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I Forge Iron

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I made charcoal.

On Tuesday night my lady and I made a little fire while we had our video call with the Community Group crew. I filled a green bean can with some thicker sticks, then pressed it into the fire open side down. We built the fire around it. When we were ready to go inside for the evening, I spread the fire out, but left the can in place.

This morning, I dumped the contents of the can onto this old pan. The result is black, glassy, and sounds crispy. There is no un-pyrolized wood in the center of the sticks. Success!

Next step: try this again, but with a piece of steel chimney pipe covered at one end. We'll see if I can scale it up.

I am extremely happy right now. This is my first step beyond hardware-acquisition and planning toward actually heating up steel. 

Charcoal 1.jpg

Charcoal 3.jpg

Charcoal 2.jpg

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If you can make a small batch you should be able to make a larger one. I used a one gallon paint can and it scaled up five times with the exact same result. I used a semi direct method. I filled a five gallon steel bucket with some holes in the lid and put it in the large burn barrel and when white smoke stopped I plugged the holes. I don't remember if I took it out of the burn barrel or let The fire burn out. Regardless it worked great. It was last summer and I have a terrible memory. I'll have to figure it out again when I make a new batch. 

Pnut

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Here's the second batch. This time I used a tomato juice can (46oz?) and built a log cabin fire around it. What was in the can is on the right side of the pan. Due to the small size, it cooled quickly, allowing me to dump it out and fill the can with the coals of the fire, more than doubling my yield. The other picture is my current charcoal bucket after all this was added. I started with some bituminous coal from a friend, so it's not all my doing. 

Next up: my buddy is going to share a bunch of coffee cans with me, so this backyard venture is scaling up! I'll have extra cans too, so I should be able to collect coals without having to worry about dumping out one of the cans. 

I'm happy to say that I now have enough for a couple of heats... I think. Still haven't actually fired up the old coal forge. 

Charcoal Bucket - 04.20.20 (smaller).jpg

Charcoal Yield - 04.20.20 (smaller).jpg

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That looks awesome, I’m looking forward to getting back to my own setup to try and do my first batch. Do you have lots of dead fall and such to pyrolize? What kind of wood are you working with?

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FeyWest, I apologize for the slow response. I apparently haven't checked my email in two weeks. 

I live in a suburban neighborhood and I have a fire pit and a woodpile. My neighbors therefore share with me all kinds of wood. The original trees in our area were silver maples (the one in our backyard is the largest I've ever seen) and they are starting to age out. As people cut theirs down, I've been rolling a few rounds back to my house and splitting them. We've also got crab-apple wood (I offer it to anyone who smokes meat first), lilac, white mulberry, and soon oak. 

Right now I'm working through my punky wood pile. Summer is garden time for me, so I haven't made much progress yet. I figure that if wet, moldy stuff will pyrolize and get metal up to welding heat, the good stuff will be even better. 

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