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Making biochar in the wood stove

 
pollinator
Posts: 86
Location: Trumansburg, NY
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I made this video last year and thought I'd share it here.  We've been working with this system for a few years now, and have generated a large amount of very high quality charcoal while heating our home.  Feels like a very effective way to create a continual flow of charcoal while using the heat effectively.
Would love to hear notes and ideas from folks!
 
steward
Posts: 5010
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Hi Sean, I shared this same video of your last year .  I follow this process to make char and love it.

I started with a thin SS soup pan but after about 40 cycles it has developed holes in the bottom.  It still worked but was on its last legs so I upgraded to a steam table pan (or hotel pan).  Mine is smaller than yours, probably 6" wide by 6" tall and 12" long.  I think our stove is a bit bigger than yours but I'm happy leaving the extra space for the rest of the fire.

Mine will burn down to char in about 90 minutes.  I've found that it still keeps oxygen out even if the lid is propped open 1/4" or so on some taller chunks of wood.  As it off-gasses the wood shrinks and the lid settles down into place.  Our main fuel source is pallet slats that failed to be removed in one nice piece for pallet projects.  I set the chop saw up for 5.5" cuts and the pieces will stand up in the retort and fill it up efficiently.

When you put it outside on a cement slab, don't take the lid off to "cool it down faster".  That introduces oxygen and it will slowly build back up into a fire.  

If you pull it out of a hot fire, get it outside promptly because it can still be giving off some stinky fumes.  We usually just do one batch a day and pull the retort out of a cold fire in the morning so there aren't any fumes.

 
pollinator
Posts: 249
Location: North central Ontario
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Nice video.  The pans are a great way for using up scraps. I just harvest coals for my gasifiers and biochar the dust. I used to use containers  but they wear out with time. Nice clean efficient setup. Here is my much messier rig. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LKZPTBA-boU
Best regards, David Baillie
 
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