Making your own charcoal
- Using a cold chisel prepare the drum by making five 50mm (2in) holes in one end and completely removing the other. Knock-up the cut edge of the open end to form a ledge (Note, the lid will have to placed back on this ledge and made airtight).
- Position the drum, open end upwards, on three bricks to allow an air flow to the holes in the base.
- Place paper, kindling and brown ends (incompletely charred butts from the last burn) into the bottom of the drum and light.
- Once it is burning well, load branchwood at random to allow air spaces until the drum is completely full. Keep the pieces to a fairly even diameter but put any larger ones to the bottom where they will be subjected to a longer burning.
- When the fire is hot and will clearly not go out, restrict the air access around the base by using earth placed against it, but leaving one 100mm (4in) gap. Also place the lid on top, leaving a _small_ gap at one side for smoke to exit.
- Dense white smoke will issue during the charring process. When this visibly slows, bang the drum to settle the wood down, creating more white smoke.
- When the smoke turns from white (mainly water being driven off) to thin blue (charcoal starting to burn) stop the burn by firstly closing off all air access to the base using more earth, and secondly by placing the lid firmly on its ledge, and making it airtight by the addition of of sods and soil as required. The burn will take between three and four hours.
- After cooling for about 24 hours, the drum can be tipped over and the charcoal emptied out onto a sheet for grading and packing.