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Author Topic: Making charcoal  (Read 4547 times)

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Offline Don P

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #40 on: December 18, 2017, 11:23:13 PM »
I'd appreciate a look if you have any pics.
How were you direct and indirect firing?
Several years ago a friend was making charcoal indirectly by filling a 55 gallon drum with wood, put the band clamp on the lid and laid the sealed drum on its side across angle iron that was across a cinder block firebox. He put the 2" bung on the bottom and ran a pipe from that hole back to the fire. The unburned gasses coming from the cooking wood would help feed the fire. It was working good until creosote, condensate and ash blocked the pipe. It's kind of suprising how far the top of a drum can go. We decided it needed a hinged steel flap in the lid as a popoff valve.

With this I was trying to find an easy way to make charcoal on site out of the slab pile. For a teenager this might turn a few bucks.

Offline gww

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #41 on: December 18, 2017, 11:42:55 PM »
Don
Thanks for mentioning the 50 gal barrel thing and also what to be carefull of on it.
Cheers
gww

Offline Paul_H

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #42 on: December 20, 2017, 10:25:26 AM »
Hi Don,

here is a FF link to a thread on making charcoal and running small engines on the the screened fuel. This link should take you to a charcoal grinder built by FF member Magicmikey

http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/topic,81327.msg1297600.html#msg1297600
eg  tregar  meste  på  Tulla, for  ho  var  krulla  i  ulla.

Offline Don P

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #43 on: December 20, 2017, 07:44:18 PM »
Thanks Paul!  I made the mistake of reading the whole thread and watching all the videos. That looks so much easier with charcoal. This could be a problem, that looks like fun  ;D

Offline Paul_H

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #44 on: December 21, 2017, 06:56:49 PM »
Yes,charcoal like sawdust is addicting!😀
I remember the threads you posted long ago of the charcoal kilns near where you were working. Pretty interesting,we have nothing like it around here.
eg  tregar  meste  på  Tulla, for  ho  var  krulla  i  ulla.

Offline Don P

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #45 on: December 21, 2017, 10:32:01 PM »
That looks like an easy way to get into running on wood. I liked Gary's method of making charcoal. I do have another tank I could make an afterburner out of for this tank. It would take the knuckleboom to set it, although that's do-able. I can see even when my smoke cleans up there is a lot of unburned gas rolling out of the drum, that extra burn room I'm sure would help clean that up. I like the big barrel for holding a fair amount of slabwood at a time. It makes a pretty good whack of charcoal but I can see that as a good thing, there are several vehicles that don't leave the farm but run a lot. That I think would be a good place for charcoal or wood gas.

The rotary screen is a great idea, looks very much like a gristmill's bolter reel. They start out with a fine screen for cornstarch and then become progressively more coarse as the ground grain travels down the bolter. There are dividers underneath at each screen change. What I've been capturing between chicken wire and expanded metal screens, my aluminum melting size, looks like about the size you all are using for transport fuel.

Offline bdsmith

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #46 on: January 09, 2018, 10:03:39 PM »
Don P:
I grind my charcoal with a Toro leaf blower using the vacuum attachment and bag.  I have to control the moisture content of the charcoal between "dusty" and "muddy" but I can process 5 gallons in about 5 minutes.  The Toro has an aluminum fan blade that fractures any size of chunk into 3/8" or less.  The unburned pieces pile up behind the fan and you can hear the sound change.

Also, charcoal used for biochar ought to be burned at a low temp - around 600 to 700 degrees.  This leaves tars and petroleum behind.  Various bacteria and fungi feed on these.

I have adapted the TLUD stove (Top Lit, Up Draft) method to my charcoal making.  I burn wood in a vertical sided pit and keep adding wood to move the combustion layer upwards. This robs the lower wood of O2 and the residual heat bakes out the wood gases leaving charcoal.
I have been making 2 to 3 cu yards at a time, with 5 to 6 hour burns.

Offline Don P

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #47 on: January 09, 2018, 10:33:33 PM »
Cool, I'll try some through my sawmill blower and see what happens. It has a steel impeller I welded up and it can take a pretty good hit, not sure if it'll grind or just pass it through. I could install a screen above the blades so it can't eject above the screen size, not sure if that would work or just clog but its a easy starting place. Thanks for keeping the ideas flowing.

 That's interesting about low temp and leaving hydrocarbons intact, that is the opposite of what I read... somewhere. That article was saying that the soil bacteria would clear it from the char with time but that it was not a good thing. I'm still at the open minded skeptic stage of learning. I'm hoping to get some passed around and played with.

With the recent cold snap we got into the charcoal slab pile the other day, we've all been blowing through the firewood this winter and it's early yet! There's still plenty of sawing to do there still though.

Just in case this works out, be thinking of doing this in a third world country to make cooking fuel and garden amendment and how to use that charcoal safely and efficiently in a simple tin can rocket type burner.

Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #48 on: January 10, 2018, 06:03:41 AM »
I don't really set out to make charcoal by using a coking oven or retort of sorts .However if I rake the ashes of my slash pile after a burn I may have as much as a 5 gallon bucket full of lump charcoal.
I burn the slash from the top down so in theory the smoke wafts up through the flames and as such the ashes tend to cover the bottom of the pile where it burns up with a lack of oxygen  .Presto chango charcoal

Offline Don P

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #49 on: January 10, 2018, 08:05:49 AM »
That works for very small amounts of grilling charcoal but the rest went up in smoke and ash. I'm trying to look at it sort of like the butcher, those pigs ears and ham bones are another resource.

Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #50 on: January 10, 2018, 03:41:00 PM »
A little bit is nice for grilling if you have time to do it .To me lump charcoal is better than briquettes .However it takes a good bit to get the fire going just the way you like . It's worth the time if you have the time .

Offline justallan1

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #51 on: January 15, 2018, 08:37:28 AM »
What I did was take a 20-25 gallon oil drum, punch some holes in the lid, cram it plumb full of wood and then put the lid on. I then put that upside down in a 55 gallon drum and filled around and on top with wood and lit the wood. I then took a half of a 55 gallon drum with no ends and perched that on top for a flue. I had already punched some holes in the bottom few inches of the 55 gallon drum that I have the fire in to let air in.
After I let the fire burn itself out I took the flue off and covered the 55 gallon drum with a chunk of sheet metal with a couple cinder blocks to weight it down and plugged the vent holes at the bottom with dirt.
The following morning I pulled out the 20 gallon oil drum and opened it to find I had probably 12-15 gallons of charcoal.
My little charcoal gasifier is built and hooked up to a generator, now I just need to bust up the charcoal and fire the thing up.

Online mike_belben

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #52 on: January 15, 2018, 01:05:56 PM »
Any of you guys ever look into making "active" charcoal?
Revelation 3:20

Offline TKehl

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #53 on: January 16, 2018, 08:59:32 PM »
@r.man or anyone else using a wood stove to make charcoal.

Do you put a lid on the bucket when you take the coals out or dowse them with water or?  Seems like they would keep burning if they were moved to an open bucket. 

Wanting to try this out.  Am I overthinking things? 
Lucas 6-13+slabber, Mr. Sawmill bandmill, orange chainsaws, JD SSL, Case Backhoe, farm tractors, trailers, and 150ish acres of trees.  Fledgling woodshop with CNC router, laser engraver, Woodmaster 712, and a Berlin 108 moulder (project).  Oh, and a lovely (patient) wife and four offbearers.

Offline Don P

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #54 on: January 16, 2018, 09:19:20 PM »
If it is still hot it'll burn if it can get oxygen, so yes you need an airtight lid. I've heard stories of old time colliers opening up the mound before it had completely cooled and losing it in a very hot fire.

I had a little pile of cooled charcoal on the ground a few feet from the burn barrel and had the bottom bung open, glowing bright. The black charcoal that could see the fire relit. Play in a safe area.

I noticed they have a charcoal retort set up in Liberia for turning their scraps into cooking fuel.

Offline TKehl

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #55 on: January 16, 2018, 09:55:18 PM »
Well, I just couldn't wait for a response.   ::)  Had been thinking about doing this for a week or two and had a bunch of extra coals in the stove tonight. 

I filled a 5 gallon metal bucket with coals from the fireplace.  It lit fire 3 times while I was filling it.  I threw a little snow on it to settle the flames with the intent of leaving enough heat to dry itself out.  LOTS OF STEAM!

After that, I packed 2 inches of ash on top and mounded our tremendous amount of snow (2 whole inches!) around the bucket smearing some on the sides to take advantage of latent heat.  Still some steam here for a bit.

So far the only casualty is the plastic handle on the bucket bail.   ::)  :'(   ;)
Lucas 6-13+slabber, Mr. Sawmill bandmill, orange chainsaws, JD SSL, Case Backhoe, farm tractors, trailers, and 150ish acres of trees.  Fledgling woodshop with CNC router, laser engraver, Woodmaster 712, and a Berlin 108 moulder (project).  Oh, and a lovely (patient) wife and four offbearers.

Offline bdsmith

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #56 on: January 16, 2018, 10:38:11 PM »
TKehl:
Ash will allow air in very slowly so the coals will remain lit.  They will also keep in the heat.  That's how the oldtimers kept from having to go through the pain of using the flint and steel to respark a fire.

Combustion requires 3 things - fuel, oxygen and heat.
You need an air tight lid on the container if you want to stop combustion or you can put water on the coals to cool them off.  Otherwise it will burn until only ash is left.

I have tried to a couple of different ways to smother the fire when I make biochar in pits.  I found that lots of water is the only consistently effective method.

Offline TKehl

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #57 on: January 17, 2018, 09:23:36 AM »
You bring up a lot of good points that I would have a hard time arguing with.  I had nothing to loose but about 10-20 minutes of my time.   

Unfortunately though, it looks like it worked.   ;D  Will open it this afternoon and see.    ;)

None of the packed ash “cap” has fallen and the bucket is cold to the touch.  I did pour a little water on the ash cap about 1AM this morning when I went out to feed the stove.  Thinking that frozen packed ash would be a better air barrier than just packed ash.  On the other hand, the bucket was already pretty cold at that time.  I don’t think wet packed ash made a difference over dry packed ash.
Lucas 6-13+slabber, Mr. Sawmill bandmill, orange chainsaws, JD SSL, Case Backhoe, farm tractors, trailers, and 150ish acres of trees.  Fledgling woodshop with CNC router, laser engraver, Woodmaster 712, and a Berlin 108 moulder (project).  Oh, and a lovely (patient) wife and four offbearers.

Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #58 on: January 17, 2018, 04:18:57 PM »
Charcoal has been around since cavemen discovered fire .When in England for example during the dark ages they set huge piles of wood afire to make the stuff.Covered the pile with dirt and watched it for several days on end .Those tending the fire sat on one legged stools so if they fell asleep they'd fall off which would wake them up .If the dirt cover fell away the whole pile could burst into flames and be lost,all that work .

Offline TKehl

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Re: Making charcoal
« Reply #59 on: January 17, 2018, 08:58:20 PM »
My setup:



Removal of frozen ash cap:



My supervisors  ;) :



Results:



Very small batch and still need to sift out the ash.  But, I had no money and very little time involved in this.  Charcoal came out nice and dry.   Pretty happy with the results!  ;D
Lucas 6-13+slabber, Mr. Sawmill bandmill, orange chainsaws, JD SSL, Case Backhoe, farm tractors, trailers, and 150ish acres of trees.  Fledgling woodshop with CNC router, laser engraver, Woodmaster 712, and a Berlin 108 moulder (project).  Oh, and a lovely (patient) wife and four offbearers.


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