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Making my own charcoal



Part 1:
I'm giving this a second chance after some more thought and reading. I am trying to create hardwood lump charcoal in a retort over a flame. As I was unable to obtain a steel 5 gallon bucket without purchasing one I am using my old water bath canner - replaced with a pressure canner / beer kettle. I have been cutting and chopping blocks of wood from an ash tree removed from down the street and some poplar that someone had at the road side.

With the use of my bow saw and a small ax I have roughly fist size pieces.

These were loaded into the canner and the lid placed on it. I hope the lid keeps enough oxygen out to prevent combustion. As this is a cheap enamel pot I have no worries about pressure building up.

The pot of wood chunks was put on the remnants of a charcoal cooking fire in my Weber kettle then small sticks and shop scraps were piled around it. Some of the sticks were not as dry as I thought so they smoked like the devil for a few minutes.

This is the progress as of 40 minutes ago. The lid is now partially on the grill and the thing is stinkin' HOT. I'll wait until tomorrow to open and check on things.

And another pic because it was really cool looking.


Part 2:

I will preface this with the fact that I have little to no experience with lump charcoal.

Some of the charcoal I made, at first glance looked a little under converted but most of it feels really light weight.

The canning pot resulted in just under a 5 gallon bucket worth of charcoal lumps.

Some of the wood chunks I put in were scraps from my shop and these seemed to fracture into small pieces but the chunks of tree limbs held together well.

Tonight I cooked on it for the first time. The chimney starter was loaded and started with two sheets of news print. After around 10 minutes I had flames shooting up from the starter nearly two feet high. I dumped that in the kettle, spread it out, and put the kabobs on. When I went back to check the kabobs much of the charcoal was burnt out and the grill was getting cool. I then added more of the DIY lumps to finish the kabobs. I'll also add that these lumps did not cook very evenly but that may be a problem with the user.

After the kabobs were off the grill I added three small log splits to get a fire going again and placed a dutch oven of beets on the food grate to roast.

I don't really know if the charcoal turned out correctly or not because of my lack of cooking with it. It seemed really hot on the grill but burned out really fast. I also question the amount of flame I was getting from the charcoal rather than just hot smoldering.