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Does anyone else make Bone Char?

 
Posts: 119
Location: Eastern Ontario
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1- I raise organic grass fed beef,
2-I love home made soup
3-I hate waste
4- I love to garden
5-I heat exclusively with wood

So because of 1&2&5 I have lots beef bones that have been boiled for hours, days even over wood fire. Most people would just throw the bones out.  But we permies are not most people are we? I put bones in the wood fire where the residual fat burns off and the bones turn into nice crumbly bone char which along with the ashes, and accidental charcoal go in the garden.

Now everyone may not have the bone supply I do but Ive not heard of anyone else doing this but its such a simple and elegant solution I think everyone with a woodstove who eats meat should do.  Not only does it return minerals to the soil but I would think the charred bones are bio char just like any other biomass.

Thoughts?
 
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We Bokashi poultry bones and bury them as is.   But beef and lamb bones we char as well.   We put some of the bone char in the chicken coup for the chickens to use as grit.   The remainder we spread in the garden in the spring.

We don't add it to our wood stove fire out of concerns that it might create a soot build up in the wood chimney.   It would appear from your post that our concerns that way are unfounded as you get away with that.

The wife wants the marrow in the bones so boils them to get every bit of marrow and then cans what she calls bone broth.  She uses that instead of water in soups, etc.  We store bones in the freezer in the summer and outdoors during the winter.   Once we have collected enough, we throw them in a fire pit and light a fire and let it burn out.  The bones crumble in our hands after that.
 
pollinator
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Location: Mason Cty, WA
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I build a fire in a 55 gal burn barrel, and once that has embers put a fresh layer of wood and then bones on it. these are big gross bones like quartered cow pelvises , spinal segments, shoulder bones. once those start dripping into the embers and wood fire , I add more wood and then more bones, being mindful of the rate of burn and dampening, if needed, with excessive fuel.

When the barrel has burned from full to bone and wood embers, I quench it thoroughly. resulting char is mostly bone with a little wood. I haven't been doing it for long enough to speak to its effectiveness in soil building.
 
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We add our bones (mostly chicken and Muscovy) to our wood stove. My husband bought the proper brushes to clean the chimney himself and we've had no sign of trouble. The downstairs stove is a Pacific Energy stove, and I can't remember the upstairs one. I usually add the results to my compost heaps to encourage microbes to move in. I know it's not an ideal temperature for "biochar" but it's way better than them going to the landfill or attracting more coons (the current ones are stealing all the worms from my compost...sigh...but that's better than attacking my ducks.)
 
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If you have a problem with herbivores eating your trees and perennial shrubs, you could also try making bone tar a la Sepp Holzer.
 
Jay Angler
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Rebecca Norman wrote:If you have a problem with herbivores eating your trees and perennial shrubs, you could also try making bone tar a la Sepp Holzer.

I've been looking for a pair of suitable matching pots to make Sepp's bone salve in. What do you use?
 
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My neighbor raises chickens and has an incinerator to deal with any dead chickens he finds in his houses. He said I can have any/all he makes as this would help him (free labor-as instead of him cleaning the incinerator out and having to dispose of it, I would fill up a trailer or large totes). Can I use the ash from this as it looks to be mainly white powdery ash with some small (under quarter sized) bone fragments. I'm thinking this is mainly bone char but am unfamiliar with what this residue is chemically. I'm thinking it would be mostly ash (K) and calcium (Ca). But is there something that can be harmful in it, is it ok to use, and if it can be used then what amounts to use per 100 ft rows or per acre.
 
Jeff Marchand
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Wow C. What a score!!! I would nt worry about bad stuff in ashes. His birds are part of the food chain right?  If you had any reason to be concerned about bad stuff in ashes then his chickens or eggs would nt be fit to eat.


Maybe you could work out a deal to get his manure too!

Too many variables for anyone over the internet to advise you on how much to put on. Best I can say "Use your judgment".

Im trying to work out a crop rotation where I give crops that need phosphorus and potassium ashes and bone char and they are followed by plants that need more nitrogen.

For instance I believe brascicas, carrots , onions and legumes need more P & K than N. My understanding is potatoes like lots of N,P&K but dont like alkalinity that ash gives so i follow brassicas that got lots of composted manure and ash l, with potatoes. Spuds dont like fresh manure so by the time they get to bed manure is 2 years old.

I have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to composted manure so after potatoes bed gets more composted manure and 3 sisters are planted.

If anyone knows other annuals that need lots of P & K. Can you share?
 
Jay Angler
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I don't know what survives in ashes, but my concerns about the manure from an intense operation are: 1)residual growth hormones or antibiotics that could be excreted into the manure, 2)residual pesticides and herbicides that would have been in the feed - the standards in animal feed *may* be lower than the standards in human food even if they shouldn't be, and 3)the composition of the bedding - straw or hay could contain persistent herbicides that survives composting.
I got one bad batch of horse manure and I've been working for several years now to rehabilitate it. It grows grass just fine! Green onions seem to cope, but not thrive. Pumpkin family doesn't cope at all. The trouble also was that it was part of a larger compost pile some of which is just fine. If I can get organized, I'm going to try dousing it with a mushroom slurry and see if that takes care of the remaining issue.
I've also had issues in the past with too much ash changing the pH and annoying growies, so do look up the recommended rates.  
 
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I've experimented a couple times with chicken bones in my "soup can retort". They char very nicely, and were easy to crush afterward. Haven't used them in the garden yet, but they look promising.
 
C Rogers
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To Jeff M. I get 30-35 tons of his manure and he has been using it for almost 10 years on his gardens and fields for cattle. I used about 20 tons last year and crops did great. It composts for a year before we use it. I wasn't saying that the ashes had poison in them I was just concerned that possible there was too much of something, say potash (K) or Potassium, especially since using tons of chicken breeder litter has more N,P,Ca than regular egg hosues or even broiler houses. (New broiler feed actually has almost no nitrogen because of changing from corn to sorghum for protein requirements for the broiler birds) (sorghum unlike core does NOT produce ammonia gas in the chicken houses, this has helped them lower death rates by over 40%) But breeder litter is different because they feed them better (corn and clover seed) to produce more eggs that are fertile (has roosters in there to "BREED" them) but also they feed them limestone for grit and oyster shell to help make better egg shells (this also makes the litter more neutral vs other manures that make soil acidic). This better feed causes the resulting manure to be more balanced than any other chicken manures.

Jay Angler wrote:I don't know what survives in ashes, but my concerns about the manure from an intense operation are: 1)residual growth hormones or antibiotics that could be excreted into the manure, 2)residual pesticides and herbicides that would have been in the feed - the standards in animal feed *may* be lower than the standards in human food even if they shouldn't be, and 3)the composition of the bedding - straw or hay could contain persistent herbicides that survives composting.
I got one bad batch of horse manure and I've been working for several years now to rehabilitate it. It grows grass just fine! Green onions seem to cope, but not thrive. Pumpkin family doesn't cope at all. The trouble also was that it was part of a larger compost pile some of which is just fine. If I can get organized, I'm going to try dousing it with a mushroom slurry and see if that takes care of the remaining issue.
I've also had issues in the past with too much ash changing the pH and annoying growies, so do look up the recommended rates.  



I have looked at his operations and I know his operations has nothing that is harmful to plants or the birds (no hormones, pesticides or herbicides in feed allowed). He and I have used the manure on sensitive plants like tomatoes that would show any residual effects more than many other veggie plants. Also I have taken Micro Bio. I&II, Organic Chem I&II, Bio-Chem I&II and looked at all the feed and additives they give his birds, The only time they added antibiotics to the feed was a few years ago when other mass market chicken places had massive infections spreading and they (Sanderson's Farm) gave them it as a precaution. While millions of Tyson and others birds died, Sanderson didn't have a single outbreak.) Once the threat was gone they returned to not giving them any antibiotics. Now I can't speak for broiler or even egg layer (non-fert eggs) houses, I can only say what I've read and researched in my neighbors houses as this is my main fertilizer supply so I wanted to make sure of what I was getting. On the horse manure I have heard both the grass (grazon herbicide, and bacteria that can be in the manure can harm plants or even make us sick) Thats why I don't use horse manure from another neighbor who has stables. But going back to the chicken biochar, I was also thinking that it may have high amounts of potash (K) and could be bad, also I know that regular potash made from tree ash has salt in it which causes problems and was told to only use it every 3+ years as a buildup of salt in the soil is NOT good.
 
Jay Angler
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@ C Rogers - That is wonderful that you've got a chicken farmer neighbor who's doing it well! The only reason I accept the horse manure I do is that I trust the owner. I suspect that someone slipped up when one lot was contaminated. I've seen her garden flourishing, also suggesting it was accidental contamination.

I don't know enough about salt contamination to help you, but hopefully someone who does will read this thread.
 
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I only make biochar in the summer.  I have thought about starting to save bones until the summer, so I can throw them in with the wood.  I also like the idea of Sepp Holzer's bone sauce, but it sounds more involved.  I think I'll start with throwing bones in my biochar first.
John S
PDX OR
 
Rebecca Norman
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Jay Angler wrote:

Rebecca Norman wrote:If you have a problem with herbivores eating your trees and perennial shrubs, you could also try making bone tar a la Sepp Holzer.

I've been looking for a pair of suitable matching pots to make Sepp's bone salve in. What do you use?



We just used two similar large cans that had held vegetable oil. And a random piece of metal mesh that was around. We sealed the gap with mud plaster, I think. We only did it once (just after the yak-cow hybrids had come in and stripped some newly pollarded trees)
 
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Bones are made of calcium phosphate and you add them  only in case you need to add phosphorus.
Its a bad ecological behaviour to burn the bones if the Phosphorus its not needed because you release it back into the enviroment,becomes soluble and ends up in a lake or river where it causes algal blooms (eutrophisation/ death of the lake and all oxygen breathing living things in the lake).
It happens because the algae ( wich arent plants) can take the Nitrogen directly from air and they only need phosphorus to thrive.
I also use bones but i have a better solution to transform them .Instead of burning i fed them to my dog wich crushes them and the undigested bones wich i call it dog manure are better than charred bones.
Something like this
20190613_143802.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20190613_143802.jpg]
 
John Suavecito
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I have read that giving cooked bones is bad for dogs.  We don't want to tear up our food before cooking it, so giving her raw bones probably won't happen.    If I put cooked chicken or turkey bones out in the yard, vermin will eat them.  If I biochar them, apparently, that's turning the materials into waste in the streams.  I need a way to make the cooked bones usable so I can use the minerals in the soil but not attract vermin.
John S
PDX OR
 
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Jeff Marchand wrote: Does anyone else make Bone Char?



Intentionally? No. It was supposed to be bone broth. It went into the compost quite nicely, though.

-CK
 
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