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I Forge Iron

most efficient way of making charcoal?

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So I use the standard 55gal drum with tube in bottom to make charcoal... problem is that from a full barrel of wood I get less than an eighth of a barrel of charcoal. I use pine, should I be using a differnet fuel for more charcoal? And is there anyone out there with a more efficient method... cause at this rate I'm gonna cut my whole woods to the ground in 5 years.

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If you can't use the indirect method use the semi-indirect method. Once the barrel is smoking good (pyrolization is at or above 400f) put the lid (with the volatiles return pipe attached) on the barrel and let it burn it's own waste.

Even using the direct method you should be getting better returns than 12-13%, 30-35% wouldn't be unreasonable. It still isn't great but it beats buying it.

Nothing wrong with softwood charcoal, it doesn't last as long but it burns hotter. I know a number of guys who segregate hard and soft. They use hard for general forging and soft for welding.


Edited by Frosty
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I use the open barrel method and ussually get 40 to 50% return by volume.
If I use smaller than 2X4 I get less
You want the same thickness material raw wood not a mixture of sizes
I use 2 X material about a foot longer than the barrel.
I let this burn about 1 hour + or - depending on the wind.
When mostly burned through or when you grap with a tongs it breaks I plug the 4 holes in the side and cover the top
I then wet donw the sides and top of the barrel to cool and put out the flame.
It is a battle of not burning long enough which leaves heavy chunks whick I either add to the end of the next burn or use them in the fore anyway if small or burning too long and getting less charcoal

Try burning less time

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