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I use charcoal for my forge. It costs me $10 for 20lb. $10 every 3 1/2 hours.
I have access to 13 acres of trees. Dead ones to. Lol. Since I have to get up at 630 to leave by 7 for school at 8, I am going to get up at 5, and make charcoal. Once it's going, put the lid on, and head to school. I will be taking pictures and making a report on this. Easy way to supply your own fuel. I'm hopefully going to be able to start this either by friday or this coming monday. I am going to get it going....watch it for about an hour, once I can see that it's in the burnout stage, I'll put the lid on, plug the holes at the bottom with dirt. Take a shower, eat, go to school. Any things I should know before this. I've read tons of guides.

55gl Metal Bucket. And tons of wood.


Best Regards,
John

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Good luck to you, m_brothers. I've never been able to make charcoal quite that easily. I've tried that method a few times, but, apparently with the wrong air supply, which leads to a barrel full of wood or a barrel full of ashes. My wife tells me other men are smarter.

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I would not try to leave it. Do it over the weekend. I would not recommend leaving the property at any time. You should be closer to it in case something does go wrong, maybe set the woods on fire. Not a good idea to leave any fire unattended. This is not the same as an air tight wood stove.

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Don't forget to forge a potholder. You can cook your breakfast, brew coffee or tea while watching it!

Good luck, be sensible and play safe,
Matt (who would gladly swap his 12'x10' concrete yard for 13 acres of woodland)

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There is a learning curve for each coaling set up that you have to learn by experience just how much fuel to put in and how much you need to let it burn before cutting off the air. (Also size of fuel, how long to let it sit, etc)

You won't learn this on one or two tries; but you should be getting pretty close after a dozen if you pay attention!

I concurr with Jymm: DON'T LEAVE IT ALONE!

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John:

Leaving it is a BAD idea for a number of reasons.

Number one is safety, even with the lid on there's just too much potential for something to go wrong. Losing a load of charcoal isn't even on the scope.

This isn't an enclosed kiln without being there to read the progress you won't get much if anything.

Don't worry though, there's no reason in the world you can't be forging or doing other things while you keep an eye on your retort, it's not like you have to stare at it 100% of the time. Look every couple minutes yes, stare no.

Frosty

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Okay, I'll expierement this weekend and see what I come up with. My mom will be home and my brother will be home as well. He goes to school around 8 or 9 can't remember. But my mom will be home to check on it. But I wasn't planning on leaving it without watching. Mom would be home...ne how

I got about 120lb of wood split, hopefully going to do two burns this weekend.

60lb-50lb of charcoal as a result.

Edited by m_brothers

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Good decision John. :D

For your first few attempts, especially using the semi-direct method you'll be doing well to recover 25-30%. Heck the commercial colliers brag about getting 50% from semi-direct conversion.

Personally I think the better % from indirect is calculated without figuring in the wood used to heat the retort. It's still quite a bit better.

In any case you'll do better if you're on hand to keep an eye on the process. Keep a notebook!

Best of luck.

Frosty

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Thanks Jerry. Ill take notes, and post the first, second, and third rounds in the post I reserved for the reports. :) I'm going to split more wood tomorrow, and I got two 55gl drums from my grandpa. I think I'm gonna do two at a time.

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Remember split the wood so it's no more than 3" in at least one direction so it'll pyrolize efficiently. For instance a 2" x 12" x 20' board is just fine because one dimension is under 3". Thicker and you'll start burning up charcoal as the centers coal, it's the point of diminishing returns.

Keeping it all about the same size is more efficient as well because the smaller wood will burn up while the thicker is coaling.

Have fun, I wish I were there. We could swap BS, roast some tasty campfire nibblets and maybe mash something while we watch the fire.

Frosty

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I'm going to be making my charcoal tomorrow, got two 55gals. But I think they might be a little bigger. Im using one for my coal bin. :) It can easily hold about 400lb, max 500lb. I'm going to take pictures of the process and total results from tomorrow. 120lb. Hopefully gonna get 40-60lb.

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Okay well for some reason, I can't edit my post(GRRRRRR). So the pictures are here. I won;t know until tomorrow morning how much I got back, but I'm thinking in the 40-50lb range. Started with 110lb about. Pictures attached. Glenn or Andrew if you could move the pictures to the second post that'd be great, otherwise, here are the pictures guys.

Picture 1- About 45 minutes before I put the lid on.
Picture 2- 3/5 through the burn.
Picture 3- Fire is finally going real good.
Picture 4- Lighting the fire.
Picture 5- The end result. Approx 47lb.

Weighed the wheel barrow on a scale and the wheel barrow with charcoal. Equals 47lb. Already used some of it, reaches welding heat easily, no fleas. (That's cool!!!) And doesn't burn up that fast. So It's kind of like a hybrid charcoal I think. Lol. In between coke and charcoal.


Many times when posts or images are moved up, or added to an existing earlier post, the flow of the thread is lost, due to new material being added out of sequence.

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Edited by m_brothers

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The coalers in most third world countries make a brick retort big enough that you can walk inside. I also recall seeing them placing the logs vertically. It looks like you lost quite a bit of material before covering it so you may not get more than a few pounds. Of course, it's a good learning experience and you'll only get better with time.

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I covered it when it was about halfway down and just starting to cool. I got a lot of charcoal. The pictures don't justify it. Lol.

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Sorry for the double post, but I wanted to say that I got the resulting charcoal out today after school and did some forge welding. Just messing around, took a 3/8" round bar, and have welded itself back onto itself about 6 times. 32 layers. It's not damascus, but I wire brushed it and you can see the layers, kinda cool. Link to the pictures: http://www.iforgeiron.com/forum/f7/charcoal-making-report-7328/#post69897

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So how much charcoal did you end up with?

Maybe in terms of 5 gallon bucketfulls...?



You started with what, about 110 pounds of wood right?

EDIT: Never mind... I didn't see you added pics to that post above...:rolleyes:

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Yep, about 3 5 gallon buckets if I had to guess. Largest peice was about 3x3 or 2x2, but it was charcoal, and the smallest around 0.5x0.5. I think it went real good. I might do this more often. I will update this post with more information later.

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Sorry, I don't understand yor question Chris. WE cut the tree that I got the wood from about a year and two months ago. NOt compltely dry, but it was pretty dry. Pine wood, btw.

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Three 5 gal buckets of charcoal yielded about 25% by bulk on a single 55 gal barrel (it wasn't level with the top so I fudged the percentage a hair). Of course, that yield is 13% if you started with TWO 55 gal barrels of wood.

I'm in no way knocking your results - just trying to figure out the basic yield. BTW, I've heard pine makes a decent soft charcoal with a lot of carbon so I'm not surprised you can weld with it. Good job and thanks for posting.

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Good job m_brothers. Nice looking charcoal.

You seem to have a pretty good burn going in the barrel. What kind of air feed, if any, did you use?

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Okay, I'm just guessing with the buckets. I weighed it. 47lbs from 110lbs. That's like a 40% yield I think. It was one barrel.


That's pretty good - and you'll only get better with time.

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Thanks HW. JohnW, I used a blow drier at first, otherwise, nothing, I have 2in squares cut at the bottom in a hexagon pattern. As I watched the burn, and the outside of the barrel (it was new so the paint burned off) I could watch the true progress and put sand over the holes that were accelerating to fast. Overall, I think it was good, have a few things to work on though. But I only used a blow drier for the first 30min or so. And a little fan on the other side for the first 30min. You can see the fan in the pix. It's turned off in that picture, but I didn't feel like moving either of them until it was done. Lol.

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