Three Different Methods for Making Charcoal

In this latest Primitive Technology video, John shows three methods you can use for creating charcoal.

He writes:

With more iron smelting experiments coming up, I demonstrate 3 different methods to make charcoal, ranked easiest to hardest.

The first method was in a simple clay lined pit where a pile of wood was neatly stacked over and lit from the top down. The pile then completely carbonizes without turning to ash. When the sticks at the bottom burn the coals fall into the pit and are extinguished with water. This method is the easiest and takes the least time. But the charcoal is wet and smaller pieces are made as it tends to over burn before extinguishing.

The second method is the mound which involves making a conical pile of wood and coating it in mud leaving openings around the base and one n the top. Again the pile is lit from the top and the fire burns back down against the draft carbonizing the pile. The fire is then snuffed out by closing the openings. This method produces better quality charcoal of larger lumps with less fines. But it takes more time and labor to make as the mound is demolished each time a batch is used.

The final method was the charcoal kiln. This was a cylindrical furnace with holes in the base that was filled with wood and only the top was covered with mud. It works the same way as the mound method but instead of coating the whole mound with mud each time, only the top was covered. This makes good quality charcoal with less labor once the kiln has been built.


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