Charcoal burning: anyone done it?



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Elleth
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Charcoal burning: anyone done it?

Postby Elleth » Fri Nov 29, 2019 9:40 pm

Particularly, the art of making charcoal from wood - basically the same thing we do with our little charring tins, but on a bonfire scale.
I've read about it of course, and looked at videos as well: Tales from the Green Valley has a wonderful presentation of the process.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=964WDzOyrks

... but I've got a few more questions for someone who's actually done it.
Anyone been there, or know anyone who has?

Thanks!
Persona: Aerlinneth, Dúnedain of Amon Lendel c. TA 3010.
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TaylorSteiner
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Re: Charcoal burning: anyone done it?

Postby TaylorSteiner » Sat Nov 30, 2019 2:26 am

Fascinating!
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SierraStrider
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Re: Charcoal burning: anyone done it?

Postby SierraStrider » Sat Nov 30, 2019 10:38 pm

I've done a bit, but plan to do a BUNCH coming up now that the first rains have fallen here in CA.

Here's an interesting video. It doesn't necessarily show much different than the video you already posted, but it's a good resource. For those not familiar with this youtube channel, turning on subtitles gives information on what he's doing.

Cody's Lab also did a video recently where he showed that simply burning wood in a shallow, conical pit until there's no more flame and then dousing it is surrprisingly efficient and effective. He was coming at it more from a biochar fertilizer/filter perspective than a fuel perspective, though.
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Elleth
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Re: Charcoal burning: anyone done it?

Postby Elleth » Sun Dec 01, 2019 2:13 am

VERY COOL - thank you for that other link!

.... you mention rain. If rain comes while the burn is underway, does that affect things? Or since its all sealed up anyhow, does it not matter?
Is there any rule of thumb for how long a burn takes - and how long does a mound after the fire's done for that much mass to come back down to a temperature you can open it?

Thank you!
Persona: Aerlinneth, Dúnedain of Amon Lendel c. TA 3010.
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SierraStrider
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Re: Charcoal burning: anyone done it?

Postby SierraStrider » Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:37 am

I don't think there are any real rules of thumb on "X minutes per pound" or anything like that; it would be so dependent on surface area of the sticks, total volume of the pile, etc.

That said, the pile should give pretty good indications; if you use the Primitive Technology method, you wait until it's burned downward, so that the fire reaches the bottom vents. As the fire reaches each vent, plug that vent with mud.

Once all the vents are plugged, cap the top vent. Leave it sealed until the mound is cool--again, no idea what timeframe that would be.

I don't know about making charcoal in the rain, but I wouldn't have tried it before the rain had started here, simply for fear of errant sparks setting the entire state on fire. Last week our neighbor's pasture caught and if the wind had been blowing differently our house might've burned. It's red alert here until the winter rains come.
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Peter Remling
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Re: Charcoal burning: anyone done it?

Postby Peter Remling » Sun Dec 01, 2019 1:04 pm

Both videos were excellent

Judging by the burn time and then the time to cool, I'd estimate at least a week before you can open it up and remove the charcoal. I'd probably err on the side of 2 weeks just to make sure there are no live coals, otherwise it will relight and you'll loose everything you worked for.

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