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Old 12-29-2005, 08:56 PM
Askia Askia is offline
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Can you safely burn dried corn cobs in a regular fireplace?

In my never ending quest to beat the heat (or cold) was wondering if I could buy dried corn to burn in my indoor fireplace. Is this safe? Or is there some tangible benefit to buying a specially designed stove I'm unaware of?

Uh, and where exactly do you buy corn in bulk to burn anyway? Can I get the equivalent of a cord or is that too much or not enough...?

My house is not gonna smell like popcorn, is it?
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Old 12-29-2005, 09:25 PM
mambocrow mambocrow is offline
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I grew up on a farm. We raised corn (for cattle feed mostly), and did, on occasion, when the butane (propane?) truck was late in delivering more gas for the tank that supplied the space heaters, burn corn cobs in the fireplace. They worked O.K., but they burned quick. You'd need a few barnfulls to keep you warm through the winter. These were cobs without the corn. I don't know if you would have corn popping all over the room if you tried to burn dried corn cobs with the corn kernels still attached. Feed the corn to the squirrels if you have any and then burn the cobs.

You'd be better off buying cord wood (it works much better), and I think it would be cheaper.

Unless well designed for cold weather climates, fireplaces are usually more decorative than functional. Cast iron wood stoves can heat up a house far better than any fireplace IMO. Heat that would be lost up the chimney in a fireplace is radiated out into the room with a wood stove. You get more heat with less fuel.
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Old 12-29-2005, 09:27 PM
silenus silenus is online now
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Wood is cheaper. Unless you have a source for tons of dried corn cobs.......
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Old 12-29-2005, 09:39 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Corn cobs can be used in other ways if you are just looking to save money.
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Old 12-29-2005, 10:05 PM
aahala aahala is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askia
In my never ending quest to beat the heat (or cold) was wondering if I could buy dried corn to burn in my indoor fireplace. Is this safe? Or is there some tangible benefit to buying a specially designed stove I'm unaware of?

Uh, and where exactly do you buy corn in bulk to burn anyway? Can I get the equivalent of a cord or is that too much or not enough...?

My house is not gonna smell like popcorn, is it?
If you just burn corn regularly in your fireplace rather than a specially designed
stove, your clothing, the drapes and sofa will likely have a strong sweet odor.

You can buy corn for burning from a farm supply store, some hardware stores and perhaps a few Walmarts. If you store the corn inside, you need to be aware it
can attract rodents and insects or may come with insects.

The upside is the present relative cost--it can be a lot cheaper.
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Old 12-29-2005, 10:23 PM
Queen Tonya Queen Tonya is offline
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I know a few folks that installed shelled corn burning furnaces, but that's different than just throwing regular dried cobs into a regular fireplace.

This page seems to indicate that specialized furnaces are a must, but I didn't exactly see anything saying you couldn't do it, either. The biggest drawback would be how close you are to a lot of excess corn and/or cobs, and the storage space required. I have learned that the shelled corn furnaces require daily emptying, but that's as a primary fuel source not just supplementing with your fireplace and keeping your old furnace going.
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Old 12-29-2005, 10:39 PM
Chairman Pow Chairman Pow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty
Corn cobs can be used in other ways if you are just looking to save money.
Dare I ask?
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Old 12-29-2005, 11:02 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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Think outhouse.
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Old 12-29-2005, 11:34 PM
John Carter of Mars John Carter of Mars is offline
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The amount of BTU's available in a truckload of firewood is much greater than the BTU's in a truckload of corn cobs. (Corn cobs are very light)
If you're considering burning cobs with the corn grain still on them (ear corn), the price per ton for such corn will be several times what a ton of firewood costs.
Firewood will be easy to handle compared to either type of corn.

I don't know of any reason that one would burn corn cobs or ear corn in place of wood. Is there some reason why you want to do this?
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Old 12-30-2005, 04:30 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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About 15 years ago I read about someone who set themselves up with two mailing addresses (I think one was a PO box). They told all of their friends, etc. to use one, then used the other one to sign up for every possible junk mail, catalog, you name it that they could find. They used the resulting junk mail to heat their house all winter.

It's cheaper than corn cobs.
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  #11  
Old 12-30-2005, 05:29 AM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Carter of Mars
I don't know of any reason that one would burn corn cobs or ear corn in place of wood. Is there some reason why you want to do this?
It's just an opportunity fuel. I'd reckon it makes sense for only very, very few people who happen to be farmers that have a lot of extra cobs. Hey, it's mostly carbon neutral...

As far as downsides, corn cob ash is fairly benign, and it is not known to produce large amounts of creosote, so one could burn cobs in a fireplace without any risk that is really different than wood.
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