Friday 30 October 2015


It's hardly surprising that solid fuel manufacturers give their products names that conjure up warmth, light, comfort – a bastion against the cold encroachments of winter. Supertherm is pretty pedestrian, and Excel brings to mind software rather than hardware. But Warmblaze – you could eat your crumpets in front of that one. And Pureglow – why wouldn't you buy a couple of bags @ £9.50 for 25Kg? So we did, from the Coal & Diesel Boat Auriga on our way through Hawkesbury junction, looking forward to the cosy evenings the name promised.

Rick had said "It doesn't like to be poked", which seemed fair enough, though he didn't really explain why. When we finally came to use it, we found we could usually add some extra coals to it after two or three hours, but if we gave it a rattle before doing so, the bed tended to disintegrate and the new coals didn't catch. Once or twice I had to use kindling get it all going again.

Well, we could live with that, at £9.50 a bag, and get used to managing it. But it had other features that caused more consternation. The ash on the coals turned an unusual reddish brown colour, which got me wondering about its composition. More worrying was that I found it leaving a deposit on the upper part of the door of our Squirrel fire. At first this was white and seemed a bit furry, but towards the end of the first bag, it was red, and I realised it was also staining the fire bars. The next night the stain was all over the supports for the bars as well. Today I thought I'd brush it all off, and removed the door to do so. But I found that the deposit was not only red but distinctly oily. The same was true of the bars – there wasn't a lot to brush off, but it didn't touch the staining.

I googled it but the only report I found of any other boater with a Pureglow problem didn't mention stain or deposit. However, I decided enough was enough. It's bad enough getting oily deposits on the bits you can see – I don't want sticky stuff up the chimney. So with my wallet making small complaining noises, I left the remains of the second bag next to the drum for ash at the end of our jetty. It seemed a waste to throw it away in spite of my concerns, and someone else might appreciate a fiver's worth of solid fuel. Then I got a couple of bags of Superthem from the marina store.

And that wasn't £9.50 a bag!

1 comment:

  1. I can't remember trying Pureglow, but I've settled on Supertherm after some disappointing other coals. In my experience Supertherm doesn't like to be poked either! I still haven't really got the hang of keeping a fire in overnight. I think I'm too stingy with the fuel.