Charcoal playing dead

I’m experimenting with ways to produce charcoal- the latest scheme was to use a sealed retort inside a stove- a partial success on the first attempt, but after letting it cool to the point where I could handle some of the chunks with my bare hands, I left it uncovered overnight and found an awful lot of white ash where the charcoal used to be. I dumped the remainder into the stove and drove off to get some angle grinder discs, and came back to find the stove had fired itself up quite nicely. No harm done, but the lesson is: keep warm charcoal in a deep metal container, preferably capped, or quench it quickly if you’re using it in the compost heap. Have fun, but be careful out there, boys and girls.

Brian this is something quickly learned by anyone making charoal. If you char punky or wood that contains rot’ it is able to hold fire even. Longer. Gary in pa

Hi Brian,
Welcome to the site. Your sealed retort drop in method kind of struck a chord with me. Check out my video.


Seems to work well- I make mine from empty disposable gas cylinders, when I can get hold of them. Here in the UK, the disposable MIG gas cylinders nest into the Rothenberger/Go System propane and MAPP gas cylinders with just the right clearance, and I make a twist lock mechanism to keep them together, and a loop to hook them out- they can then drop into any old bonfire, but I normally hang them vertically so that the tar gases feed back into the fire. One thing I need to get past in selling the idea to others with wood stoves is that once fully charred, they either have to be hooked out hot, or left taking up space in the stove until it’s cold. One thing to beware of is the avalanche effect- more heat=more gas=more heat, so scale up carefully.

One other thing- and I’m 99.9% sure that I’m insulting your intelligence- make double damn sure that gas vessels are empty before cutting them, and drill the propane cylinders and fill them with water.

The photo needs to be turned clockwise 90 deg. to make sense.