs? The flickering flames? Maybe it’s hardwired into our DNA from prehistoric times, where fire meant warmth, comfort and safety.

Open Fire or Stove?

If you’re one of the lucky ones that already has an open fire in their home, then embrace it. There’s no better sound than a real fire, and they are great at warming up your home quickly. Open fires also use multiple fuels; mixtures of logs and coal create the quickest lighting, and longest lasting fire. Including coal means it burns hotter – ideal for the winter when it gets very chilly. It’s a cheaper option to get an open fire going than installing a stove, just remember to have your chimney swept regularly, invest in a grate and some appropriate fireside accessories.

If you have an existing fireplace you can have a stove installed. You can also have one installed into the corner of a room for a more modern feel. Having a stove installed can be pricey, initially. You will need to have a flue liner installed which can cost as much as the stove itself, so be sure to take your budget into account if you’re thinking of having one installed.

Open fires can be a bit messy, and dangerous if you have young children. This is where a stove is a much better choice. They are easy to clean, and don’t spill ash and dust around your living space. Also, the fire is contained.

Stoves are more of a design statement, whereas an open fire gives a more rustic feel, so decide on the aesthetic you want before deciding.

With your options in hand, you can weigh up the pros and cons before committing to your new fire.

Once you have your new fire, make sure you source your coal from reliable sources. Pearson fuels coal merchants in Stockport provide the best quality smokeless coal and firewood, as well as accessories and kindling.

Fuel has evolved a lot over the years. One of the most useful (and necessary) evolutions in the fuel industry is the creation of smokeless coal. Britain’s homes used to be heated by coal, which lead to a health crisis; as the toxic fumes produced from the burning process was covering the country in a lethal smog.

Modern society isn’t affected as much by pollution from burning coal as it used to be, as most homes are now kept warm by electric heaters, or a gas central heating. Those who do choose to burn coal and other fuels in their homes must use smokeless.

But what is smokeless fuel?

To comply with The Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968, fuels are carefully tweaked through the manufacturing process to lower their smoke levels. A mixture of naturally occurring materials helps modern fuel produce less than 5g of smoke per hour of burning. This helps improve the health of the population as well as being more environmentally friendly.

Smokeless fuels are approved as authorised for burning in Smoke Controlled Areas of the country. These areas were introduced in most large towns and cities in the UK in accordance with The Clean Air Acts.

Smokeless fuels must pass rigorous tests to make sure they are capable of burning without releasing an excess of smoke. These solid fuels are carbon efficient, ideal for both open and closed fire applications.

As well as evolving a more environmentally friendly fuel source, modern smokeless fuels also outperform traditional solid fuels, helping customers save money.

Smokeless fuels typically last as much as 40% longer than coal, producing 20% less CO2 in the process.

Heating efficiency is also increased. Multi-fuel stoves have a 65% better heat output with smokeless coal, compared to the 28% output achieved by older house coal. The high efficiency of modern smokeless coal means customers spend less time refuelling the flames and less money restocking their supplies.

Visit Pearson Fuels Coal Merchants in Stockport to stock up on the industry’s leading smokeless coal for your home fire.



Coal is known as a non-renewable source of fuel which means that our supply of it is limited and it will eventually run out. Due to this, scientists and expert are looking for alternative and eco-friendly alternatives for when the big day arrives in the distant future. With this said, it is interesting to find out where exactly coal came from and why we have only just discovered its abilities in the past couple centuries. Here is how coal was made…

Coal was formed millions of years ago back when the entire planet was covered in swampy forests and the environment looked completely different to what it does now. In these swamps many plants would grow. As life dictates however, some of these plants died and they would fall into the swamps, with new plants taking their places. After a long time, the swamp water became full of thicker layers of rotting plant matter.

The process of this took thousands of years and eventually the surface of the planet changed, and the water disappeared. Despite this, the repetitive cycle of plant growth, death and decay continued and as it happened more and more layers were formed on top of one another after millions of years. The weight of this, however, meant that a lot of heat and pressure allowed for chemical and physical changes to take place to the material. For example, the oxygen was forced out of the plant layers and a rich deposit of carbon was left. This eventually became the coal we know and use today.

As the plant matter that was placed under pressure was formed million of years ago at different intervals of time, coal can be separated into three different types depending on the value of chemicals that are present in the material.

For example, lignite is the lowest rank which means that is has the lowest amount of carbon in it. Bituminous is the next rank of coal and is often called soft coal. It contains a high amount of sulphur however is used to generate electricity, concrete, food and even cars. Finally, anthracite is at the top of the coal rank which means that it has the highest carbon content out of all of them. It is characterised by is deep black and almost metallic glossy texture. This is the type of coal that is typically used to heat homes because it can burn for longer periods of times and gives off less soot.

The world of coal is quite an interesting one. After all, many people presume that coal is one single rock and that our supply of it is unlimited when it is in fact the opposite that is true.

Our range of coal here at Pearson Fuels is the best of the best, which is why we are known as the best coal merchants around! To find out more information about this interesting fossil fuel, get in contact with a member of the team today!

Trying to burn freshly cut wood can be a nightmare. This is because it retains a lot of water, so even lighting it can be very difficult. If you do manage to light it, wet wood gives off much less heat, dies quickly, and creates a lot more smoke.

Although drying wood is a long process and requires serious forward planning, once you’ve cut and stacked your wood, time will do the rest for you.

Here is our handy guide to chopping wood:

It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying or cutting your own firewood – both should be done no less than 6 months before you plan to burn it. If you’re looking to burn the wood around the start of Autumn, cut or buy your wood around Spring time.

Collecting wood a year in advance will ensure it is definitely dry come time to burn. If you live in wet areas, remember that moist climates can affect the speed of drying.


Most wood you buy will already be split, but if you’re doing it yourself, choose a spacious area to wield a saw or axe without obstruction.

Keep your area clear of children and pets, and check behind you before each swing.

It is always best practice to favour level ground over an uneven surface for your chopping block.


You want to cut your logs to the specific dimensions of your furnace or fireplace. Take the dimensions of where you’re going to burn the logs and subtract three inches (7.6cm) from either the length or width, depending on how you insert the wood.

Mark where to cut on each log and then use your saw or axe to divide them into equal rounds. For those who live in a wet climate, cutting smaller rounds will mean they dry faster. Having uniform lengths of wood makes stacking much easier.


With your chopping block on level ground, set a round on top with the cut side facing up. Saw or chop the round into halves from the top down, repeating as needed with each subsequent half until they are of the desired size.

Even if your fire or furnace will fit a whole round, it is best to cut them anyway as bark seals moisture and makes it more difficult to dry.

Remember: the smaller the pieces, the quicker they will dry.

All types of wood and coal burning house fires pose a risk if you have small children. If you’re planning on lighting the fire it is best to know how to keep your family safe, what to set up in order to avoid burns and what to do to avoid any fires getting out of hand.

Follow these handy tips to keep your children safe around your home fires:

  • Keep a window open slightly whilst the fire is burning, this will keep air circulating around the room and prevent any overheating.
  • Always check the flue or damper is open before you start your fire. Ensuring it is open will draw smoke out of the house. Do not close it until the fires embers have stopped smouldering.
  • Use well aged, dry wood. Wet or green wood will create a lot of smoke and will cause a build up of soot in your chimney. Dry wood burns evenly and produces much less smoke.
  • Use smaller pieces of wood as they burn faster and release less smoke.
  • Always clean out old ashes from the grate before starting a new fire. A thick layer of ash can not only restrict the air flow and make a fire difficult to light, but can also produce a lot of smoke.
  • Make sure the area around the fireplace is kept clear of any objects that are flammable. Furniture, curtains, newspapers, books and children’s toys can catch fire if left too close, and plastic items can melt under the intense heat.
  • Never leave your fireplace unattended, especially if you have children in the house. Ensure it is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house. Try and avoid lighting it if you know you will need to leave the house at any point and there is no one to tend to the fire.
  • Place a safety screen around your fire so children wont accidentally burn themselves on the hot glass or metal.
  • Make sure all your fireplace tools and accessories are out of reach of small children. Also, make sure all matches and lighters are stored well out of harms reach.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case of an emergency.
  • Communicate with children from an early age, the dangers of fires.

Next time you visit your local coal merchants, you can ask them for more information on child safety around home wood and coal burners.


As well as adding a cosy aesthetic to your home, chimneys and fireplaces are also highly functional ways to heat your home. They add character and warmth to your home, but if they are not looked after, there are a number of potential issues that could arise. Here are some of the most common issues people with chimneys and fireplaces have:


Creosote is a black or dark brown tar that builds up on the inside of the chimney when you burn wood or coal. There are several forms of creosote, all of them can be harmful to your chimney. When they build up to dangerous levels they can cause fires in the chimney breast; in fact, many house fires every year are caused because of dirty chimneys.

The creosote prevents proper ventilation so harmful fumes can invade the home, causing carbon monoxide poisoning.

Having your chimney regularly cleaned by a professional will prevent creosote from building up and creating dangerous, flammable deposits.


It isn’t juts creosote that can cause a blockage. If a fireplace hasn’t been used in a long time, it can become blocked by bird’s nests, leaves and other debris, even neglected masonry can fall into a chimney and cause a blockage.

Chimneys should be inspected regularly to check for blockages, which should be removed by professional chimney technicians.

Cracks In The Flue

If your chimney flue is constructed of clay tile instead of stainless steel then over time, the extreme heat can cause a lot of stress on the material. It is important to get your chimney inspected annually to check if any damage has occurred in the flue. If it is damaged, a fire should not be used as the heat can reach combustible parts of the home and start a fire, as well as releasing harmful gases into the home.

Most coal merchants provide services for checking your fireplace and chimney as well as professional cleaning services.