I have just used a lot of pine cones in my last two biochars and it worked really well. They are easy to collect and ready to burn. The only caveat I have is, don't add them at the end, because they seem to off gas a bit more than other wood and they still need to be charred like other wood. They work like kindling, so you can use them with paper or cardboard to get the fire really roaring. I put them at the top of my TLUD.
I forgot to mention. Japanese knotweed should be a great one to make biochar out of. My only caveat is to make sure that you aren't accidentally creating more of the plants. It can root from a small piece of the plant. I live in the PNWet, so I wouldn't do that in between October and April. However, it tends to be very dry here from about May to September, so I would chop it then, collect every part of it, dry it out, and then yes, make biochar out of it. Did you know that Japanese knotweed is the primary commercial source of resveratrol for the supplement industry? I 'm almost 60, so I make medicine out of the plant as I"m killing it. Resveratrol is the medicine in red wine that helped create the French paradox-why are they so healthy if they eat goose liver and drink wine all day? I just put the chopped up orange roots into glycerin to make a glycerite-extract. Improves my health and saves me money!
Those are Douglas fir cones. I don't use the retorts like that because the volume of char generated is so small. It would take too long to make a difference digging it into my suburban yard, but it might be a good fit for someone else's project.
Yes they are Doug fir I have a lot so I thought they would be good proof of concept fule. Unfortunately the pocket rocket was too hard to tell when they were done or not hot enough to work for any but the outside layer. But practice makes perfect, when I get better at getting a complete burn I'll try to scale up.
So tried the campfire heat today. I could hear the gas rushing out of the pinhole in the lid. When it stopped I tried rolling the can to stir the insides and the lid popped off. Given the flames dancing on the cones still inside I don't think it was done yet. More experiments needed.
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