Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

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Malachite’s Big Hole

How to Make Charcoal: Burn Your Firewood Twice

(This Article Courtesy of Otter Bob)

You can easily make a high quality charcoal for use in your forge, foundry, outdoor grill, or charcoal stove.  Using inexpensive parts available from your local hardware store you can build a charcoal retort for use inside a wood burning stove or fireplace.  By retorting the charcoal inside your wood stove, you get the benefit of burning the gas vented from the retort inside the stove to heat your home or retreat, as well as the charcoal produced inside the retort.

I have studied different postings on the Internet and purchased books on the subject of producing charcoal and wood gas.  Most ideas of homemade charcoal included large outdoor retorts, or tiny units to produce charcloth.  I was amazed at the amount of wasted heat in the production of charcoal or charcloth.  So to compromise, I developed a simple retort that did not need to be manufactured or need any tools to be assembled and would produce enough charcoal in one run to charge my outdoor grill or a short run in the forge or foundry.

You can build this retort for $15.00 to $20.00 USD

Lets build a retort, load it, and make a batch of charcoal.

Parts needed :

One, black stove pipe 24 guage, starter joint.
Two, black stove pipe 24 guage, Tee caps

There is no need to drill any holes for venting, because the starter joint has a riveted seam and is not air tight.  You can use 6 or 8 inch diameter pipe.

Now Assemble and Load the Retort

Place the retort in your burning woodstove or fireplace just as you would another piece of firewood. 

Keep an eye on it and turn it from time to time.  You will notice gas venting and burning after it starts cooking .

When the retort stops venting, the charcoal is done.  Remove the retort from the fire and set to the side and let it cool till morning .  Then open and remove your charcoal .

This will produce a very high quality charcoal that can be used for fuel, medicines, or gun powder. 


Thanks to Otter Bob for making this article available to the Big Hole.  

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