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How hot can you get a coal fired forge?

According to "Marks' Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers", 10th, coal gas burns at about 3,590°F (1,977°C) under 100% air conditions. More or less air will decrease the temperature. This means that the maximum temperature of a coal fire in a forge is about 3,500°F (1,927°C).

Most organic compounds have a constant-pressure adiabatic flame temperature in a narrow range around 1950 °C.  Because compounds like wood, fat, and petroleum all have C-H bonds, C-C bonds and O-O bonds that are broken to release energy in roughly the same ratios, the adiabatic flame temperatures for these substances are nearly indistinguishable. It should be noted that, these temperatures are vastly higher than what any thermocouple inserted into a fire will register!

This means you will be able to melt common metals such as:

Metal Melting Point in °C
Brass 930
Copper 1084
Gold 1063
Iron 1536
Lead 327
Stainless Steel 1510

But not metals such as:

Metal Melting Point in°C 
Tungsten 3400
Molybdenum 2620
Iridium 2450

 

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