Charcoal size?

Im planing on making my own charcoal .. all im waiting for is for the snow to go away from the stop ive been promised to be on and that i can drag my lazy ass out and drag the wood that ive been promised out of the forest also :P

Now to the real question ... ive read that the size of the charcoal should be no larger then a marible (i think thats the name .. those round little balls used for example china-chess), if this is true i will have to build myself something that can break the charcoal bits down to that size.. they will be about 2 - 3 inch thick after the charing process so i think thats a bit bit and sitting here breaking up 1000 - 2000 liter charcoal (first try so im starting low ;P) with my bare hands/a knife or something i dont realy even want to think about ;P

So what size should the charcoal pieces be? :>

And yes im a newbie and no i cant get hold of coal :/

Reply to
Tomas Wilhelmsson
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Breaking up charcoal is time consuming but rather easy compared to say breaking up industrial coke. Japanese toolmakers use charcoal almost exclusively. They use a short, rather heavy, chopping tool for reducing the size to about that of a walnut. "Marble size" sounds a bit small to me. The tool is made of one piece of steel the blade is about 6" long plus about 4-5" of handle. The blade is about 1-1/2" wide and about 1/2" thick at the top and flat ground to the cutting edge like a wedge. The cutting edge is pretty much straight, maybe a very slight curve (rocker) Since what you are chopping is so soft I think mild steel would work just fine. Anyway, they work with this tool on a wood stump so you don't dull the tool. It's slow going but effortless and relaxing. DO it in front of the T.V. eh? The wife will love that!

Have at it, Glen G.

P.S. The Japanese prefer soft wood charcoal over hardwoods

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I have a friend who uses charcoal exclusively and I use it sometimes. We use pretty much as it comes from the bag; pieces anywhere from 1 inch cubed to about 2" X 3" X 1" or so. We just break up any bigger stuff when adding to the fire.

Pete Stanaitis


Tomas Wilhelmss> Im planing on making my own charcoal .. all im waiting for is for the snow

Reply to
Pete & sheri

Hi all,

I just started making charcoal in oil drums. I had made a kiln cut into a sloping bank, covered with corrugated iron and wattle and daub, and a frame to hold the drum. When I came to use it I found that the birds were nesting in it. I could not get drums with lids so I cut one drum about 1/3rd way up on a convex ridge and cut the top off a second drum. I bashed a couple of grooves/dents in the mouth of the main drum to let the gas out and make the lid fit. I have blackthorn / hawthorn hedges around the fields and have to prune a section each year. Stuff between 1and1/2 inches down to about 1/2 inch I find cooks well. Thinner stuff is used as the fuel and thicker stuff will only carbonise to a limited extent so that gets used for logs or handles etc. I also use scrap wood for fuel eg old pallets that have rotted too far to be reused for the horse's muckheap. (Yes I'm the type that uses everything for as many uses as possible till it is only fit for burning) I only cut the wood into lengths that will fit into the drum - using the philosophy that it will be easier to cut once it is charcoal. Most of it easily breaks into 1 or 2 inch sticks which I find works fine in the forge (and does it light easily (possibly 'cos it is fresh) just light thin stiff with a cigarette lighter and put the blower on).

I support the drum on a metal frame (well actually it is the chassis from an old washing machine) just to raise it about 4 to 6 inches off the ground to get fire underneath it. I use odd bits of 1/2 inch square stock hammered into the ground to hold it all in place and stop the lid/body separating. Then I set fire to the fuel and keep out the way for a while - reasoning that if it is going to explode, it will do so at an early stage while there is still air in there. Once it gets going you get scary flames coming out of the dents in the join (did I say you only put these so they will be on the underside) which helps cook the contents.

I do the burn at night to minimise the annoyance to the neighbours from smoke (and it looks better in the dark!)

When it is cooked enough - no more scary flames - I shovel ashes /soil underneath where the dents are and leave it till the next afternoon before opening. So far I have not found any ash inside the drum which would indicate that air has got to the charcoal whilst it is still hot.

The sites that I drew my inspiration from suggest not packing the wood tight. I stuff as much in as I can and have had no problems - gas will find its own way out but I should stress that the dents need to be V shaped with about an inch gap between the body and the lid. Most garages have empty anti-freeze / oil drums that are clad to get rid of. Cutting the drums only took a short time and a couple of angle grinder cut-off blades. Try it it's is fun, either save the charcoal for welding or mix it with coal, it really cuts down on the clinker. I previously used anthracite nuts, not as sulphury as coke, the coal merchant stocks them for boilers but also popular with model steam train enthusiasts.

Well that was more rant than I intended - thanks to the folks who put the charcoal drum method onto the web and inspired me but just like to let folk know that a drum on a bonfire works just as well.

Happy hammering


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