Natural wood charcoal has many uses. We use charcoal on our homestead on a weekly basis. You can use it for grilling, a heat source, gardening, water filtration, making pine glue, and more. Natural wood charcoal is also very expensive, but easy to make.
The only thing you need in order to make wood charcoal is a 55 gallon metal drum. Drill a bunch of 1/2" holes on the bottom of the drum. Then drill a bunch around the bottom side of the drum 2" from the bottom. This will allow for airflow and will be easy to shut down the fire.
The next important thing is to cut your wood. I recommend 12" long and 3" diameter pieces. Make sure all the wood is the same type and uniform. I prefer seasoned oak or other hardwood.
Dig a hole that is 8"-10" deep and wide enough to sit your drum inside. Lay the soil you dug out around the perimeter of the hole in the ground. Put 3 bricks in the hole so you can sit the drum on. Lay your drum at an angle to start filling with wood. Start off with filling the bottom with about 10" of kindling. Then, stack the cut wood inside, standing it up and filling it tightly. Continue to fill the drum to the top with wood.
Now, you can stand the drum on the bricks and use a torch to light the kindling from the bottom. This will allow the fire to crawl up the wood, turning it into charcoal. Burning the wood usually takes about 20-40 minutes depending on the wood. Just keep an eye on it and when it shrinks down about by about ½, you will be ready.
If you think your charcoal is ready, take the soil around the hole and toss it at the base of the drum. You want to seal off all the air flow in order to kill your fire. If you have a lid, throw it on top to smolder the fire. Most of the time I just use a garden hose, cautiously, to shower water over the wood. This takes a long time to kill off the flames, but the faster you stop the burning, the more charcoal you will have.
If you wet your charcoal you will need to let it dry a few days till you can use it. Wait a day after you burn it, so you are sure the heat is out. To speed up the drying, you can lay a tarp down in a sunny location and spread out your charcoal.
That's all there is to making your own natural wood charcoal. Now you can find all sorts of uses for it. You can use it for increasing the quality of your soil by adding it 6" under your soil. It will hold all the nutrients of the soil so that plant roots can access it longer. You can use the charcoal for heat, cooking, or even pine tar glue!
My wife and I have 3 daughters and everyone helps to keep things going on our small homestead. Our pantry and freezers are usually full from what we produce and forage. We make most of our clothing and other house hold items like soap. We love to share what we have learned come take a look at what we have been up to: Rustic Farms Homestead http://www.rustic-farms.com
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