One of my friends who tried to get into blacksmithing and had an old
charcoal forge needed some charcoal. We found someone who made it locally,
but it was quite expensive. We then read online about how you can make it in
a barrel and cook the wood into charcoal. I am wondering if anyone on here
does this, and or has any tips or suggestions (even a link to a site that's
little known) to help get me started on making it again.
I considered making it myself, but thought that it was a royal pain to
do (the way I wanted to do it anyway).
If you need charcoal, just go to the local Charcoal Chicken and ask them
to order you in some bags with their next order, and buy some chicken
while you're at it ;-)
HyperCube33 (Life2Death) wrote:
I wonder how many of us would be able to understand each other in
person. :) That made perfect sense spelled out but that along with
accent, prob'ly wouldn't have got it the first time. ;)
Alvin bor-run in AZ
We make it in barrels. Not much of a problem at all. Takes longer to
tell about it than to do it:
-Get 55 gallon drum that has a tight fitting cover.
- Make 4 1 1/2" diameter holes in the sides, just above the bottom.
- Make plugs that can be put in the holes.
-Get wood scraps from building or from the woods. No pieces much bigger
than about 2 X 2 X 6 inches long. Can be hardwood or softwood.
Experts may bug you about which kind you are using, but don't worry
about it for now. It'll all work.
-Build a fire in the bottom of the barrel (Holes unplugged)
-Once a fire is going in the bottom, gently fill the barrel full with
wood scraps. By this I mean to toss in an armload at al time. Don't
just pour it full all at once.
-Let it burn for about 20 minutes or until barrel is burned down to
about 1/2 full or so. I think you can add more wood at this time and
wait a few minutes before proceeding, but don't do that for your first
few batches. This timing will take a little tuning, see below, "Checking
-Plug the holes and put the top on.
-Wait until for sure the fire is all out and the whole thing gets cool
Checking the product:
- Open barrel and remove charcoal.
-If there is much gray ash in the bottom, you let it burn too long
before covering or the barrel wasn't sealed well enough.
-Break up some of the pieces. If there is still enough wood fiber
inside the pieces so you can't break them, you could have cooked it a
few minutes longer.
-Sort out those pieces that didn't burn far enough, put them into the
-You get a lot of smoke at times. Don't do this in an upscale neighborhood.
-The barrel gets real hot. Don't let any kids or grown-ups who depend
upon the government to protect them anywhere close.
- You may get 25 to 40 pounds per batch. Charcoal burns up pretty fast
in a blacksmiths forge and needs replenishing often.
There you have it.
I just made this up. Was I even close to the link you found?
How does your friend know that the forge is "charcoal forge"?
HyperCube33 (Life2Death) wrote:
I like the refinement from twin oaks (a link I've posted here before -
thus, google groups will have it if you can't find it by googling
directly) of connecting a pipe to the barrel to run the flammable gasses
that are cooked off down under the barrel to help cook it. IIRC they
just fill the barrel and seal it up, then start a small fire under it
until it starts cooking itself. Does require more rigging (pipe, holding
barrel up so fire can be under it, etc.) but also yields more charcoal
for a given amount of wood to start with - the stuff in the barrel never
gets to burning, so it all converts to charcoal; it (pretty much) all
finishes since it will cook itself until done. Thus, less mental energy
spent on how long to let it burn before sealing it up.
I liked the quote at the end "it's time consuming but it's fun".
I'd prefer to watch tv than watch wood smoke... however we'd get busted
if we did this in the back yard.
Jim Downey wrote:
Another good search would be "wood gas" there are stoves deisgned to burn
off the gasses wood releases while being burned. It's been used to run
generators, autos, etc. Charcoal is a by product of the gassification of
wood...I think. :) Either way, you end up with a lot of little pieces of
charcoal probably similar to what the japanese traditionaly used for heat
No, There should be no combustibles left at all. The woodgas in a
combination of carbon monoxide and hydrogen with traces of methane and a
lot of nitrogen.
Burned properly, ALL of the carbon goes to CO. Any dissociated
water vapor supplies the hydrogen. The extra oxygen in that
dissociated water vapor goes looking for more carbon to produce
addtional CO. The pure carbon doesn't stand a chance of making it to
the ash pit.
What you are probably thinking about is the process of cooking off
volatile gases when making charcoal. Here, you don't want any oxygen in
the retort if you can help it. Volatile gases start to occur at about
350 degrees C and push their way out of the container. Any of the
volatile gases in that mix that are combustible can be burned off
outside of the container.
Charcoal is a by product of the gassification of
There is a guy involved with making stoves for third world type projects.
He had a lot of links to gassifing(sp) stoves on his site. Woodgas in
google should get you there.
Anyway, the info stated that after the gasses are burned off you are left
with charcoal. Thats all I know about it. :)
Fill a 55 gallon barrel with hardwood scraps.
Punch a coupl'a holes in it (to let the pressure off)
Build a bigger fire round it, and come back when the fire is out.
You should get about 50% charcoal in the barrel. Take out the charcoal,
top up with hardwood again.
repeat as neccessary.
a 2 gallon bucket with a sealed lid might be easier if you're in a
semi-urban area (smaller fire, more concentrated heat, so you get about
Propane is much easier and convenient.