According to an old Wikipedia revision, charcoal burns at temperatures as high as 2600 °C. Other sources which seem less reliable give a figure of around 1000 °C. The Wikipedia article has since been updated to state a temperature of 1100 °C.

I know that it depends on the airflow, but how high of a temperature can normal charcoal (bought for BBQs) burn? Can it be used to melt metals with a melting point such as iron or steel?

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    $\begingroup$ Melting of steel is possible (how do you think steel was invented in the first place?), but requires special setup. 2600 °C seems unrealistic. $\endgroup$ Sep 28, 2016 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ The high value of 2600 °C probably corresponds to the adiabatic flame temperature of a certain charcoal in air (i.e. a theoretical temperature based on the heat of combustion of charcoal and the heat capacity of the involved gases, without any heat losses from the flame). $\endgroup$
    – user7951
    Sep 28, 2016 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ In open air at atmospheric pressure (BBQ) expect about 1000 °C or lower. It's enough to reduce iron, but not enough to melt it. That's why steel was first invented as porous substance, which must undergo thorough casting to form compact metal. In oxygen and specially constructed furnace about 1500 °C is expected. $\endgroup$
    – sa7
    Oct 3, 2016 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps even 2000 in oxygen. But I doubt about any useful setup to obtain 2600 from burning charcoal. $\endgroup$
    – sa7
    Oct 3, 2016 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ The problem with the question is that there is no unique temperature at which charcoal burns. There could easily be a 1,000 degree difference between the temperature in an open barbeque and a specially constructed furnace built with insulating walls and forced air flow. Iron can be melted but furnace construction is a skilled job and the limiting factor in the temperature reached. $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    Aug 18, 2021 at 14:24


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