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DIY Charcoal. Thanks Ed. :-)

Posted By: Joe Ames
Date: Thursday, July 1, 2004 at 3:17 p.m.

CHARCOAL - Do-it-yourself

Charcoal is made from wood that is burned in a very low oxygen environment.
It can be done in a steel drum by burning the wood, choking down the air and
letting it burn out.

Depending on the condition of the oak, it may already be charred and just be
in need of breaking up.

Here are some instructions on how to do it:

A clean 55 gallon metal drum with the lid cut off roughly (you will be able
to reuse this drum many, many times)

Enough seasoned wood to fill said drum, chopped into big fist-size pieces
(ok, say 5"x5", and the wood just needs to be a couple months seasoned,
although the dryer the wood, the faster the process..)

A bag of sand
3 or 4 bricks
A case of beer(optional)
Time and patience

Start by punching/cutting 5 holes in the bottom of the drum which are each
2" square. Try to keep them towards the center. Put the drum down on the
bricks, placed so it is off the ground and fill it with the wood.

Start a fire in the drum. When it is going well, put the top back on to
reflect back the heat. Since it was cut off roughly, there will be slight
gaps to allow the a draft. Now, turn the whole thing over, placing it back
onto the bricks. (This is where you might need the case of beer to convince
several men to help you lift the sucker. It will be heavy. And mind the lid
doesn't fall off!) Wait, consuming the beer as necessary.

The smoke will start out white. This is the water vapor burning off. Next
the smoke will go blue/gray which is the alcohol and phenols burning off.
Then the smoke appears yellow, which is the tar burning off.

Finally the smoke will clear and you will just see waves of heat. When this
happens, Carefully remove the bricks out from underneath. Take the sand and
make a pile around the bottom lid, plugging up the bottom draft. Also, cover
the top with either a piece of turf or a large piece of metal. Use the sand
to seal around the turf/metal so no air can get into the drum. We are trying
for a closed system here. If air/oxygen/fire-fuel DOES get into the drum,
the charcoal will just burn up. Not what we want. Also, try not to let the
sand fall down into the drum through the holes.

Allow the drum to cool (2-3 hours). Then turn back over, pry off the top and
remove your charcoal. If there is a spark, the charcoal may "catch", but
just douse it with some water. The charcoal will still be hot enough to dry
out. Repeat above process as necessary.

Posted by
"Edwin Pawlowski" <esp@snet.net>
on
Newsgroups: alt.food.barbecue

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