Charcoal plays a very important part in pyro and trying to buy cheap good quality willow charcoal is pretty hard ..
..So my only option is to make it yourself..I have started making some this week and will make as much as i can before i get fed up of debarking the willow ...I have chopped up some old willow tree branches and debarked them and left them out to dry for the last 2 weeks orso..I found that it didnt have to be dry but it stops a lot of smoke when the wood is drier..
...I placed the willow in to a metal box which i made out of mild steel sheeting Willow before atkins diet out of intrest i weighed it on an old bathroom scale to see what yield i would get..
Here you can see the box in the kiln Ready steady cook! ..
One good thing about making your own charcoal with an electric kiln is that you can control the cooking temp very constistantly,so in theory my charcoal should be fairly consistant quality..I used an electronic thermometer to measure the cooking temp..389 centigrade ..
..As you can see the wood starts producing lots of grey smoke..temp was about 390 C..After about 40 minutes the color of the smoke changes to a white/blue colour this is a sign that pyrolysis has begun, i ignite this smoke with lighter and it burns with a yellow sooty flame.Burn Baby Burn!..After about another 40 minutes the fire goes out and there is no more smoke..this indicates that the charcoal is ready and needs cooling down!
Now what you have to do is to stop oxygen getting to the charcoal so what i do is quickly remove the tin from the kiln Turn the box upside down with the lid still on?and cover it with earth..Soil
I leave this to cool down its very important to do this ..here is what happens if you try to rush things.. Ashes to Ashes.. as you can see if oxygen gets too warm charcoal it er burns .. and not much use..Look at all that horrible white ash..
Now look at the nice shiny black charcoal Cooked to perfection and here is my grubby little hands on it Charcoal stick it breaks with a sharp crack and its black all the way through no brown bits of under cooked wood
I weighed it before it was cooked now lets see what it weighs after cooking After atkins diet. . 16 lbs before and about 9 1/2 lbs after so 6 1/2 lbs lighter? Now the tin box weighs about 7 1/2 lbs So i have about 2lb of Willow Charcoal left from 8 1/2 lbs of wood.. So a yeild of about 25% ..
Also going to make some Pine charcoal as that sounds pretty good for producing nice sparks..
Edited by sasman, 28 February 2005 - 03:54 PM.