First Time Making Charcoal

Well…I took all the stuff up to the company shop today thinking I would start a load of charcoal and then work on a Simple Fire. I cut an end out of a 55 gallon drum and a 5 gallon bucket, then lit a fire in the 5 gallon bucket to get whatever was in there out. I had a few box elder boards with a little heart rot that I knew were plenty dry and cut them up to cram into the 5 gallon bucket using a singlejack to do it. QUESTION…should wide boards be face to face and crammed in the bucket with little to no air going between them or is that going to make it like trying to light a phone book where the only thing that “cooks” is the outside? (My hindsight is 20/20)
They were tight enough in the bucket that I could hold it upside down and set it in the drum. I filled the drum with wood all around the little bucket and some on top also and lit it up, then set a half of a 55 gallon drum on top to act as a chimney.
On an afterthought I decided to also try something I watched on one of the you-tube videos and filled a 1.5 gallon metal canister maybe with small 2-3 inch chunks of some juniper that I had here, put the top on and put a couple screws in the side of the lid and into the canister to hold it together, popped a vent hole in the lid and set it in the fire.
I let the thing burn for about 2.5 hours, but had to add wood a couple times because it was burning up pretty fast on me.
After it burned down pretty much all of the way I scooped the little canister out with my shovel and got it opened up wearing gloves. Yes, I’m a big ole kid and just couldn’t make myself wait for it to cool off!
I an simply thrilled with what the little canister yielded, very little ash and probably 3/4ths of what I had crammed in the thing to start with of great looking charcoal.
I’ll have to see how the 5 gallon bucket turned out in the morning.
I’ll post some pics in a minute to show you all what I did.

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This was the end result from the little canister. Let’s hope the 5 gallon bucket does as well.

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Welcome to the Dark side.

There is lots of great info on this forum about making charcoal. I have yet to try the barrel-in-a-barrel or the barrel + barrel-chimney-on-top versions (Ask Ray Menke about that, I think he is nearing 300 batches with that setup!) I am working on a retort system, and chasing the elusive goal of “how little wood can I use to get the process started?” Also I want to try and use the heat to dry more wood, as here in the NW I have a short window to dry stuff out. I think there is a lot to be said for keeping it simple, though, especially if you have plenty of wood. I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

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Thanks Carl.
I’ve read quite a little bit and watched bunches of videos in the last couple days. Honestly, I had no idea how this batch was going to even turn out, but had to jump in and try. Now I have something to expand on and start making changes.
I halfway think only using a 5 gallon bucket was giving the barrel to much room to let the wood burn itself up, but am not sure of that.
I just downloaded some pics from my phone showing the stuff that I was going to wait until morning to check. It turned out great.

Okay, I just couldn’t help myself and had to drive back up to the shop and see how the 5 gallon bucket did. I am for darned sure one happy camper right now.

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Well crap, those are some lousy pics. I did a video that I’m uploading to you-tube and will post it from there in awhile…if I can figure out how to. LOL

Lets see if the you-tube video works.

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Video works great Allan , and well done on the lovely black stuff soon have enough to start playing .

Dave

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i hear the sound of well cooked charcoal… yummie… :grin:

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Good job Allan, you are on your way to driving on wood!

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