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Failing to make Charcoal
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jema
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26565
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 05 7:45 am    Post subject: Failing to make Charcoal  Reply with quote    

Really impressed with this article:

A failed first attempt at making charcoal

I think we often learn more from failing, than from success.

I am a little curious though on the incentive to make charcoal?

Treacodactyl
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 05 8:02 am    Post subject: Re: Failing to make Charcoal Reply with quote    

jema wrote:
I am a little curious though on the incentive to make charcoal?


There are many reasons, one of the main ones is to stop the tons of the stuff we import from forests all over the world just for our BBQs!

Local wood turned into local charcoal cuts down on transport costs. Coppicing the wood keeps alive a valuable habitat.

I've always wanted to have a go and have tried on a very small scale with the opposite result, the wood stays half wood and half charcoal, still ideal for a BBQ as it lights well and there's no smoke.

This sort of activity is what some of the land grants should be being spent on IMHO.

Good luck for the next batch MM.

Blue Sky



Joined: 30 Jan 2005
Posts: 7618
Location: France
PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 05 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Interesting article.

John seymour recommends digging a trench, and filling it with your wood then cover it with corrugated metal sheets once the fire is raging. You then cover the sheets with earth to exclude all air and leave it for a few days to cook.

I havn't tried this yet but his methods usually work.

I'll be making some in preperation for the summer barbies here.

(he says hopefully)

mochyn



Joined: 21 Dec 2004
Posts: 24551
Location: mid-Wales
PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 05 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Good old Madman: not afraid to put his hand up to a failure! I have been wondering about this, so I'll be watching his future experiments with interest.

Lloyd



Joined: 24 Jan 2005
Posts: 2693

PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 05 7:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Failing to make Charcoal Reply with quote    

jema wrote:


I am a little curious though on the incentive to make charcoal?


Well, If I can master it, it'll be another string to my bow in using coppice by-products.

Blue Sky



Joined: 30 Jan 2005
Posts: 7618
Location: France
PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 05 8:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Failing to make Charcoal Reply with quote    

Madman wrote:
jema wrote:


I am a little curious though on the incentive to make charcoal?


Well, If I can master it, it'll be another string to my bow in using coppice by-products.


You go for it mate! never mind the doubters .... charcoal is charcoal, and if we can make it for ourselves rather than buying it then so much the better (sorry Jema)

jema
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26565
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 05 8:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Failing to make Charcoal Reply with quote    

simon wrote:

You go for it mate! never mind the doubters .... charcoal is charcoal, and if we can make it for ourselves rather than buying it then so much the better (sorry Jema)


Questioners rather than doubters! Some things you can easily see as being worthwhile exercises, others are more a labour of love.

Blue Sky



Joined: 30 Jan 2005
Posts: 7618
Location: France
PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 05 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

But surely Jema .... that beautiful summer barbie' out on the terrace is more than worth a "labour of love". I will certainly be putting all of my heart into getting my charcoal "just right" this summer

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 43966
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Sun May 01, 05 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Very interesting, I'll be looking to try this at some stage, as TD says coppiced woodlands are great.

Treacodactyl
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
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Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Sun May 01, 05 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Also, once perfected you actually get a fair bit of charcoal out. It can also be used for many other things.

I would also have thought it's a good way to transport the carbon out of the woodland as driving off the volatiles and water from the wood means you are transporting a muck lighter and easier to use fuel.

Anyone know of wood burning stoves or cookers that a designed to use charcoal?

Lloyd



Joined: 24 Jan 2005
Posts: 2693

PostPosted: Sun May 01, 05 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Treacs, how did you do yours?

Treacodactyl
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
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Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Sun May 01, 05 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

It's not worth mentioning as it was only a back garden experiment. All I did was use an old 2.5kg tomato tin filled with 1 inch pieces of wood. When I finished using the bbq I placed the remains of the charcoal on top of the tin. Then turned the tin upside down.

The results were not that bad, the bottom inch of the wood was burnt away and the top one still wood but the middle four were acceptable charcoal. I use the wood/charcoal the next day and no smoke was given off and they lasted well.

Have you seen Ben Law's 'The Woodland Way' book? It covers many products from the wood and details charcoal.

I've not seen much on how large or small charcoal kilns need to be as your oil drum would seem the ideal tool for small scale production.

One thing though, if you try another barrel I'd suggest finding a better way to make holes in it or you may end up spending a few months away from your wood.

trigfa



Joined: 06 Apr 2005
Posts: 189
Location: Llangernyw, North Wales
PostPosted: Sun May 01, 05 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

From the article:

"We created airflow holes in the barrel base, using buckshot cartridges as we had no suitable tools in the wood!!"

Thats a relief, when I saw the photo I thought it was to deal with anyone who might be tempted to help themselves to some free charcoal

Very interesting article....

judyofthewoods



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 804
Location: Pembrokeshire
PostPosted: Sun May 01, 05 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Charcoal has many uses, though some would probably require very controlled specialised methods of production, not to mention scale, i.e. for medical and industrial use, for filters (activated charcoal - don't ask) and more. I use charcoal if ever I have an upset stomach/belly, used to chew a small piece, but that was rather unpleasant, so I went the siss's way and bought some charcoal tablets from the chemist, cheap and very effective, it can help in mild poisoning (e.g. off food) and help with gas cramps in the intestine.
Another unusual use for charcoal, one I will experiment with is adding small grains of it to the soil. There was a very interesting Horizon program a while ago about fertile soil in the Amazon jungle, found in the search for Eldorado. Here the transcript. http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2002/eldoradotrans.shtml
If you are only interested in the charcoal bit skip most of the transcript, its only a bit at the end. Anyway, in another article online on making charcoal for g*npowder (was more interested in the equipment to be used for other purposes, honest) they said to use a meat grinder to grind the charcoal down to small bits (thoug in that article they went on to grind it to a powder with pestle and mortar). The site is down at present, but here a link to the page from where you can get more info, possibly another link
http://www.covenantacres.com/HowtoMakeBlackPowder.html
I have just made small amount of charcoal in my woodburning stove, shutting it down when the flames die down.
I wonder, MM, if the size of the logs might have something to do with how far you have to let it burn. If the logs are quite thin maybe bank it up as soon as the flames die back a little, ignoring the colour of the smoke, as it will still carry on smoldering anyway. Just an untried idea. Good luck with your next batch.

dougal



Joined: 15 Jan 2005
Posts: 7184
Location: South Kent
PostPosted: Sun May 01, 05 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

The part of Madman's experiment that puzzles me (as being utterly contrary to anything I'd heard of), is the sentance
Quote:
The fire continued for two days, with regular restocking of timber.

Restocking? I thought the idea was to *keep* it sealed, and NOT add anything...

And I'm a bit concerned about Judy's (indoor) experiments, because one of the gasses produced when burning with a restricted air supply is bound to be the deadly poisonous Carbon Monoxide...

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