bio char

shuffles_gwFebruary 12, 2013

Has anyone experience with making bio char for the garden. I found a couple reicpes. One uses leaves and produces a fine char. The other uses branches up to 3 inches. Both call for a 55 gallon steel drum. With oak leaf season here, I need to find a drum.

Use tinsnips to cut a 2-inch hole in the center of the bottom of a 55-gallon steel drum. Cut four more holes around the center hole, with each positioned about 6 inches from the center hole.

Stuff each of the five holes with dried leaves. These leaves should be dry and able to burn easily. These will act as fuses to begin the carbonation process inside the drum.

Set the drum upright on the three bricks so there is space between the bottom of the drum and the ground.

Fill the drum up to the top with the leaves and stalks. Fill in empty spaces to reduce the flow of oxygen inside the barrel. Fill it as high as you can without interfering with the placement of the lid.

Light each fuse that's sticking out of the bottom of the drum, and let the smoke fill the drum. Wait five to 10 minutes for the thick plumes of smoke to die down. A lot of this smoke is burning off the natural oils from the leaves, and you don't want them in your charcoal.

Press the trigger on the pilot-light lighter and hold it to the smoke emerging from the drum. There should be a flash of flame as the last of the oils are burned off.

Cover the top of the drum immediately, and remove the bricks from underneath. If even a little bit of oxygen is able to get flowing through the drum, the leaves will burn and not carbonize. Set one of the bricks on the drum lid.

Wait two hours or until the drum is warm, but not hot, to the touch. Remove the lid.

Modified Pit Firing In Drum
Drill one hole in the center of the bottom of the trash can, and drill four holes in a rectangular shape around the center hole. Drill the holes around the center about 4 inches away from the center hole. The openings let air circulate through the can as the wood burns.

Place three bricks on the ground in a clear area. Make sure there are no leaves, grass, pine straw or other materials that might catch on fire easily. Place the trash can on top of the bricks with the bottom of the can facing the bricks. Keep the drilled holes open.

Fill the trash can full of small pieces of wood. Keep the pieces of wood about 3 inches around or smaller. The length doesn't matter, as long as the pieces fit completely in the can.

Squirt a small amount of lighter fluid across the wood, and light the wood using the matches or lighter. Place the lid tightly on the trash can. Put one brick on top of the can, so it stays on tightly.

Watch the smoke coming out of the trash can. The smoke comes out yellowish at first as debris burns off the wood. After any debris burns off, the smoke turns whitish gray before the fire burns itself out.

Leave the can undisturbed overnight before opening the trash can. When you open the can, it is full of charcoal.

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