The GOOD, The BAD, The UGLY, WOOD for Charcoal Making

Everyone, what are your thoughts on making good, bad, ugly charcoal. We have all done it.
My first thought is I see old orchard wood piled up high in the area where I live. I think some of it is 20 years old. It has turned gray and black in color, it is cherry, apple hard wood. Would it make Good, Bad, or Ugly charcoal?
Thank You All for your in put on this.
Bob

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As long as it is sound, - not rotten - and 20% or less moisture, it should be OK.

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Don, thanks, I tried old soft wood and it turned out ugly, must of set around to long. I like your set up for making charcoal, you can just keep making it and pull it out the bottom.
Bob

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Bobmac, I think it would make Good charcoal, being hardwood, and already small. If you use the two barrel TLUD system, pack the lower barrel tightly with same size long sticks half way up into the top barrel. Collect a couple of wheelbarrows of twigs and little branches. Put two pieces on 1/2" rebar between the two barrels, and light at the very top using a bucket of crumpled paper balls. Keep them going with the small branches until a good layer of glowing char starts working from top to bottom. During the first 30 minutes or so, you can feed lots of small stuff into the chimney barrel, if you want to get rid of it. Watch the holes around the lower edge of the bottom barrel, and when one “illuminates”, cover it with dirt. When they are all covered, you are getting close. The charcoal level in the lower barrel will be very high, and you probably don’t need the chimney barrel any longer. If there are still flames, let it burn a bit longer, up to 2.5 hours. I like to stick a steel fence post into the barrel and poke around. Whether you dump it out and transfer it to an airtight container or quench it with at least 30 gallons of water depends on how soon you want to use the charcoal. Next, brush it over 1/8" hardware cloth, and pick out any brands. Now grind it so the largest pieces are 3/4"and smaller, and brush it back over the hardware cloth. Should be really nice hardwood charcoal. Because the wood is so dry, you will be able to make twice as much charcoal by feeding extra wood in at the beginning. The fines and “uglies” will mix with your compost and improve your garden soil. I made a huge pile by running three loads last week of that type of wood. Just be careful no embers get into your pile. If ignition occurs, at first you will only hear a bit of a cracking sound, then, in the daylight, you will see some white ash. If you don’t catch it, it burns really well, and this can even happen to quenched charcoal. (Guess how I know!)

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Thanks Ray, I just went out to work on the gasifier, the rain has stop, but the temp has drop down to the 30’s looks like no welding today. It was warm and sunny yesterday. It’s going to be a month or so before everything here drys out. I can hardy wait to try your method out. I’ve been making charcoal in my fire pit. It’s 3’ across 1’ deep steel lined.
Keep on Gasifiing.
Bob

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Hi Robert, Not to sound cocky here, but I do not see charcoal as Good Bad or Ugly! It is all BEAUTIFUL! Just that some charcoal you make it is better suited for some purposes over others.
The pile of old orchard wood will make great engine grade charcoal if it is not rotting. Grab it if allowed. The finer branches (1" in diameter or less) I’d be making into biochar. Most of the potassium and calcium is in the bark of a tree. Got pine? I love the charcoal from this for making biochar. Easily crushed and very plentiful on my property.
Now you can make charcoal that is not well “cooked” which can make tars to gum up your engine if used as engine fuel. This isn’t “bad” charcoal, just under pyrolised.
Orchard trimmings can be hard to pack into a retort unless they are chunked. You could try using a pyramid style kiln to char this wood. Much more forgiving in fuel preparation but you do loose some efficency. But if you can get the wood for free… Love that charcoal
Gary in PA

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Gary, thank you for shedding new light on what might be thought of as being bad or ugly charcoal. It’s now to me all beautiful for the purpose it is intended for. Even the ash is good for a purpose.
Bob

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Vacuum packaging

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Ok Tom, now we need the rest of the story.

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Yes the same thing happened to me when I first started saving my charcoal up in sealed containers , the red hot coals created a vacuum in my drum and squished it ,just the same as Toms drum , now days I let my coals go cold in a not so air tight container first before storing up .

Dave

Darn it.I wanted to be first at something here even if it was screwing up. :smile:
Hot coals plus good seal equals crushed can

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How many hot coals did you put in there Tom. I have been wanting to make a couple large batches to have some on hand for play time. I think maybe I’ll take a little time today. I have some construction demo wood to get it going I need to get cleaned up anyway.

About a third full. Little below the first ring. I made 3 batches before using same method but that lid had the gasket removed. Also used smaller wood chunks this time

Hi,Bob!
30.4.2017
Happy Birthday and Many Returns!

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Now i know how too crush barrels. For scrap.I have nothing agenst black white or yellow, just nozi ideas.

Thanks Max, it was a great 65 th birthday.
Bob

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Happy birth day a little late Bob Mac.

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That’s alright Kevin, at 65 years old now. I’m treating every day as if it was my 65 th birthday. One birthday day at a time.
Bob

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Well i gess were not suposed too worry about the far or near future, only we can, should be wise too the times, things too know ahead of time, and we seem too be seeing them eveyware. Good luck on your chunker and retirement times.My oldest bro turns 60 this month.

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Happy Birthay Bob!

I’m glad you are enjoying yourself. I hope to do the same in a few years.

Bryan Stater

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