Biochar making on the cheap


I saw David the Good talk about this video. It’s definitely a neat idea for those that run a wood stove. You could also apply it to paint cans, metal buckets, and drums if you do the occasional fire pit like Bobmac does.

What I like about these systems is the BTUs aren’t being wasted, and that pyrolysis gas is helping warm your house.


Yeah I agree. Like you said you can do this with many items. I like dutch ovens myself.


That zinc is going to burn off have to be a little careful.

The metal cookie or popcorn containers work well too. :slight_smile: But I am not sure how they are getting thousands of dollars worth of char out of it unless there was some significant inflation.


Certain innoculated biochar can get expensive in the smaller weight sizes.


Years ago, when biochar was just barely known, l saw a package less thain a pound of inoculated biochar go for about 20$ in our local gardening center…


I must be rich!! I have 50 gallons of bio-char saved and that doesn’t include what I have put in the worm bins and composters. Just what’s screened out of my char fuel when I grind it. Inoculation? Urine for nitrogen, wood ash for potassium and charred and ground bones for phosphorous, all free sources. Or you can just throw in bought water soluble fertilizer. A good place for this link.

Biochar 101: Your Intro to the "Manhattan of Microbes"


Expensive bio-char from a store sounds like a “yuppy” product. A compost barrel with the “tea” flowing into a char container would work a treat.


Yeah for several years I mix my biochar in my worm bin with all my compost…

I read up on it a bit, from what I read if you char chicken manure it keeps the nitrogen in the manure, not sure if I want to deal with the smell though :wink:

Myself I am not making biochar to sell, I make it to grow food in my sandy soil from what I have seen in tests biochar is only really needed if you don’t have good soil. Sand needs something that will hold moisture biochar does that…

I remember watching an old video by Wayne Keith where he emptied his wood gas chamber out and where that charcoal was the plants did better… might not of been the charcoal, just perhaps Wayne touched it as everything he touches turns to gold :wink:


I’ve been saving up my fines and charcoal I forgot about and got rained on. Maybe I can loosen up this thick red clay. I’ve got a 55 gallon drum full of some Swamp Water and I’m pretty sure the bacteria in it is dead. Bunch of spring grass clippings were put in it, the rich dark green stuff.

Not sure if I should till it in or just pile it on top.


You need an air pump Cody. Something like this.

Mix up some Kitchen scraps in a blender with water, add to a five gallon bucket of water with some molasses or other sugar and pump air into it for a day or two. It will supercharge the microbes. Add this to your 55 gallon barrel of slop, mix it with a paddle paint mixer on a drill and pump air into that periodically to maintain it. Then you can add more clippings or whatever into it as you use it up. Doesn’t take long for microbes to eat up all the available O2, so make sure to run the pump on a schedule.


Lazy way to spread biochar :slightly_smiling_face:


I wouldnt call that lazy. Very very clever :grinning:

It seems cows dont pee and poop on the same spot? Main reason why we have a N2 problem in our poststamp-country, it is all collected together in the stables.


you probably don’t need to till it. but you do need to aerate it, and break it up. And probably add some base like lime (you can lightly add woodash but some plants don’t like it) and adding lime to clay soil typically loosens it by bringing up the pH. You need to promote oxygen in the soil. Worms, roots, etc need oxygen. You don’t want to disturb the channels the worms and roots create to bring the oxygen and water to the lower levels. As a general rule. The beneficial microbes are mainly aerobic. The anaerobic bacteria lock up nutrients and tend to be pests. Then you can add the mycorrhyzal fungus that helps significantly.

If you till, don’t go very deep, you are mainly just trying to mix air and aerobic bacteria. Adding some browns like leaf mulch. I think wood chips would count as well. Innoculated biochar should help as well. But basically any carbon source as long as the pH is remains fairly high and aerobic conditions are trying to be maintained will help.

I tried just dumping on grass clippings and leaving it, it didn’t work well. Chopped leaves, even mixed with grass worked a lot better.

It is early enough, that you might be able to plant a cover crop. The weather here was 72 yesterday, and 26 today. I don’t know what it is like there. But daikon radish with the long taproots helped my clay soil a lot. but I threw it on in the fall inbetween the rows kind of like a relay crop so it would winter kill. Last fall, I threw some seed on top of some scalped grass but we got an early freeze, and it stunted it at about 2".


Holy Moses!! That is expensive, look how much corn you added, and you didn’t even crack it!!! I thought you were cheaper then that. :slight_smile:

The reports I read biochar in animals all basically say “The use of biochar has also been shown to increase feed efficiency and weight gain of animals.” by decreasing pathogens in the gut.


Hello Sean .

Thanks for the reply .

I have noticed the chickens going to great lengths digging into a cow pattys just to find one grain of corn or anything else of value . :grinning:


You know if you keep your chickens from eating the corn, you could have a lazily planted, highly fertilized corn field. :slight_smile:


Joel Salatin in his video does much the same thing except he mixes his corn in with his hay in the floor of the barn so the pigs root for the corn in the hay turning it over to compost it…

That is the way to work with nature…


Excuse the horrible video, l do the same.

I use deep bedding and when enaugh charcoal acumulates from my operation l dump it in one corner and throw grain on it and the grond. Over time pigs will incorporate it with the manure and spent hay.

Been pumping literaly tons of charcoal in our fealds by this method in the last few years and last year while harvesting potatoes, it was the first time l saw an occasional black spot in the soil. Feels kinda good knowing l did something that will improove the soil preety much forever.


Yes Kristijan when you finally see pieces of Charcoal in the garden bedding it is like score! I have been mixing it in my compost piles all year long and let the chickens rototill it with their three toed feet speading it out. I then rake it into a pile again and repeat this process over and over. The chickens need to earn their keep too.