Make Your Own Charcoal

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Introduction: Make Your Own Charcoal


bqqing is always nice and nicer when you dont have to spend to get charcoal
and this is my way of having the fun of childish fire starting plus getting charcoal to grill on later

Step 1: What You Will Need


what you will need :

*wood
*a sealable bqq or other thing (mine is made of cast iron and isnt so big)
*something to seal it with (is use a container with water in it and some potting soil)
*something to light it with

Step 2: Get Burning

for almost every guy there was that fase when you just loved setting things on fire and most of us still wil enjoy a nice fire to relax by

if you want alot of charcoal at the end then get it nice and full
i know the total ratio of burned wood to charcoal isnt that good but 90% of what i cover up turns to nice good charcoal and thats fine for me

Step 3: Sealing It

to seal it simply make sure no oxygen can get to it or it will keep burning and the ratio will be even less plus it will take alot longer before it to cool down

i use a container with water (water is there for some heat exchange 'cause charcoal does burn at 2700 degrees C)
and some damp potting soil to seal whatever crack the smoke that will be coming out (if the smoke comes out at some places it isnt so bad in my case it only comes out and no air comes in through the same places)

Step 4: Lets Play the Waiting Game

so the thing is sealed and no air can get in , now it needs to cool down completely
if you open it up before it its cool to the touch on the outside it can and mostlikely will start burning again

the time it takes to cool completely depends on how much is in there , the fullest that i have had mine till now took more than 8 hours to cool down

so in the time till its cool you can go do something else like write an instructable

Step 5: Done !!

now that the entire thing is cooled down and you have opened it up you now have to get your charcoal out and sort it to see if there is unburned wood in it and keep that aside for the next time


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    38 Comments

    So basically you can get the same result by putting a sealed can of wood in the oven and set it on self-cleaning, right? :-)

    6 replies

    NO, NO, NO.  The process of heating any combustible material to ignition temperature WITOUT the presense of OXYGEN[AIR] is called Pyrolisis, and THOSE GASSES BEING DRIVEN OUT OF THE WOOD [or any combustible material] WHEN REACHING and mixing with AIR become  EXPLOSIVE, AND VERY TOXIC!!!!!

    You can consider those gasses coming out of that hole in the can the SAME as turning on a NATURAL GAS VALVE and not igniting it.

    IF and once that gas envelope mixes with the air in your kitchen, AND WHEN that Oxygenated gas reaches a SOURCE OF IGNITION [like a pilot light, a spark of any kind as in turning a light switch on or off, or a relay in a refrigherator snaping, or any countertop appliance turned on, running, or off] then that spark could [probably will] ignite the "cloud" of explosive gas, AND you will have a major explosion in your kitchen, and probably a resulting fire.

    Even if this should not occur, the toxic gasses will be harmful, AND could BE FATAL [KILL YOU!].

    Do NOT attempt to make charcoal indoors.  Do it OUTSIDE, or under something like a carport which is open on at least 3 sides.

    Good thing I read this comment. I was visiting this article to see if making charcoal in an oven was possible.

    Actually the gases can be trapped and used to run gasoline engines as was done during WW2 due to shortages, look up "wood gas" kinda cool actually. Seems to me a great reason to do it outside.

    Ok, this can be done inside. I have done so. But what he is trying to convey, is the gases driven off are flammible. But I would be more worried about filling the kitchen with smoke. I have done this successfully in a sealed tin with a hole in the lid placed into my wood stove and left until no more flames are exiting the hole. I would then take it outside and seal the hole until it cooled off. Because I was doing it in a properly ventilated stove, (Had a working chimney) There wasn't any larger risk than burning wood normally would.

    (Please note the wood stove has to have a fire in it for this to work)

    Yes... I believe the gas being produced is going to be primarily methane, if I remember my middle school science class correctly.

    or as we know it in the outside world when making charcoal : woodgas

    Good info!

    Do you use any firewood, or it have to be hard? Here there are a lot of soft wood from pruning. We are in winter.

    12 replies

    i just use all kinds of wood we have around but ironsmiter does have a good point about the resin , woods with alot of resin do make very bad charcoal , as long as the wood you use is dry you can make charcoal from it

    The Japanese use pine charcoal for centuries to not only smelt iron but to forge some of the finest swords in history.

    Thanks. Perhaps softwood produces a shorter-lasting charcoal.

    edit : and its summer over here so most wood here is already dry

    hard wood charcoal works BEST.

    But soft woods can be used.
    Especially fruit woods.

    Try to avoid pine though. there's a LOT of resin in pine, and to make good charcoal, well, it doesn't work REAL well.


    If you plan on doing a LOT of charcoal making, consider stepping it up to something like this
    https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-some-Charcoal/

    You're confusing "softwoods" with "soft wood". Fruit trees (apples, pears, cherries, peaches, etc.) are "hardwoods". I know it's confusing...

    Yes, I was convinced that "softwood" and "soft wood" was the same thing. I speak Spanish, no English.

    Thanks for the clarification!

    Actually, I WAS trying to get across the idea of soft vs hard wood. not softwood vs hardwood.
    To be clearer, i SHOULD have said DENSE wood versus LESS DENSE woods.

    rjogden, I agree, SOME fruit woods work well for charcoal.
    Others, however, are of the less dense variety, and do NOT work well. :-(
    Pear, Apple, young Cherry and Hazel are all species that make less than satisfactory charcoal for use in forges.
    If you're making it for your barbecue... go ahead and use any wood you like :-)
    they will all produce enough heat to grill your meat.

    "The Definitions of Hardwood and Softwood

    All hardwood trees are angiosperms. This means that they produce seeds which have a protective covering such as fruit or a seed with a shell. Softwoods are determined by their seeds also.

    Trees which are softwood are called gymnosperms and they are determined as having seeds which do not have any sort of protective covering whatsoever. Most people believe that a hardwood will be more dense than a softwood and, although this is often the case, it is not always a true statement. For instance, there is a wood known as balsa wood which is one of the lightest woods around. It is highly pliable and is one of the lowest density woods available, but, it is still considered to be a hardwood because it comes from an angiosperm tree. "


    Mostly I use charcoal for making black powder. The lighter, less dense and low-ash woods have the potential to make the fastest-burning powder. "Softwoods" like pines are high in high-molecular-weight resins that volatilize more slowly; they are mostly used for their spark effects. To a great extent the properties of the resulting powder are the result of the actual charcoal-making process, temperature and length of time in the kiln being foremost in importance. Excessive temperatures or over-cooking causes formation of graphite, which burns more slowly. Under-cooking results in remnants of wood which also slow the burn rate. We also try to exclude all air, because allowing the carbon source to oxidize increases the final relative ash content of the resulting charcoal.

    I guess the bottom line is that you must select the wood and adjust the process to fit your intended use.

    When I was a kid and did experiments with fireworks, I could see the huge difference between using hardwood charcoal and charcoal from pine. The first burned slowly, the second producing a flash.

    So the English also has "boobytraps" as Spanish!