Making charcoal is simpler than most people think. It basically involves cooking wood in a container. The process eliminates volatile gases and other substances to leave behind charcoal. However, you will need enough space to perform this activity. Here are 8 simple steps on how to make charcoal using two drums.
Buy 2 drums (a small one and a larger one)
The larger drum should be able to accommodate the small one and leave sufficient space. For the purpose of this article, we are going to use a 30 gal (113.6L) drum and a 55 gal (208.2L) drum.
Incorporate a fuel hold into the larger drum
Using a metal jigsaw blade, cut a square hole in the base of the 55 gallon drum. The cut should be roughly 20 inches (50.8 cm) by 12 inches (30.5 cm). It will come in handy for feeding fuel into the drum.
Drill several holes at the bottom of the 30 gallon drum
The holes are meant to allow heat into the drum, burning the wood inside. The holes should be about 5 to 6 1/2 inch wide.
Add cured wood into the small drum
Good options include hickory wood, oak wood, and cherry wood chopped into 4″ pieces. Fill up the drum completely and then cover it with a lid. NB: the lid should be cracked to allow moisture out of the drum.
Prepare a stand in the bigger drum
Place 2 bricks at the bottom of the 55 gallon drum, on opposite sides. Place one brick over each of the flat bricks, with the new additions standing on their long edges. The standing bricks allow you to add more fuel into the drum by separating the smaller drum from the bigger drum.
Position the smaller drum over the stand
Lower the smaller drum into the larger drum. If it does not fit well, use stones or smaller bricks to create a smaller stand. Cover the larger drum with a cracked lid (for air flow).
Build a fire within the larger drum and keep it burning for 7 to 8 hours
To make the fire, use kindling and wood. Feed the materials through the hole at the base of the drum. When the fire grows bigger, add larger pieces of wood. Keep adding dense wood to make the fire as hot as possible.
Leave the fire to burn out
The 7 to 8 hours of burning will displace gases, moisture, and impurities from the wood, leaving you with pure charcoal. Let the whole contraption cool off completely before emptying the charcoal into a separate container. Store for later use.
Making charcoal at home is oddly satisfying. The process of loading scrap wood in a drum, applying fire, and then removing pure charcoal makes you feel like the alchemist of old. Hopefully you will also have fun learning how to make charcoal using the two drum technique.