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Author Topic: Making charcoal  (Read 3189 times)

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Offline btulloh

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2017, 10:51:27 AM »
That' very interesting.  In your previous post, I thought the propane cylinder was used to make the furnace.  I wouldn't have thought it could be used as the crucible, but there you go. 

For some unknown reason, I'd like to make some aluminum ingots from scrap.  I can't really say why, but that's just the way it goes.

Keep up the good work.
HM126

Offline Don P

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2017, 11:32:56 AM »
Well, I really want to smelt iron and make a blade from local dirt but that's getting way out there :D
I had a juice can lined up to pour that second batch into. I was going to put it on the wood lathe and turn a pulley.

I need to play with simple moldmaking. Michelle has a nice aluminum garden trowel and a grain scoop I'd like to replicate. Then there is the tablesaw crank handle I broke back before the turn of the century which has tied up a perfectly good pair of vice grips ever since. Blower impellers and swinging waterwheel buckets, Victorian table legs...  :D

Offline btulloh

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2017, 01:43:34 PM »
That's quite a list of good things to do.  To quote our own Kbietz, "Never enough time . . . ".

Are you going to use sand molds?  They seem like they'd be pretty easy and you have some good patterns to start with.
HM126

Offline Don P

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2017, 05:21:24 PM »
Sand molding is on the list of things to learn. I've read up on it several times in the past but have never done any. I also have a tub of plaster of paris, quite old I haven't lifted the lid to see if it is a chunk or a powder but it can barely take the heat, it does need to be baked to avoid a steam explosion where greensand, unbaked regular sand molding, is porous enough that even though the sand is damp enough to hold together the steam can escape. Plaster is too tight to let the steam out so most of the moisture has to be driven off. As a kid I had a steam explosion when I was playing around casting lead, My "shadow" was  pretty obvious on the lead covered kitchen cabinets, something best avoided! I'm not sure if I'm technically still grounded  :D. If I remember right steam is about 600 times bigger than water and hot metal can make lots of steam instantly.

Offline gww

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2017, 06:00:45 PM »
Don
I am really enjoying this thread and hope you keep expermenting and also posting those expermants.
Cheers
gww

Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #25 on: December 13, 2017, 07:03:52 PM »
I've been following along, too.  I have a pile of aluminum that, someday, I want to melt down and make something...
John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 38" cut Bandmill up to 64' - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.

Offline Don P

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2017, 08:35:33 PM »
I'm glad y'all are enjoying it too, I've always wanted to mess with this end of things. So far about the only thing I've spent is time. I guarantee those old iron workers here a century ago were using river sand and hillside clay to make molds and refractory lining.

There was one of those aha moments yesterday, actually there were several, we call them ignoseconds cause whatever it was was usually really ignorant and you figure that out in the span of about a second.
One was, the heat and flame are not that visible, and it is some kind of hot. Always have the gloves on.
When the crucible leaked into the furnace there was a second of "where is it?".  "Uh-oh, I hope it doesn't run back to the fan" (Fan should be up with a downward sloping tube to the tuyere!) Quick check and the fan was good. Next thought, 2 or 3 lbs of red hot glowing aluminum just hit the sheet metal bottom of the pail, and I'm over snowmelt saturated wet ground, big spatter hazard. Probably better over a dry bed of sand. Happily, ignorant but unscarred  :)

Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #27 on: December 13, 2017, 08:40:03 PM »
Water expands 1,600 times when turning into vapor.
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Offline samandothers

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #28 on: December 14, 2017, 01:40:54 PM »
You are wise to recognize the dangers though a bit delayed but better than not recognizing and paying a higher price!

Enjoying the journey.

Offline Don P

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #29 on: December 14, 2017, 04:39:57 PM »
Slow learner but learning  :D
The camera decided it wasn't too bad out today.
This is the 5 minute furnace. Small blower, too much for this even, I had an old brake shoe I was shading it with most of the time, I can make an adjustable swinging flap. This would work for a number of pours if lined with some kind of refractory. It would burn hotter with a lot less fuel.



This is inside at the bottom, that is the tuyere, the blow pipe to the fan, the dropped pour did try to head back to the fan, that's melted aluminum in the pipe. Notice it burned though the sheet metal... or without going to the trouble of lining a quickie pail furnace it will last long enough for a few pound pour.



This is the dropped pour, I'll remelt it next time, charcoal floats and skims off easily. Sort of neat as art.



The lined furnace I'm thinking might be a flue pipe stuck in an old drum with hillside clay packed around it and a very slow warmup to cure it then continue on and fire. I'm going to bring the blast in either at several points around it (in our old local iron furnaces that duct around the old furnaces was called the windbelt) or from underneath like a forge to get a more even burn. You can see the cold back corner on the pail. My single inlet charcoal burning drum suffers from the same problem. When I have time I'll make a lined furnace and try again.

Offline Don P

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #30 on: December 16, 2017, 09:09:58 AM »
I got back over there yesterday and flipped out the burn barrel from that second burn above. What was up is generally to the right and the bottom end of the slabs as they stood in the packed barrel is to the left.


It looks like the fire went up from my too small inlet at the bottom until it found a level where it had enough air from above to burn and then it never got enough oxygen to really get going down below. I had other things to do yesterday so didn't take time to cut more inlets. I decided to start with a smaller looser fire in the bottom, let it burn and then start feeding those slab ends back into the fire as it could take them. I finished by throwing the roof board cutoffs in. (I pulled about 30 good pieces of reasonable length 1x6 poplar out of what had been chucked into that pile in the background ) I probably fed it every hour or so and then dropped the top on what was then only about a 3/4 full drum and sealed it off with a couple of scoops of dirt. When I would throw in a healthy amount the smoke goes white, steam, then if I had thrown on too much it would have green/yellow in it, unburned wet methane I think, choking it down too much.

I think I've got enough lump and blacksmith charcoal for the near future, my barn shed is about full of bags  :D
I'm going to start just burning and dumping the charcoal and make a pile. Screening and bagging on any scale would need work, its bottlenecking me right now, need to clean up and get out of his pasture. I'd like to have enough frost action after I pull out to help loosen up our compaction of that site over the past year.  I'll let it sit in the weather until I'm done burning. Then I'll get a hammermill and dump the rest through it and grind it to biochar. I cleaned up the planer shavings and put them in the farm compost pile. Moved the planer up into the barn for doing the loft floorboards which will generate a bunch more shavings. The ground biochar will mostly go on the pile with the shavings and I'll roll it all in. Hopefully it will be good black earth for their garden in a year or two

Offline r.man

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #31 on: December 17, 2017, 09:30:14 PM »
The easiest way to make charcoal that i have found is in an outdoor furnace. Load heavier than needed one visit and then shovel excess coals into a steel pail the next time. Sift out the ash after the pail has cooled and repeat. I am making fuel grade for a charcoal gasifier so I will grind the raw stuff into smaller pieces and sift out the dust. Without much extra time involved I am producing about 2 pails or close to 10 gallons of raw charcoal a day. I have made charcoal in an indirect barrel system as well as a direct and this is by far the least time consuming way.
Life is too short or my list is too long, not sure which. Dec 2014

Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #32 on: December 17, 2017, 11:38:15 PM »
That sounds like the best way - you are making heat that you are using and robbing a little to make the charcoal, instead of just wasting all the heat.
John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 38" cut Bandmill up to 64' - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.

Offline Don P

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #33 on: December 18, 2017, 07:18:51 AM »
r.man, Have you figured out how you're going to grind it? I was thinking a hammermill, curious to hear how people do it.  I'd really like to see plans and progress on the gasifier when you have time.

Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #34 on: December 18, 2017, 11:35:17 AM »
This is at the top of a burn cycle, so everything is glowing pretty well, but it's all charcoal. I could produce a couple barrels a day.

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Offline gww

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #35 on: December 18, 2017, 05:42:29 PM »
Dave
I have pulled that type of stuff out of my stove before.  Do you find that to be cooking charcoal?  I do know if you do it the indirect way and burn all the gasses out of the wood that you would not smell things like hickory smoke when you used it for cooking.  The stuff out of my stove looked ok but I have tried cooking over wood and it is terrible.  So, You may not be using the charcoal for cooking but does just pulling the wood out of the furnace get it to be smokeless or at least make the smoke not smell like smoke?  Smoke not controlled makes good meat bitter.

I could try it myself cause I am burning wood every day but figured if you already know, I don't have to waste a steak if I am wrong.
Cheers
gww

Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #36 on: December 18, 2017, 06:11:21 PM »
I haven't tried cooking with it. My interests are more along the lines of blacksmithing with it. These are softwood slabs. Hardwood slabs do the same thing. Actual split firewood I don't think would work as well.
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Offline gww

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #37 on: December 18, 2017, 06:52:45 PM »
Dave
I kinda knew you were using it for differrent stuff but thought I would ask anyway.  Thank you for taking the time to respond.
Cheers
gww

Offline Don P

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #38 on: December 18, 2017, 07:06:04 PM »
I've screened out some lump for grilling but haven't tried any yet. I suspect it is creosote or the tars stuck to the charcoal that is giving it the off flavor. One check I read somewhere along the way said that good charcoal shouldn't really need soap to come off you, if it is shiny, oily or tarry it was at too low a temperature so is not just pure carbon yet. That might be the flavor  ???

I picked up some playsand and firebrick today while I was coming home from the last round of physical therapy for the shoulder repair. I think I'll try lining a half barrel with bricks packed with hillside clay, fire it slow then try a melt and see what happens.

The roofers were finishing up at the barn so I cleaned up there, dumped the last load of charcoal and have just smothered todays burn. I think one more and I'll be out of that pasture.  Up behind the haybarn where we set up later and sawed from midsummer to fall has enough slabs and edgings for quite a bit more.

Offline r.man

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #39 on: December 18, 2017, 10:55:59 PM »
Don I built a grinder last year based on one by Gary Gilmour. Fairly fast with a separater screen built on to it and it gives good results. I do have a better gear box and motor to put on it as well as some dust control before I use it for large amounts.
Life is too short or my list is too long, not sure which. Dec 2014


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