looking for charcoal kiln tips

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Miles
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looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Miles » December 11th, 2016, 9:50 am

Good morning, 'haven't been here in a while so with the changed index it took some searching to find the charcoal section.
I have a large and small drum burned out ready to go and am anxious to start making charcoal but have a few questions for those that have done this.
After loading the small drum with wood do you fasten the lid, or leave it open for a while? If open when do you close it?
After the fire gets going in the large drum do you fasten the lid on that or leave it open? Seems to me one would get more heat with it open but is that just a waste of fuel? Or fasten the lid and open the two bungs?
I have 5 1/2" holes drilled in the bottom of the small drum and a lid I can latch on. The large drum was made with a removable lid and has a ring that is bolted on to seal the lid. I could cut a hole in the large lid and fabricate a closeable chimney if that would be an advantage.
Any tips or advice is appreciated.
Al


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Squiggle » December 12th, 2016, 5:40 am

You need to close the small drum, how you do it is the $64,000 question. Raise the small drum off the bottom of the big drum & put the lid on that one too(you will need a stack out the top of the lid of the big drum to let the heat & burnt gasses out). The theory is that you want to surround the small drum on all sides with heat & not allow oxygen in to let the wood burn(hence the holes in the bottom) this way you will burn all the gasses & moisture out of the target wood without it actually burning. :kewl:


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by ajfoxy » December 12th, 2016, 7:34 pm

If you want to do it "differently" :-)... Here is a pic of how it is done. It is modelled on the Rocket Stove priciple. So ultra efficient.

A bit convoluted and a fair amount of work, but it is a really good design.

Alternatively you can purchase plans for a Hookway retort online. http://hookwayretort.co.uk/about-us-2/
amended.pdf
But if you want to go down the cheap and easy route. Put holes in your inner tin lid and fill with wood. Put the lid on securely and put upside down in your larger barrel with stops so the smaller barrel is above the fire (upside down with the holes in the lid facing down). You might need to put a hole in the top lid of the larger barrel for smoke to exit. The priciple is the fire heats up the smaller barrel with the wood in it. The wood gets hot but without enough air to ignite. So it kind of steams the sap etc out and that needs to escape (hence the holes in the bottom). As this sap is flammable it adds to the heat. After several hours and no more flammable sap steam coming out of the smaller barrel you can wait for it to cool and then disassemble and open the smaller barrel. Don't do it too soon as if it is still hot and you add air it is only going to ignite.

Hope this is of some help.
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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Miles » January 2nd, 2017, 10:40 am

The day after I asked for help winter came and I've been on the snowplow since. It rained on newyears eve and washed most of the snow away, so I set up my drums to cook some wood.
The inner drum was too tall so I couldn't build the fire in the bottom of the large drum. I set up some blocks to hold the fire. I made a rack to hold the drums out of som 3/8 X 1" scrape steel.
I put some handles on the smaller drum and cut a lid from an old highway sign, I didn't steal it off the post, Honest.
Three spring fasteners hold the lid on. I hope it doesn't warp when it gets hot, if so I will use a piece of 1/4" plate.
I cut some dried Alder into smaller 3"-4" chunks and filled the drum then I cut the bottom off the large drum and placed it over the smaller one. Once it gets light outside I will start the fire and see how it goes. Once the fire gets things hot I will put some more blocks around one opening to keep more heat in. It's 10 degrees below freezing with a wind warning so things may not go as planned but todays the only chance I will have to do this for quite a while and I'm too impatient to wait.
Will update the results.
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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Miles » January 3rd, 2017, 12:51 pm

I started the fire and blocked off one opening in the blocks once things warmed up. The ground temp was 17 deg F. after an hour and a half the outside of the large drum was only 100 deg. I filled the fire pit with fir and got a roaring fire going, the wind was gusting 35 to 60 knots so there was smoke everywhere. At the four hour mark there was flame shooting out of the fire pit and the drum was 600 to 700 degrees on the leeward side of the drum, windward side was 200-250 bottom to top. After the fire burned down some I was able to get close enough to take a photograph of the gas burn-off. I kept the fire going until the eight hour mark then went in to thaw.

Went out at daylight to check the results, we have charcoal. The volume in the drum reduced by about a third and the size of the charcoal pieces were also about two thirds the size of the wood chunks. The charcoal is also quite brittle, I kept the fire going for quite a while after the gas-off stopped, maybe I should have just let it burn out after gass-off?

I started another batch today, I wanted to use larger pieces but the alder is already cut. I will try a smaller fire and let it burn out after she gasses-off.

I used one wheelbarrow load of alder for the charcoal and two wheelbarrow loads of fir for the fuel. Cost me nothing for the wood so my only output is some mig wire and some time. The power was out most of yesterday and it was too cold to do much else so hanging around the backyard making smoke and having a couple of beer then cooking up a standing rib roast wasn't a bad use of the day.
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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Squiggle » January 3rd, 2017, 3:57 pm

Awesome stuff dude, well done! :kewl:


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Big T » January 3rd, 2017, 9:03 pm

:beer: Let us know how well it burns when you get an opportunity to use it. :beer:


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by mp4 » January 3rd, 2017, 9:17 pm

Nice - this is on my list of things to try someday.



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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Rodcrafter » January 3rd, 2017, 10:21 pm

Me too


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by ajfoxy » January 4th, 2017, 2:14 am

Very nice. Well done.

Also something I'll be delving into at some future date.


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Miles » January 4th, 2017, 9:24 pm

Yesterday I tried a smaller fire and between doing my year end sales taxes [yuck] added wood every hour or so. After 4 hours of cooking the can there wasn't much going on that I could observe. I split up some cedar and threw it in just to get some high flame going. HOLY BLAST FURNACE!!! The gasses shooting out of the bottom of the drum ignited and really heated things up. It sounded like a bunch of tiger torches going. Kind of reminded me of heating up a frozen D-9 cat stuck in frozen muskeg with a Herman Nelson, but that's another story. The gas was shooting out of the bottom of the smaller drum with such pressure I thought it was going to launch. My wife, expecting NORAD interceptors to show up, went inside. The flames were blowing out of the fire box three feet. Of course I got a couple of beers and enjoyed the show. I let the fire burn out after the gas-off. When I opened the drum today I expected all the alder to be burned away but I got another batch of charcoal. It wasn't quite as brittle as the first batch and a bit heavier. All in all a good result. I think.

As Big T asks I will tell you how it burns when the time comes, that will be when I find out if it was worth the effort.
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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Tom_Heath » January 4th, 2017, 9:43 pm

Wow


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Rodcrafter » January 5th, 2017, 6:00 pm

LOL, you are a little crazy I believe.


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by mp4 » January 6th, 2017, 8:45 am

I love the road sign!



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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Miles » January 6th, 2017, 9:37 pm

Crazy? Well they do call me 'Mad Man".
I'll compare the home made stuff with some store bought. If it burns close it will be worth the trouble, if not??? It was fun watching the drum in 'launch mode'
As far as the road sign, was that over the top? I'm sure most drivers will still know what the sign stands for. After all with the price of steel......


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Rodcrafter » January 7th, 2017, 11:26 am

Yep I thought so


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Squiggle » January 11th, 2017, 7:15 am

That's too cool dude & I have to agree with RC, you've got to be a little crazy, I should know cause my missus says I am all the time, lol. =))


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Miles » January 15th, 2017, 8:13 am

A week yesterday was wild card weekend and what better way to watch football than enjoy some hot chicken pieces?
I filled a chimney with my home made charcoal and started it up. It lit quite quickly, almost like a chimney of kindling.
I put the lit charcoal in a Weber kettle and burned off the grill. The charcoal was quite hot and seemed to be burning rather rapidly, I was starting to think it would burn itself out before I grilled the chicken. I seared the hot spiced chicken then moved it over for indirect cooking and closed the vents down to a sliver. An hour or so later we had some great hot chicken pieces for the game.

My observations on the first trial were the lump started faster than briquettes and burned faster than briquettes. I closed the vents completely after I cooked the chicken and there was some usable charcoal left the next day, but not as much as there would be if I used briquettes. I think there is more energy stored in the briquettes than my homemade lump and the briquettes burn longer. But a chimney of lump is a lot lighter than Kingsford, if I went pound per pound it may be a different story. I never use lump so I can't make a comparison untill I get a bag of store bought for test purposes. But the lump worked well and has a nice flavour to it, so far I'm happy with the results.

Now if I could dig out that five foot dia. culvert that goes under the road about 200 yards from that road sign, then get into the National Park and cut a couple of tuck loads of fir logs I could up the production. No, my wife wouldn't go for it.

I wonder if they have a grill or smoker at the local police station, it seems they lifted a few finger prints off that sign.


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Big T » January 15th, 2017, 9:13 pm

That's awesome, there's no better feeling than something working out just like you planned it! :beer:


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by temurf » January 15th, 2017, 9:28 pm

Miles wrote:
I wonder if they have a grill or smoker at the local police station, it seems they lifted a few finger prints off that sign.
Some people have no sense of humor.


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Squiggle » January 17th, 2017, 4:25 am

Nice work dude, well done. :kewl:


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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by pr0wlunwoof » April 3rd, 2017, 11:53 am

Great post. Did you ever get any lump charcoal from the store to do a comparison?



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Re: looking for charcoal kiln tips

Post by Miles » July 4th, 2017, 7:09 am

Been a while,
Never did buy any lump to compare.
Used the homemade stuff in the reverse flow, worked OK but burned twice as much as I would if it was Kingsford. Although I made one batch with wild cherry I didn't get a chance to make much more this winter and now we have a complete burning ban on the island. I will continue to use it until it's gone and stockpile some more next winter. Just cost me some time.
Would still like to use just wood but have not found any real hardwood yet.


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