Author Topic: How to make charcoal  (Read 1349 times)

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Offline EC

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How to make charcoal
« on: November 12, 2012, 03:03:34 AM »
Note: Charcoal is a wonderfully efficient heat source, fast lighting and good for both cooking and heating, but if you plan to use it indoors, invest in some carbon monoxide detectors. It will kill you in an unventilated space.

The Article on how to make charcoal is here.

Now as to the why's despite the warning at the top of this post.

1/ You can make charcoal from mostly unseasoned wood. Green wood doesn't burn terribly well, but can easily be turned into charcoal. You will still need some seasoned wood to start the burn, but not as much.

2/ It burns both hotter and longer than wood does, giving you more heating/cooking power in a fraction of the storage space. Not a problem for some people, but it is for others.

3/ Charcoal is vital in water filtration. It's not going to pull out every pathogen there is, but a sand and charcoal filter will clean rain water to drinkable levels.

4/ You can use it for smithing and hammer welding as needed.
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Offline volunbeer

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Re: How to make charcoal
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2012, 04:16:54 PM »
You can also use charcoal (biochar) in your garden.  This is especially helpful if you have very poor soil or sandy soil and you want increased water/nutrient retention in your garden beds.  Charcoal is also a beneficial supplement for small livestock and chickens who will self-medicate intestinal bugs and potentially toxic feed if charcoal is available.  Strangely enough, the charcoal seems to bind nutrients and retain water even in sandy soils that leach out. 

I am trying this out in my garden and put some out for the chickens.   I was using an outdoor burn pit, but I need to fabricate a more efficient way of making charcoal.   
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Offline Chieftain

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Re: How to make charcoal
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2012, 06:35:20 PM »
You can also use charcoal (biochar) in your garden.  This is especially helpful if you have very poor soil or sandy soil and you want increased water/nutrient retention in your garden beds.  Charcoal is also a beneficial supplement for small livestock and chickens who will self-medicate intestinal bugs and potentially toxic feed if charcoal is available.  Strangely enough, the charcoal seems to bind nutrients and retain water even in sandy soils that leach out. 

I am trying this out in my garden and put some out for the chickens.   I was using an outdoor burn pit, but I need to fabricate a more efficient way of making charcoal.

I keep my woodstove ashes in a 30 gallon galvanized can, and in the fall when I layer leaves and coop cleanout debris into the compost pile I always put the ashes in too.  There is always a lot of fine charcoal and I figured it would do some good to work it back into the pile. 
Even charcoal briquette ashes are great to use too.  They use lime to make briquettes, which makes the ashes excellent for adjusting ph, especially in the compost pile when you add a bunch of acidic leaves...

I also use mesquite charcoal for grilling that I can get for $13/50 lb bag, and the fines in the bottom go into the compost pile too. 

The chickens like nothing better than to go mining the compost pile for worms and they do a great job churning and chopping the pile for me.  I toss a handful of scratch in there and off they go; a small flock of healthy chickens can be one of your best gardening tools, and whatever they eat they metabolize into eggs and fertilizer, and they really like weeds...

 :beer:

 

Offline volunbeer

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Re: How to make charcoal
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2012, 07:27:48 PM »
I set up the chicken run in our orchard - it's about a 3rd of an acre with an 8ft deer fence on the outside and a 6ft fence on the inside seperating the garden (acre total).  We just planted the orchard a year ago so the trees are still young.  I mulched the orchard with horsestall pine shavings (free delivery by the guy of 14 dump trailer loads) about 4-6 inches deep on top of last years fall leaves we collected.  I figured it would be good for the young trees and the chickens would stir it.  We will seed it with clover next spring and hope that it stays established as the chickens eat it.  It's alot of space for our girls although we may add some more hens next spring.  We do not let them in the garden - they would massacre the comfrey, my redworms, and herbs.  I also don't want to tempt my shepherd and lose them to predation.  The orchard is 2 trees wide and I put string from post to post to deter the owls and eagles.  The redtail hawk likes to sit on a fencepost and look at the girls, but he has not bothered them. 

As we took down the garden this year, I threw everything besides the moldy vines into their run so they have eaten well.  I put all the old vines into the bottom of a new garden trench to start another bed.  We are trying to build a nice garden on top of dead gray clay.  I throw in wood ash when I can and our main goal for now is to build up the humus where we don't kill our well watering the garden.  I have started adding biochar and want to add rock dust and calcium based on what some of our tomatoes looked like. 

I have several large piles of scrap wood and dead pines - from what I have read I need to season the pine for another year before we turn it into charcoal.  I was going to rent a chipper shredder for a day last spring and never got around to it, but biochar will be a nice consolation prize.  We got tons of woodchips for free at the beginning of the summer and I have a few folks that drop them off periodically.  The clay just eats everything! 

My goal is to eventually level off another acre near my house and make that a big composting area that I can easily access with my tractor to turn piles. 

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