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information on making Charcoal?

 
                            
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I spent the day at the river with the barbeque. I used the standard charcoal bought at the market and lighter fluid. I reminded me that it is possible to make charcoal. Does anyone know the method to gather charcoal or related information.
 
paul wheaton
steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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I browsed Ben Law's new book recently and it seems like a matter of fact thing to do ...  but I don't get it.  Why mess with it at all?

 
Dave Boehnlein
Posts: 294
Location: Orcas Island, WA
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Charcoal has a bunch of uses:


  • [li]you can use it to draw, like a pencil[/li]
    [li]burying it sequesters carbon for a long time[/li]
    [li]when activated, it can be used to filter water & remove bad taste[/li]
    [li]it eliminates foul odors[/li]
    [li]it has medicinal uses for digestive issues[/li]
    [li]people are also working with it as a soil amendment (a la terra preta soils in the Amazon - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_preta - see also biochar)[/li]
    [li]I believe it is also a byproduct of generating energy through pyrolysis/wood gasification[/li]
    [li]it can be cooked with (although that's a poor idea inside)[/li]


  • I don't know that much about it, but those are the uses I can think of off the top of my head. The terra preta thing seems pretty interesting, especially as a technique for transferring organic material from plants to soils in the tropics.

    It seems like someone must be working on an elegant system where you gasify wood to produce 2 products: hydrogen & charcoal. You could
    use the hydrogen to create electricity and the charcoal as a soil amendment. In fact, check out http://www.ecosoul.org/files/Avalon.htm. The town of Avalon on South Catalina Island in California is creating a diverse energy plan. That link shows the different fuels, processes, & products they intend to use.

    Dave
     
    Brenda Groth
    pollinator
    Posts: 4434
    Location: North Central Michigan
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    look up biochar on the internet..there are a lot of uses for char in your garden..we save the unburned pieces from our wood boiler for the garden.
     
    paul wheaton
    steward
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    Posts: 19442
    Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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    Apparently, the primary function of the TLUD stove is to get the charcoal out of it.



    So, when you are all done cooking several meals, you have some leftover charcoal.  If nothing else, the charcoal can be used for another clean fire.
     
    Sam White
    Posts: 221
    Location: Caerphilly, Wales, UK
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    forest garden trees woodworking
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    permaculture.dave wrote:
    Charcoal has a bunch of uses:


  • [li]you can use it to draw, like a pencil[/li]
    [li]burying it sequesters carbon for a long time[/li]
    [li]when activated, it can be used to filter water & remove bad taste[/li]
    [li]it eliminates foul odors[/li]
    [li]it has medicinal uses for digestive issues[/li]
    [li]people are also working with it as a soil amendment (a la terra preta soils in the Amazon - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_preta - see also biochar)[/li]
    [li]I believe it is also a byproduct of generating energy through pyrolysis/wood gasification[/li]
    [li]it can be cooked with (although that's a poor idea inside)[/li]



  • I met a bloke who makes his own charcoal for use on his forge as well. Makes his own billhooks out of leaf springs among other things.
     
    Jack Shawburn
    Posts: 230
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    Here is a TLUD kiln for making Charcoal using a 55gal drum
    The lid with the chimney is important as it mixes secondary air with
    unburnt smoke to give a cleaner burn.
    http://biochar.bioenergylists.org/artileafkiln
    If you just use a drum with bottom vents and burn then you get a lot of smoke.
    If you want to use the Char in the soil Soak your charcoal first with some compost tea, Vermicompost , EM , or kelp added before you grind it. no dust then.
    You can grind by putting in a bag and mashing it with something heavy.
    I made a grinder ( looks like a oversized blender) 5gal drum with wood in bottom, a central hole in the wood disc, a 1/2" rod with lawnmower blade passing through the lid and a electric dril (slow speed) - Do not try if you dont have experience with power tools ! Grind a little at a time.
     
    Matthew McCoul
    Posts: 68
    Location: Southeast Michigan
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    One way, both simple and cheap, is to use a 55 gallon drum, and a lid.

    Put 3 holes about half-fist size in the bottom for air flow. I use a chisel and a hammer.
    Put the barrel up on a few bricks
    Add wood and burn it to down to coals
    Remove the bricks so no more air comes up from the bottom
    Add some more wood.
    When that's down to coals, add some more wood.
    Add the lid when you have the amount you want, it kills the air supply and stops the burn.

    There are more efficient methods, but this one is by far the simplest to me.
    I once had a huge pile of sticks to get rid of. Found the drum on craigslist, made the holes, and charred the whole pile all that day. The drum cost me $15
     
    Druce Batstone
    Posts: 34
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    I agree with Matthew with a small variation. The top is cut out of the drum. A fire is started in the drum on its side. When the fire is well and truly alight, the drum is stood on its intact base. Wood is added in small batches. The fire above burns well with little smoke and starves the underlying coals of oxygen. When full (after about 4 to 6 hours), the cut out lid is placed on top, steel rods pushed through holes in the side and the drum turned over so the top is now the base. Sand or soil is shovelled around the base to fully seal the drum.

    The method is well described in http://nswcommunities.org.au/uploads/media/Charcoal44v2.pdf. I usually have two drums on the go on charcoal making days.
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