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Turns out our young Godson built himself a small furnace of scrap bricks in which to melt down aluminum cans. Using charcoal briquettes and a hair dryer (dedicated YouTube viewer) he had done so, but our little firebug wanted more heat and started jabbering away about making charcoal and he'd seen that on YouTube and, well, i had the retort made in a few days per the sticky here. Fuel was very dry Spruce, charcoal-to-be was Ash billets about 2"x3". Around here, smart folks split Ash in the winter at below zero temps, not mid-July sogginess. I'm not one of those when it comes to having this much fun. The Ash was not dry enough, billets too large or not enough space between. That's liquid (nasty) on the drum that poured out when the retort was opened. A small amount of unburned fuel left. The nice lumps i did collect are fascinating to me; slightly iridescent and that beautiful "ring" when the pieces are jumbled in the hand, enough to get junior a trial run. I'm hooked. Not sure i'd forge with it yet but very interested in what the yield will be when done correctly. Can i run this batch again when it's dry?002.thumb.JPG.17b2baf34ca5b5359dd96d954f005.thumb.JPG.b6f15281f614d7197cb768cc10007.thumb.JPG.7d627908d0564ef2a872961c5b

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Sure you can run it over again till you are happy with it, the further runs will just out gas less as the "raw" wood percentage goes down.  As you can actually use wood in the forge and let it coal as it goes (I prefer to cut down on the heat and smoke and fire fleas by building a separate wood fire and transferring coals over) you could forge with that.

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Thanks very much gents for the replies, i will run this batch again asap. Thomas, you tempt me with the idea of just using it as is. I've got plenty of wood but what i really want is my own little coal mine...

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