How to Make Charcoal Pencils

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Introduction: How to Make Charcoal Pencils

Don't want to pay for expensive charcoal pencils?
Learn how to make your own with a cheap, easy way.
These pencils in my opinion are as good as the ones you buy.

Step 1: Build a Fire

Now you need to build a fire.
1. Take some tinder and light it,
2. Put small pieces of wood on the lit tinder.
3.Gradually add bigger pieces of wood.
4.Wait for the fire to build up.

Your fire is made =).

Step 2: Wrap and Cook

1. Find some sticks that aren't too thin, they have to be thick enough.

2. Wrap the sticks in aluminium foil.

3. Place wrapped sticks in fire.

4. Wait about 20 minutes then find your wrapped sticks and just observe them...LEAVE IN FIRE.

5. You will notice gasses coming outof the foil..tere will be a lot of smoke coming out of the foil and some flames.

6. Observe the sticks until no more fllames and nearly no smoke is coming out of the foil.

7. Gently and carefully remove the foil from the fire and place on any surface.

8. Wait a couple of minutes for it to cool then remove carefully the "cooked" sticks (charcoal) from the foil.

9. (Optional) wrap the charcoal sticks in paper but leave some of the charcoal sticking out then tape the paper (if you don't want to get your hands all black when using the charcoal)

10. Use and enjoy your virtually free charcoal pencils.

(My pencil just looks like a black block wrapped in kleenek...but it goes really well and sorry for crappy image quality.)

(Have Fun!)

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    68 Comments

    i was told that the best pencils come from grape vines... i guess if you wrap the charcoal with a pice of cloth and epoxy / polyester resin (fiberglass stuff) you can make a fairly hard and decent pencil, sharpenable too, with those big mouthed sharpeners.

    11 replies

    hmm...i didn't know that...it would probably works (i didnt know that the best pencils came frome grape vines)

    I'm not very sure of this too, but my guess is that any decent hardwood will make good pencils, like the stuff you guys have in America, like oak, osage, redwood, mulberry, apple, cherry etc etc etc... :D Hey, try the epoxy/resin thing and tell us if that works!

    hardwood does make the best pencils (maybe apart from grape vines)...i probably wont try the epoxy/resin thing cus...well, 1: i don't know where to fand these and 2: thats pretty much it. 3: its winter (wel...officially its winter on december 21st but theres already a foot of snow here so i say its winter :)) now so i can't go biking long distances to get some.

    Keep it as homework, once the snow melts ;-) However, the epoxy resin you can get even at wal mart (look at tool/paint department) you'll need araldite stuff, like those mix and apply. The polyester resin is sold at paint stores, specially car body work ones and also at marinas, cause many boats are actually made and repaired with it. Looks like you're a handy young man, so I strongly suggest you learn how to work these materials, even with no relation to your pencils, cause you can make lots of things out of epoxy and resin, ok? Take care however, and I don't know about the resin, where you live, but they won't sell it for minors here, cause sadly many smell the stuff as a drug... :-(

    XDDDDD smell that stuff?

    smell it as a drug?! what people will do to get high....thats sad..anyways..i'll keep it in mind and i'll go check into it :)(I'll also check what i can do with epoxy and resin :D) thanks

    You wouldnt believe what these guys do!!! :-( From time to time i see people like amy winehouse in the courts (like yesterday i was appointed attorney to a 15-yr boy who was into marijuana smoking, cocaine traffic plus armed robbery). Poverty is sometimes a cause of this, but what a way of losing his youth, behind the bars.... Damn it, sad but true... :-( What a world!

    damn, where do you live? (just asking the country)

    you need polyester stuff to make and mold things the araldite stuff comes in a syringe dosent it?

    I'm not sure if that is possible, just an hypothesis... like if you use that resin intended for fiberglass, you can make nice stuff just using cloth and 'painting' it with the resin. Once I made a wheel for my sister's travel pack using a pop bottle cap, sand and epoxy (araldite), just mixing the resin with sand and filling the cap... It was about 3 years and the wheel is still spinning...lol My guess for the pencil was wrapping a charcoal pencil with cloth then paint it with the glue (any sort of may work). Do your experiments and show us..

    well i have a ployester resin kit that sets in molds really clear like glass

     do you have any suggestion on how to get darker or lighter charcoal.

    7 replies

    This type of charcoalis what is referred to as "vine" charcoal. Darker charcoalis generally Compressed charcoal. Here's a Wikipedia article on both.

    Basically, to get darker charcoal, you take the vine, grind it up, and compress it with a binder. Not sure what binder you would use for home use, but i'm interested in trying it.

    Great instructable, btw!

    could you use a little clay to bind it?

    ii think this is what they use.

    As far as I know, the "color" of the charcoal depends on two factors: the first, is the type of wood (cedar, mahogany, oak, pine, etc), because of the inherent grade of natural compression the wood has, and the inherent chemical compounds content in the wood (alcohol, proteins, metals, etc), hence the hardness of the wood (just like graphite leads); the second factor is the "cooking time", proportional to the amount of material that has been subject to pyrolysis process.

    I suppose you should do some previous tests to determine which one is darker or lighter.

    Hope my answer helps you.

     if by lighter or darker in color when you stroke then give a different pressure to the pencil but if you mean in general, i think experimenting with different kinds of woods would be best. I have only tried maple and that works great but i haven't tried any other kinds of wood.

     lol I understand how to get a different tone from pressure but im talking about the actual color of the charcoal I'll try different types of wood as well. Thanks for the thorough answer its much appreciated keep up with the awesome Instructables good sir.