Wood and Coal gasifiers?

I’m new here and have ran across Not only wood but coal gasifiers . What are the different applications, do you make your own are is it plentiful where you are, and what are the pros and cons, between Wood verses coal ?

Hello Kip .

I think they are referring to charcoal VS wood . Below is a thread you may want to go over.

Thanks Wayne


Thanks Wayne, I’m in a new world here and this is so much to take in. I need all the help I can get. LOL !!!


Kip I’ll just say one thing regarding charcoal gasifiers that is implied in the topic Wayne linked.
When we say charcoal we mean lump charcoal from wood that’s been burned and carbonized all the way through. A lot of people use lump charcoal for bbqs or forging metals if they don’t want to use coke or fossil coal.

Briquettes are charcoal dust and small bits pressed together with a binding agent, not entirely useful for most gasifiers unless you have something like a WK that can chew up just about anything you can feed it.

Not to complicate it too much but there were gasifiers made for briquettes of Carbonite but that’s a whole different thing altogether.


Cody you are so right, in my Blacksmith shop I got four coal forges and one gas. The gas is so convenient and it’s gotten to where I can’t find good coal.


If you want to use the coal forges again, depending on the need I’d use hardwoods as the source wood to make into charcoal.

If you need some serious heat I’d go softwood, but it’ll burn up faster. I use softwood coal for forge welding.

I agree that lump hardwood charcoal is referred to as charcoal. Not the pressed junk that is used in grilling. In actuality, coal was gasified in the past into town gas for lighting purposes and cooking before we had natural gas available. Those gas works are Brownfield cleanup sites. Gasifying coal produces lots of tar and hazardous chemicals and clinkers. Recent coal gasification use would have been to burn high sulfur coal in power generating plants. Coal itself would be hard to obtain these days. But wood scraps are plentiful and easy to find. The wood we use is saved from decomposing or from being burned in a huge pile without any real benefit to anyone. Wood is a renewable resource.


Cody, just a interesting insert. Here, they used to use charcoal made from plumb trees for forge welding for some reason. Highly prized stuff…

By the way, @Tone , we talked a while back why chestnut charcoal was used for forging. The other day l found the answer. It self extinguishes when you stop force blowing air to it!


That is interesting, i’ve heard that cherry three charcoal should act something like that in a forge?
I use a lot of aspen charcoal for the forge, i’ve found it to work well, but it’s just a personal opinion.


In the passed we have use everything that one of my students would come up with. Even had on bring some Coke from a power plant reactor from down south, nothing like real coal.


Ha! You see Kip Coe, with your solid fuels forging experiences you know more than you think for gasifing wood solid fuel into a downstream to be used fuel gas.

Much good evidence shows that it was forging men. blacksmiths and foundrymen who seeing different states of gasses flaring off, thought, "Now if I could only capture those before they burned up for later burning . . . "
The Town Gas plants. Then, later IC engines fueling.

My wood fuel to energy has been 10,000 of thousands of hours lookie-see woodstoving annually. And hundreds and hundreds of hours open piles forest harvest burning off. This last done always wet and usually from safety only done in the Fall rains. Then just how to bring all of that wasted energy inside, harnessed, useable.

All of these solid fuels expenses can greatly help for woodgasing-for-power.
Far easier to teach a solid fuel combustion guy internal combustion engines, how’s, whys, whatnots than the reverse.
Teaching really, really experienced IC engine guys to set aside their made clean to them, dense liquid fuels experiences for wood-to-fuelgas is much, much more difficult.

Well head gas using engines maintainer guys are sure a rarely found bird.
The only other engines repair guys, even come close to woodgas are true dedicated Natural Gas engine guys. Rare birds too. And pampered, lazy, birds living on fed-to-them pre-cleaned up, moisture free, 90% pure gaseous fuel.
DIY woodgas aint that.

Welcome to the DOW
Steve Unruh


Forging tools out of available alloys can be done with almost any type of wood. Chuck Whitlock is out there in the NW working with mostly your softer varieties as far as I can tell. The Japanese swordsmiths, and I guess there are still some masters around working in the old ways, forge with charcoal and they start with iron ore and first beat the impurities out of that for their raw steel and then forge their alloys into it. Some of the finest steel ever analyzed came from their Katana’s, both ancient and modern. Then there were the viking’s who brought advanced steel making knowledge from Persia where there was no coal and all their processes used Charcoal. Sorry to get carried away. Some subject just blow air into my mindforge.


I used charcoal Once at a Renaissance Fair demo , it worked ok, BUT nothing like hard coal. Hard coal is what I use in making Damascus steel and forge welding.


They use softwood… probably because they have like 65000 layers and it is easier to forge weld with.

The process is lengthy and very detailed, with actually quite a bit of expertise. I wonder what the success to failure rate was for even an expert.

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They mostly had to use forge welding to make the most use out of high quality edge steel, with the softer more malleable core as a filler.

Unlike Damascus(real Damascus) which was a crucible steel like Wootz, melted and cast, then pounded out to shape. Can’t blame people for calling Pattern Welded steel as Damascus since it’s now a marketing term, you can replicate the pattern that Damascus gave off by folding in different ways and numbers of steel types.

The big thing about true Damascus steel is the trace elements of Carbide found in the ore around Syria.

Also for most of humanity’s time with Iron we’ve used charcoal, it was only cost effective to use fossil coal or coke somewhat recently. Entire industries surrounded making sure there was always a supply of good quality charcoal for blacksmiths and smelters to use.


read the wikipedia article. Labor intensive is understated. It was in part because their steel making was imprecise and contained a lot of impurities and a mixture of low, medium, and high carbon steel, and all 3 were used for their different properties. I can’t even imagine being successful at the whole process.

It looks like it more commonly follows the ‘we ran out of wood’.

Britain ran out of wood in the early 1700s and switched.

In china, the were using it in the 11th century, because of the lack of wood in a certain region.

In the US it was similar, we started with wood then probably ran out and switched to coal coke.

Ran out of wood… This always makes me think about the time when there were huge factories producing potash. They literaly just burned huge amounts of wood in giant furnaces just for the ash! No other use of heat. How wastefull humans can be.


I ran into this which I have posted because it has the nutrient content for wood ash. But they are stating 300k tons of ash are produced in maine, but 70k make it onto a field as fertilizer, and they make it sound like the rest of it is landfilled that kind of caught me offguard… You do have to be careful because it can contain cadmium, chromium and lead. you are supposed to check it.

It just seems like a waste to me.

“No other use for the heat. How wasteful humans can be.”
My comment would be better on the Charcoal versus Wood gasification. But that would not be in the current flow on that topic.

Many of us have not given up on straight raw wood gasification, yet.
The main reason is the suspicion that charcoal cannot but have wasted squandered away energy in it’s making.
I do not feel guilt or personal remorse over what has been done by humans in the past.
I do feel for what I am doing now.

Indeed. Wood is bulky. Wood does not actually store all the well past a few years.
But that is the personal use human scale check point when using woods-for-energy.
You can have what you can personally grow, harvest and process.
Charcoal in the past was the for-Cities fuel. Then fossil coal became the thing. Denser, more concentrated energy that did store well. Then fossil coal became BIG-coal. Then BIG-Hydro. Then BIG-Nuclear. To energy feed, and allow for ever bigger Cities.
What real purpose for these Cities, in an electronic exchanging age, eh.
That should be the real COVID lockdown lessons of the past two years.

I write this living far Rural by choice. Sent out to all of you across the world via remote small cities, server farms by a Rural satellite sending/receiving dish array.

I have steadfast refused to get “gasification” dragged into municipal solid wastes. Becoming a little cog in a big-Cities carry-on element.
I have steadfastly refused to get involved into BIG-agricultural wastes gasification. Again just a cockroach cleaner up of a feeding the big-Cities.
Yes. Yes. I’ve been small potatoes fixing cars, trucks, boats one by one. Fixing small engines. Fixing bicycles. Setting up small home power generation.
Working. Supporting family farmers and dairymen.
And all of the equipment’s and technologies originally manufactured for these did not need big-Cities. Small cities. Maximum of ~100,000.
I worked on one of the biggest world class wafer growing Fabs in the world. Located in then a small city of Vancouver WA USA, population of 72,000.
Vancouver got popular to Oregonians and Californian transplants. Now 3X that size. Virtually all large scale manufacturing got shuttled aside to divert the power and water to all of the new residents, their stores, their entertainments, their social needs.
Largest employer base in now the schools.
2nd largest is Hospitals and Health Care.
3rd largest is Retail/Wholesale/Warehousing.
4th largest is Constuction. Residential and Commercial.
Manufacturing; Farming are just not done here in scale. All of their support services employments are gone too.

The 100 foot tall brick smoke stack for the 150 year old Catholic School’s wood fired central heating furnace room will be coming down soon. To make way for more rack’em, pack’ed, stack’em over priced condominiums. Matrix habitats.

And I sit here now wood heating with trees wood from my own property.

Wood-for-your-powers keeps you scaled, as it should be.
Too old, and can no longer sweat the wood? Then file the saw teeth. Clean and oil the tools. Bench rebuild the small engines. Cook the soups and breads. Sew the clothes. Butt drag yourself along, doing the fine hand weeding. Tend and sing to the children.

Oh lord. Save me from the world changers. A 3000 year old prayer.
Anachronism Steve Unruh


I didn’t mean to get on the subject of Damascus making are pattern welded forging, I’ve been around blacksmithing since day one I guess. From early age of around 10 are so turning the blower from hammering out mower blades to artistic sign frames to fancey tables forged from fire and not a cutting torch and welding machine just to Big Little Giant hammers going. I had no idea that there where so many smiths here. I would love to see some of yalls work