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a couple of guys asked how i make my charcoal. this is the fast burn way of doing it.

you need a metal drum with a lid that can be sealed.i use a 200L drum.
make sure there is no holes in your drum you dont want it to draw any air other than from the top.
start a fire in the drum keep adding small amounts of wood untill your fire gets going. what happens is the wood catches on fire and burns for a few minutes
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but the flames burn all the oxygen in the drum so the flame goes out and the wood smoulders ( lots of smoke )
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when the wood has smouldered down
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add more wood
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keep the process going until the drum is full
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when the drum is full and the last lot of wood that was put in has burnt down put the lid on and seal the drum and leave it for 24hrs to cool down. what you should end up with is a drum full of charcoal.
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try and use the same type of timber so your charcoal is all the same.

it took about 3 hrs to do a 200L drum full but if you have more than one drum you can make as much as you want in 3 hrs.

if your charcoal spits, cracks and pops when in the forge lay the charcoal out in the weather and let it get rained on and that should fix the problem.

there are a few other ways of making charcoal when i make it the other ways i will take some pics and show how its done otherwise google making charcoal and there is all the info needed there.

i hope the way i explained this is understandable

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That'd be the top burn semi-direct method. Do you know what your ratio f wood to charcoal yield is?

When I make charcoal I usually use the indirect method and burn junk wood for the heat.

The quality of the charcoal is close enough to the same as to not worry about.

Thanks for the pics and description.

Frosty the Lucky.

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Gee my charcoal spits and sparks when it's damp and is quite polite when it's bone dry.

(Of course the mesquite is quite "pitchy" which cause trouble too but is not water soluble.)

What do you think the rain is doing for you? BTW We haven't had any rain this year---well 0.1" since Jan 1st and that was snow...

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On 6/24/2011 at 6:57 PM, Frosty said:

That'd be the top burn semi-direct method. Do you know what your ratio f wood to charcoal yield is?
When I make charcoal I usually use the indirect method and burn junk wood for the heat.
The quality of the charcoal is close enough to the same as to not worry about.
Thanks for the pics and description.

i have been using aus hard wood (stringy bark, red gum and red box) i split the timber down so it no more than 50mm thick and all about the same size. if i cut about 1.5 drums full of wood, when the wood is burnt it fills the drum up to the top.

 

On 6/24/2011 at 7:00 PM, ThomasPowers said:

Gee my charcoal spits and sparks when it's damp and is quite polite when it's bone dry.

(Of course the mesquite is quite "pitchy" which cause trouble too but is not water soluble.)

What do you think the rain is doing for you? BTW We haven't had any rain this year---well 0.1" since Jan 1st and that was snow...

i dont acctually wet mine because my charcoal burns without any spits an sparks. a blacksmith that i was talking to said that if your charcoal spits and sparks leave it out in the weather to get rained on. different timbers make different charcoal and they react differently when burnt.

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That's a pretty good yield for a semi direct retort Jim, it takes a good eye and more than a little attention to pull it off well.

We had some blue gum eucalyptus in the yard when I was a kid. It was imported to Southern California as RR ties and potential cabinetry and failed both ending up decorative. WE had to cut a few down and burned it in the fireplace but I don't recall it's characteristics. Heck, it's only been about 50 years or so.

Anywho, I don't know what kind of forging charcoal woods from your side of the planet make, I don't even know more than a couple by name.

Frosty the Lucky.

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Great thread. Tempts me to make a barrel myself, probably using Gambel oak, one of the main hardwoods available in south-central New Mexico.  I'll have to admit scavenging charcoal from slash and logging waste burn piles on national forests. Not the best stuff -- lots of conifer softwoods -- but for forging smaller stuff in a washtub forge, it worked just fine and the cost was agreeable.

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Softer woods like pine and Adler contain less silica and their for produce less ash and have been used for forge charcoal in Northern Europe. So don’t be afraid to use construction scrap.

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When I started I was convinced that hardwood was the way to go, mulberry, Osage orange, hackberry, Ash... I decided to try some pine from pallets now I use it exclusively. It gets hotter for me and I don't use any more of it. Where I work we get material on 4x12 foot pallets that have two or three 4x4 runners.

I use a 30 gallon drum for the burner and cover it with a 55 gallon drum when it's burning clean.

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