Charcoal Making Anecdotes

This was posted by Kelly on another list.

Organic Farming appears to be the big opportunity and there’s a long list of Claimed Uses for Wood Vinegar

Following are a few links to articles that you may find of interest.

History and Use of Wood Pyrolysis Liquids as Biocide and Plant Protection Product

Effect of wood vinegar on soil properties and plant growth


The Use of Wood Vinegar In Reducing The Dependence On Agro-Chemicals

​Effects of wood vinegar on the soil microbial characteristics



Kelly Burnham

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I especially liked the wood vinegar paper.

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Need to get the Kemp on a trailer and up higher for a screen etc… Been thinking about building a trailer and all the material it would suck up. Well now, I was mowing to day and in the weeds I found an old auction score… :slight_smile:

Was thinking about using the tank to store hot heating water some day but now I’m thinking charcoal silo… It’s fiber glass.


Hi Jeff

your twister you are able to produce coal cooked perfectly?
How big timber you are using?


Hi Thierry,

The twister burned chopped switch grass. That was back in the day when I was trying to do something with switch grass. I used a leaf blower to blow the grass in to the burner. It did make grass charcoal. It was tricky to do and I do not recall the quality or quantity of char. Sawdust should work but tricky.

I had a short twister top that set on top of a barrel kiln like GaryG. It shortened the double cooker down to about one and a third in height. The barrel was cooled some, by the vortex, so the barrel might last longer. If I recall correctly the twister top burned up more of the charcoal and needed an electric fan.


Went for a drive after work and to my surprise something followed me home.


Looks like the end caps of a home heating propane tank. :smirk:

They will probably work good as cone kilns. surround with a sheet metal skirt air space at bottom like the Kon tiki.


Hi Mike and Bruce,

I was thinking propane tank also but no. Something from a mill. I think steel mill. Something is delivered to the “mill” inside of some kind of container. And these things are part of the container. These two are 40 inches in diameter. Hope it is not radioactive! :open_mouth:

Always wanted a cone kiln so I hope this shape will work. I would like to make a continuous version. I also have a 2000 gallon tank that I could stand on end, cut a door in and have the cone inside a fire proof housing. :slight_smile:


Had some time to give it a try. Well almost, I was doing about three other things at the same time so could not devote the quality time it deserves.

Need to work on my start up skills but I honestly believe that this is a keeper! I think this will obsolete the barrel system for me.

Here is a short video.

Here is the 2000 gallon tank I want to house it in.

Till next time.


Wow, now that’s what I call a storage tank. Fill that up and you will have plenty of fuel to run things on.

Hi Bob, I am planning on using the tank as a small fire proof cone kiln room. Insulate the cone from the outside elements. It would be nice to make it continuous but with the size of this cone I am not sure if it is necessary. Stand it up right, cut a door in the side of the tank, put the cone inside and weld an axle and tongue under it. Oh, a stack also. Put the heat shield around the cone and install some air intake pipes from the outside, just for kicked.


Would it be airtight for cooling?


For startup it is recommended to build a small “log cabin” stack to get things going. That works good for starting the fire down in the bottom of my curtain kiln barrel.


Yes, air tight for cooling.

For the above first run I used a shovel to scoop out the red hot char and into an air tight 55 gallon drum. After every third scoop I stuck the end of the shovel In to the pond water to keep from damaging the wood handle.

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Great idea. We don’t want it to be actually air tight. If you put hot charcoal in a drum and seal it with a lid and sealing ring it will create a vacuum and crush the barrel. I had to warn my friends in Rwanda about this after seeing a picture of this problem encountered by a fellow charcoal maker.

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Jeff, is that an old H?

I put the lid on then a cement block goes on top. Seems to, been doing that for some years now.

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That is an old M. Had two of them for a long time but they are gone now.

Dug that 2000 gallon tank out and stood it up. Later cut two or three slits, weld hinges over the slits then cut out the rest of the door. Then the cone kiln can move in.

the charcoal grinder is on the trailer right side of tank.