homemade lump charcoal

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by show me smoke, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. I have seen it done on you tube...but has anyone made their own charcoal...I am going to try it this weekend and see what happens.  I have a smaller barrel with a lid that I plan in setting into a larger 55 gal barrel .  It will be nice if it works and does not take too much time.  Lump is getting expensive.
  2. handymanstan

    handymanstan Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    I have never done it but have thought about it and looked into it.  Have a brother with apple trees and he looses a tree or two every year.  I would like to see your method and pics of your process.  Do you have the chimney? 

  3. I guess i do not have a chimney..since I do not know what your talking about...my plan is pretty basic..drill holes in the top of the smaller barrels lid,  then build a fire in larger barrel..when it stops outgassing going to plug holes to cut off air..and wait...
  4. I've done it twice with maple wood.  Both times I used the same can packed very tightly. First time I waited until it stopped outgassing before taking it out and plugging the hole. Made very nice lump! Second time I didn't wait quite as long and pulled it off sooner. There was still some very dry almost wood left in the chunks and it was much better! Thin blue smoke with no wood chunks added to my WSM!  I'll continue to do it like that. I wouldn't do that with any wood you wouldn't want to use as a smoke wood though. Just be warned, it takes a long time for the sealed can of charcoal to cool off.  I opened them after 24 hours and they were still very hot inside. If opened too soon, it can flame up.
  5. I make charcoal with an open air gasifier.

  6. good to know on the time before opening the lid...
  7. pgsmoker64

    pgsmoker64 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    When I was a kid we cooked our pulled pork on a fire pit made from cinder blocks and expanded metal - our hot coals came from two 55 gallon barrels, one atop the other, wood burning in the top barrel and we would shovel the coals under the pork when they came through the grate of the top barrel!

    Good times!
  8. handymanstan

    handymanstan Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    I saw this set up and thought it was cool.  http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=37313    I thought this is the way I am going to try to do it.  He just starts it up and lets it burn out and tomorrow harvest coal.

  9. Most methods waste a lot of wood in heating other wood in a chamber.
    I use a method that's rapid and doesn't have a lot of, if any, waste.
    I don't have pictures of the larger set-up, but here are some pics of a charcoal lighting chimney for making biochar.
    In the larger charcoal producing set-up everyhing is bigger, that's the only difference.
    The wood is lit from the top and as it burns down a gasifys, the charcoal remains in the oxygen-depleted gas.
    In the larger charcoal set-up, the process is shut down with a lid when the wood stops gasifying.....with the biochar, I just snuff it out with water.

    An old post of mine on another forum....

    "Yeah, I make biochar in a commonly available charcoal starting chimney.....
    $6-$10 Charcoal Starting chimney with the addition of a piece of hardware cloth on the bottom to contain small pieces of charcoal.
    Pieces of wood should be of roughly the same thickness for even burning.

    Fire is started at the top with newspaper and a bit of used cooking oil so the fire spreads across the top of the wood evenly.

    Fire started.

    Beginning to gasify.


    When the fire dies down, douse with water to complete the process. The charcoal is now done.

    It's by far the easiest way to make 'char.

    Because the combustion zone and greater part of the heat is above the material, you're assured low-temperature 'char.

    I'd also argue that it's just as efficient as the indirect method if you consider the total amount of material used in both methods. Especially if you're mindful of technique. I've found that you get a more even, complete, faster and much more efficient 'burn' if the material is stood up vertical and is of roughly the same diameter."

    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  10. o well I do have that kind of chimney...interesting...
  11. The method is fast, but be careful, the bigger set-up shoots some pretty tall flames!!!! LOL
    Take all appropriate precautions and attempt only at your own risk.

  12. scootermagoo

    scootermagoo Smoking Fanatic


    Holy Cripes!!  It looks like it's in full afterburner!

    This is blowing my mind.  How does the wood even burn when that tighty packed?  I have one of these chimneys, I might give it a try just because I want to see that afterburner, gas jet, steel cutting flame shootin' out.
  13. This guy makes a lot of charcoal and looks like a simple method.I'm going to try it as soon as I find some barrels .

    3 parts to the video,this is part 1.the other two should be to the right.

  14. That's the method I use, except I don't bother with the second chamber.
    Funny, there was nothing about the method on the internet until I first posted about it 7-8 years ago.
    I like to keep the pieces of wood all close to the same size.

    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  15. So I had my first attempt to make charcoal this last weekend....The two barrel method did not work...though I think I did not have enough ventilation holes in the bottom of the 55 gal barrel.  So I just built a fire and put my small barrel into it..Well that worked. in fact it worked so well I loaded up the 55 gal barrel full of oak and built a fire around it...that did not work.. I never got the reaction that should have occurred even after 3 hrs in really hot fire..I think there was too much volume of wood inside to heat up.  Did not have time to let cool down to see how it came out, but pretty sure it all did not char...can tell it will be a learning experience.
  16. I fired up the charcoal I made over the weekend...it was OUTSTANDING   quick to light...has great hardwood smoke flavor...and burned really well...I used it in my uts...I must make more and get it down to a science.  I used Schumar oak as the raw wood.
  17.  Lighting up the charcoal I made over the weekend..
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2013
  18. fixnwrecks

    fixnwrecks Newbie

    Hi Ya'll

    Here is my homemade charcoal Propane burner setup. I use a 50 gallon drum and in the bottom of it I have a turkey fryer burner that I cut the legs off of. The burner sets in the 50 gallon drum then I place a 30 gallon drum on the burner. Cap it with a 50 gallon drum lid with a vent hole to allow the gasses to escape and light up the turkey fryer burner. This process takes about 3 hours and cost about $10.00 in propane. At completion I have a 30 gallon drum of perfect charcoal. Here are some pics so you can see how it is set up. Check out the last photo that shows the completed charcoal, ready to use on the grille or in my egg....


    Wood is starting to gas off after only 15 minutes on the burner

    The best thing about using a propane turkey fryer burner is that I can regulate the temperature inside the wood drum. I have found that Hickory wood best converts into charcoal at 500 - 525 degrees and the propane setup allows me to raise / lower the internal temperature as needed.

    After 2 hours the pyrolysis process has started and the gasses are burning off. I let it burn for about an hour and then shut down the burner, cap the pipe vent on the wood container drum and let it cool for 24 hours

    24 hours later and here is the final product ready to be used. So it takes time, but what the heck - my time cost nothing, and it keeps me entertained and out of trouble. All I use is free hickory wood, ten bucks of propane, and I get the best darn charcoal I have ever used. And just think, If I went and paid for this charcoal it would only cost me about 16 -20 dollars. But there aint no fun in buying it when I can make it myself !!!!!

  19. Nice, I am going to make  a batch this weekend I have used all of what i made last time..It burns so much better than the blue bag charcoal.
  20. jjpiv33

    jjpiv33 Fire Starter

    I'm loving the drum and propane thing...

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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