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Snap, crackle, pop, charcoal block?

My charcoal block (hard, large block) arrived in the mail today. I
immediately set about to try it and was surprised at how quickly it
balled up bits of wire (compared to the silquar board) - I’m using
Argentium silver - but also surprised at how much it reminded me of a
campfire, with some minor spitting, crackling sounds and now it seems
to be just simmering away as it cools down.

Please tell me that this is normal. One loud snap and sparks did
make me jump back a bit. Very different than I was expecting.

Should I be spritzing it with water when I’m done with it?


The charcoal blocks we use are very dense, and they do burn away, but
not aggressively. Because they burn, they are creating heat, not
absorbing it - I assume that is why metal heats up quickly on them.
Most charcoal (like barbecue charcoal) is low density, lots of air
pockets, and burns fast, so is best avoided - suppliers might be
cutting corners by using low grade charcoal.I’m not talking about
reformed charcoal, either - I’ve been told that the really heavy ones
contain cement. They aren’t very pleasant to use, IMO.


you should remember to wrap the new block with stainless steel or
copper bailing wire (or any 20-16 g. wire, available quite
inexpensively in the US at harbour freight stores). It acts as a
heat sink and prolongs the life of any charcoal blocks (high density
or regular -cheaper- blocks).Water is a good thing to have handy in
case you overheat the block (too much heat for a prolonged period in
one place) you don’t however, want to soak it while using or the flux
may get diluted or contaminated and not stay where you have placed
it. After using the block allow it to remain in the annealing pan on
the crushed lava rock, pumice or sand - or whatever heatproof
container in which you use it - for at least 30 minutes after the
last use to prevent accidents arising from storing a glowing block.
Some people douse or quench their blocks but I have found that this
noticeably degrades the life expectancy of the charcoal block.
Another thing to keep in mind is not to concentrate a flame in one
spot to the point where you are making divots in the block within the
first few uses- keeping the flame on the workpiece and moving it to
evenly heat an object is the objective- Remember soldering is
intended as a “hit-and-run” operation. If it takes longer than, say,a
minute to heat any join on a piece to the temperature at which solder
will flow, you may need to use a tripod to evenly heat the piece all
over, not simply concentrated at the seam until it glows…Fluxes and
flux/ anti-firescale products like Cupronil ( made by 4S labs) help
indicate the temperature: when it liquifies or turns glassy. At that
point most solders should be ready to flow…hope this helps- alo
review the ganoksin Archives for a thread ( or 3!) regarding
charcoal blocks, seasoning them and other topics related to new
soldering blocks…rer

I wrote a little while back about my charcoal block acting like a log
in a camp fire. I must have purchased the wrong kind. Order two new
one s, hard blocks from Poland, I believe, and they are perfect. No
embers shooting off, no cracking of the block. I guess that there is
a big difference in kinds of charcoal blocks.Thanks for suggesting a
different block,