Can a charcoal retort be run on only it's wood gas?

Hi there. I have an avid interest in making my own charcoal as I use alot of the bagged store bought stuff for grilling and camping.

My understanding for making it is that once the wood is heated to 500+ degrees it will start the pyrolysis of the wood inside the heated chamber. The gas created from this is often times used alongside the fire original built to start this chain reaction to help heat the chamber.

My question is. If done properly, could the wood chamber be heated with say a propane tiger torch and then once there is enough wood gas venting utilize it to maintain the heat? It seems as if many of these fires made for making charcoal in a retort are damn hot if only 600 degrees-ish is enough to make charcoal.

Just some questions from a newbie looking to experiment.

Hi there Robert!

Your idea has been used in many charcoal kilns. Garry Gillmore has a set of videos on youtube, showing a simple kiln made this way, and many others.

Althugh, like Garry does, is better (cheaper, easyer) to use wood as priming heat sorce, as the charcoal made from it is not wasted if done propperly.
Dry wood is essential!

Allso, in my experiance, althugh generaly such indirectly heated systems require some practice to operate and are more complex, in terms of bbq charcoal making, they are better.
A TLUD makes high qualyty engine grade charcoal FAST, but it tends to produce small bits of char.
If one wants biger chunks, slower cooking is esential. Fast gas escape from the center of a wood peace produces cracks that brake apart your char chunks. Great for a gasifier, not so much for a bbq.

The premium Japanese white charcoal is cooked slowly over a period of 3 days, the resault is charcoal with the original shape of wood. Rock hard, and it glows long and strong.


Yes, Kristijan has lots of experience and insight. Also see “Making Charcoal Without Smoke” on this forum for more charcoal making ideas.

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