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Making Homemade Lump Charcoal - Pic Heavy.
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Dead Beaver Ranch
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21 10 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

polock - I would think the 8" flu would work you may have to make some adjustment to restrict it if you are getting too much draft. You do need the hole at the base of the flu as this provides the oxygen for the secondary burn which takes place in the flu, this adds to the draft and burns off the majority of the smoke so you get a clean burn. You may want to use your hole in the lid as you restricter and make it 4 to 4.5 inches and then adjust the length of the flu as needed. Longer flu provides more draft, shorter flu less draft. Let us know how your first burn goes...... Remember, DRY wood or you get to do it twice.

DBR[/b]
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polock
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21 10 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

from your pics that looks like an 8" reducer going down to a 6" pipe, are you sure thats 4"??
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Dead Beaver Ranch
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21 10 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

polock - Actually, now that you mention it. That is 8" down to 6". Good catch. I need to fix that.
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Dead Beaver Ranch
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21 10 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

polock - Also, I used the 6" pipe to trace my lid hole, which means it is closer to 5.5" in diameter. I fixed this in my original post. I'm glad you didn't go hunting 4" pipe. Embarassed Embarassed I guess that's what happens when I stay up all hours of the night puting together a post. Rolling Eyes Laughing

DBR
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Harry Nutczak
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21 10 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

daddywoofdawg wrote:
Two questions:
1:I know it works I can see that but how does the wood in the 30 burn if no flame is getting there?
2:couldn't you use a 20-30G barrel with a lid instead of the flipping over process?


The beav laid out a great description of the process. But I feel he missed a few important things.

He has described the "retort Process" of charcoal making, where you are not letting the wood ignite, You are just heating it to critical mass and all the organics vaporize and only leave the pure carbon structure of the wood behind.

This method creates a much higher quality of charcoal then the "light it and smother it" method used for hundreds of years.
The "Burn and Smother" method actually creates what is known as "Activated Charcoal" it is great for purifying things (such as water, and of course Jack Daniels Whiskey) but is of lesser quality for use as a heating fuel.

As the Beav explained, when the organic materials out-gas, the fire in the retort ignites those vapors and the chemical reaction occurring inside the small drum helps fuel the heating process. if you were to vent those gasses outwards instead of burning them in the retort, you would require quite a bit more fuelwood than the amount of charcoal you would hope to produce and realize diminishing returns.

One of the retort designs I considered had the outgassing burn off under a barrel which was horizontal, and housed in a fire-brick kiln. You would still use a sealed barrel which is placed on a stand above the ground, and you have a pipe coming from the lid, and routed under the barrel it came from, a wood fire is lit under that sealed drum to start the vaporization of the wood, and the outgassing lights off and finishes the burn strictly from the gas being produced. It is damn near alchemy the way it works. Take a look at this site
http://www.twinoaksforge.com/BLADSMITHING/MAKING%20CHARCOAL.htm
it explains the process and has pictures to show what reaction is actually happening and how the outgassing from the wood is able to self-sustain the fire needed to cook itself.

Believe it or not, when you make charcoal using the retort method, resinous conifer woods that you could not otherwise use for cooking are nearly as good as hardwood based charcoal for cooking and heating.
When you make charcoal correctly, you have pure carbon. So the feedstock is less important. Kings ford uses a retort, and their charcoal is made from Pine & spruce, then other crap mixed in to regulate the burn better.

retort charcoal making is the exact same basis of how you can run a gasoline internal combustion engine from wood-smoke (Mother earth news has a great how-to, on run a truck on wood for fuel)
If you cannot find the article, I'll send you a link to it.
I have been wanting to take my 1980 blazer and run it on wood. But it would look like the Beverly hillbillies truck when Jethro invented his pollution control system for it! it would look like a traveling moonshine still!

Beav, thanks for the pictoral, I have what is needed to do this, and a ton of pine I would like to convert to charcoal. (like 4 acres of dead pines)
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Dead Beaver Ranch
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21 10 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent information Harry!!

When I was trying to figure out the best method of making charcoal for cooking / home use. I found a lot of information on the process of Pyrolysis but very little in the way of a practical method for doing it in my backyard. I looked at the retort at twinoaksforge.com and would have made one like that but found this to be easier and cheaper to build. (I like cheap and easy Laughing ) As you noted you get a much higher quality charcoal with this method over the burn and smother. Plus, it's much better for the environment.

Thanks for filling in the gaps.

DBR
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ckone
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21 10 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

almost seems like a sticky is in order. Thanks for posting.
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daddywoofdawg
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21 10 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ahhhh!IC your method sounds a whole lot easier I'll have to try it this year.
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Dead Beaver Ranch
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21 10 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cityevader - Thanks for the compliment!

daddywoofdawg - I do think you will be very satisfied with this method. As Harry says: You get a far superior product. Let us know when you try it.

ckone - Thank you, I like the sticky idea. I know I sure could have used it when I was searching. Although, trying several different methods did satisfy the pyro in me for a while.

Harry Nutczak - When you do the Mods on the 1980 Blazer I want to see that thing in action!! Cool Cool
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bootlegbbq
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31 10 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, so I've called every hardware, garage and feed store in a 50 mile radius and no 30 gal. drums. I do however have a 100 gal. upright propane tank. I was thinking I would cut the top off, cut a hole in the lid for the flu and some holes in the bottom for the draft as you did on your 50 gal drum. Then I intend to fill a 50 gal. drum with wood and invert in the gas bottle, fill with wood, replace the lid with the flu and see what happens. Do you see any problems with this?
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Dead Beaver Ranch
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31 10 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, this was one of the options I looked at but couldn't find a suitable container. It sounds like you have what you need. Let us know how it works. You could set the propane tank up on bricks and place the 55 gallon barrel upside down on the ground and get the same effect. That would keep you from having to drill or cut holes into the propane tank. It should hold a lot more heat than the 55 gallon drum. I don't see why it wouldn't work. Take photos!!

DBR
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bootlegbbq
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31 10 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dead Beaver Ranch...Sorry, I didn't follow you. Put the propane bottle on bricks, the the 55gal drum upside down on the ground? The 100gal. propane bottle is larger than the 55gal drum. I was thinking I would fill the 55 gal drum with seasoned wood, insert this into the 100gal propane tank. Am I missing something?
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Harry Nutczak
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31 10 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe I can help you visualize what you need to do,

The wood that you need turned into charcoal needs to be set on the ground so the dirt seals the opening. When the wood inside starts to vaporize, the gasses will be forced out under that barrel and they will iginite inside the larger propane vessel. but at the same time, no oxygen will be able to get into that barrel to sustain a fire in the barrel to burn up your precious charcoal.

The propane tank you plan to use can be consider an oven that concentrates the heat into the barrel, and contains the fire and allows a place for the outgassing from the barrel to burn off and generate even more heat to carbonize the wood in the barrel.

The real trick of this retort thing is to keep the gas that is escaping the raw wood, and use that as a gaseous fuel to further the reaction by the heat is generates.

Think of that smoke coming out of the barrel as propane, and you need it to ignite in the larger vessel to help fuel the reaction. Without using that outgassing as a heatng fuel, you would require way more wood to generate the heat needed to finish the carbonization , and if you just vented that smoke/fuel without burning it, you would create a cloud of noxious flammable gas just like venting propane.

Are you following me?
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bootlegbbq
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01 10 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I'm with you Harry...The 55gal drum is filled with wood, inverted with soil sealing the barrel to ground contact. The 100 gal. propane tank is then set on top of the 55gal drum with a few bricks under it to allow for a draft. My question now is...is there a problem with filling the 55 gal drum with seasoned wood, inverting it inside the 100 gal propane tank with the 55gal drum seated against the bottom of the 100 gal propane tank, filling the void between the 55gal drum and 100 gal propane tank with wood, starting the fire, then once it has burned down enough, capping the 100 gal propane tank with a flue similar to what Dead Beaver Ranch used on his 55gal drum and letting it burn that way???? Sorry if I'm being confusing or redundant but I just want to be sure I understand your thought process before I cut up this 100gal propane tank. Thanks for your input.
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Dead Beaver Ranch
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 02 10 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bootlegbbq - It sounds like this will work as long as the 55 gallon is sitting flush against the tank and able to seal once gassing off is complete. If you aren't setting the 110 gallon tank on bricks you will neet to provide holes in the tank to provide the draft and provide oxygen to mix with the gasses for combustion as they escape from the 55 gallon tank. The reason for the top flue is to get a clean burn by provide an after burner effect burning up any volatile gasses which haven't ignited in the process. This combustion creates additional draft feeding more air to the fire. The top may help in holding in some of the heat. I'm interested to see how this works for you. Let's see how it works. Make sure you take lots of pics.

DBR
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bootlegbbq
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 02 10 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the input DBR. That seal at the bottom is something I am concerned about because the bottom of the 100gal tank is curved. However, my thought is I might be able to fill the bottom with sand, then cut my holes 3" above the sand??? We'll see how she fits once we get the top cut off.

I'm in the middle of putting a firebox and tuning plates on my smoker so this is eating up the majority of my free time but I hope to be able to start on the charcoal in a couple weeks. I'll be sure to take lots of pic's and share the experience as you have. BTW, thanks for posting your pics. Much appreciated.
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Dead Beaver Ranch
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 03 10 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My pleasure, I enjoy passing the info on.

What may be easier for you is to just cut both ends out of the 100 gallon tank so you have a cylinder with both ends open. Then you could fill up the 55 gallon barrel with wood, tip it over on the ground then place the cylinder over the 55 gallon drum with 3 bricks at the base to hold the cylinder up off the ground. Then you would proceed to fill it up with wood and then all you need is a lid with a flue. Should work great.
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Dead Beaver Ranch
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 03 10 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bootlegbbq - you asked earlier in this thread how long a burn I could get out of my charcoal basket.

Well, yesterday at noon I filled it up and put 3 butts on it It overshot the temp getting up to 300 deg. about 4 hours into the smoke. It took about 3 hours to get it down under 250. At midnight, it was at 230 degrees and holding. I wrapped the butts in foil and said I'll see what it looks like in the morning. At 9 AM it was at 215. I took the butts off and just left the vents. At noon I checked and it was still at 210. That's a 24 hour burn on one load even with over shooting the temps in the early part of the smoke. I don't suppose I'll need to smoke anything longer than that at those temps. These UDS's are really something when it comes to being able to set it and let it smoke. Cool Cool Cool
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bootlegbbq
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 04 10 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that info DBR...What is the size of your charcoal basket?
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Dead Beaver Ranch
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 10 10 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My charcoal basket is 14" accross and 12" deep. I had about 1/3 of the lump charcoal remaining after the 24 hour burn. I really don't think I'll need anything that long but it's good to know that I have plenty with some room to spare.

DBR
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