Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hi All! This is my first post in this forum! ^_^

 

I came from Italy and I try to forge good blades (and armour) since 2004 using possibly only traditional techniques.

 

During my studies about traditional fuels for forges I have visited two countries in the alps where the charcoal is made in the traditional way and I have spoken with one the last men that mades charcoal as a work.

He told me some "secrets" and explain the method to build the "pojàt" (north-italian name for the wood stack necessary for the process).

 

Here some photos of one of my pojàt experiments.

Until now I have made only 3 attempts.

The process is difficult in particular because you have to control, hour by hour, the weather (wind in particular) conditions and change the position of pipes. In my firts attemp more than half of the charcoal burn only for a change in the direction of the wind.

A big stack needs more cares and more time, and for this reason the charcoal makers sleep near the pojàt during the process to control it and stop when it is finished.

 

I use this charcoal, mixed with coke (1 part charcoal-2 parts coke), to forge armours in particular.

 

If you have questions please ask me!

 

Greetings

DSCN2608.JPG

DSCN2610.JPG

DSCN2612.JPG

DSCN2613.JPG

167186_108233739254407_7511836_n.jpg

168094_108233989254382_7388370_n.jpg

168438_108233789254402_5349851_n.jpg

180968_108233949254386_3601340_n.jpg

181836_108233902587724_4178472_n.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 122
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Jan,   I agree-For the most part.   But each of us make our own series of complex decisions to arrive at our "art". Here in the US and maybe elsewhere-Jeep has come up with what I consider a brill

Me too Jesus   I have set some ambitious criteria for this setup.   1) It must be controllable. Unlike my previous setup that once the candle was lit, it was pretty much a runaway train.    

I have some interesting information (Well to me anyway), but I have no idea what it is telling me.   I am in the process of building my charcoal kiln. Much of it involves welding and my welding skil

Posted Images

Nice traditional methods.

And welcome Giovanni.

Perhaps the Admins will move this to it's own thread, right next to Dan's. For a good comparison of tec.

 

Mark

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you Mark!

 

Here some photos from the book "Magli e Fucine d'Europa" (editor Angelo Colla, author Mario de Ruitz) that talk about the ancient blacksmith workshops in south-east Europe.

 

 

1 car.jpg

car 001.jpg

car 002.jpg

car 003.jpg

car 004.jpg

car 005.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Giovanni,

Thanks for posting that method...very interesting, I hope you get a good yield.

Each winter I burn an amount of yard waste in a pit ..this year I am lining the pit with bricks ( from a steel mill rotary kiln). After the burn calms down I try to save the coals for smelting, here is a picture taken today of the pit under construction (4ft X 4ft dia).This burn produces no smoke but he soft charcoal limits the stack hight of a smelting furnace.

I wanted to smelt in this pit as well as make charcoal and pre-reduce my ore ( kind of like some people roast ore.....but the pit environment is different and should be hot enough (while very reducing) to remove some oxygen from the ore. So instead of wanting it to do 3 things I will settle for two (charcoal and reduction of ore).

 

 

Jan

charcoal.jpg

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

our current charcoal kiln is based on iwasaki~san's miniature japanese kiln: iwasaki-sumiyaki.com/esub2.htm

having his calculations for the opening sizes in the firebox, firewall, and flue helped minimize the oxygen and maximize the efficiency...and its dead easy to operate compared to some of our previous retort methods...keep a small fire burning in the combustion chamber, watch the steamy white smoke, when it changes to blue/clear burn for 5 more minutes to allow the temperature rise, then seal it up for the night...here are some of the details/differences of ours: islandblacksmith.ca/how-charcoal-is-made/

and a clip to give the overview of operation...

**not shown is that it needs to be fully insulated somehow or the bottom layers of wood will not cook fully...learned that pretty quick!

@Danocon is your round kiln working well and pretty much your final source for charcoal now?

@Tamahagane Arts what was the quality of the montana pine charcoal compared to nihon no mokutan?

Edited by DaveJ
Link to post
Share on other sites

Really great pictures Giovanni,

 

The biggest advantage of this type of charcoaling is that it is very little equipment needed. Pile up the wood, cover with leaves and dirt- light it.

 

The down side is that it take lot of skill and practice to get it right and the yields are low -percentage wise.

But a lot of charcoal can be made at one time this way.

 

Thanks for the pictures

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dave,

Technically, what you have is not a retort.. A retort is a sealed container that is heated externally and has an exit flue for gasses.

Yours, I would term a kiln that works on the same principle as my 4' round kiln. Hot gasses from a combustion chamber enter the coaling chamber heating and coaling the wood.

 

Giovanni's pictures show the direct method while a retort is an indirect method. Ours is something in between and I believe the best method for getting quality charcoal consistently. The Japanese have used this method for centuries.

 

To answer your question my round kiln has made about a 1000 lbs of good charcoal. But it is not very efficient. It takes me two good days to make 150lbs. My Tatara can easily chew though 800lbs in a burn. So I am building a much bigger and what I term a hybrid kiln.

 

It is a radical design and I have no idea if it will work or how the operation will go. Hopefully I can produce 800-1000lbs in a couple of days. Design should be scalable for smaller applications.

 

Here is a picture of the lid. (and me :) )

 

hybrid lid.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

@Danocon wow, that's gonna be a monster!

 

yes, the last two versions i built were retorts, but this one is a kiln, based on the japanese model...and i am very happy with the quality and quantity of the charcoal made this way over the retort method...

 

are there major design changes from your current kiln or mainly a lot more space in there? do you find the round design cooks evenly enough?

 

i look forward to the reports!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Danocon, on 21 Jan 2014 - 16:45, said:

Major design changes.

 

Stay Tuned. :ph34r:

gladly!

 

 

a friend sent this, for some deep extended reading...a technical paper on charcoal making:

http://www.fao.org/docrep/X5328E/x5328e00.htm

 

here's one highly useful snippet i caught:

"Studies have shown that charcoal with optimum properties for the iron

industry is produced with wood pieces measuring about 25-80 mm across

the grain. Length along the grain has little influence."

 

and a video from Japan: http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/japans-charcoal-making-traditions-still-alive

(part of a series on satoyama, traditional managed forest)

Edited by DaveJ
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...
  • 3 months later...

I read that wood vinegar is used as herbicides and fungicides Danocon -- dont know how much truth there is to it. But i believe it. Wood is the only burning fuel to its byproduct be useful for anything else after its been burned!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 11 months later...
  • 4 months later...

Booo Hisss :) Dan what happened you had me all interested and then you left me high and dry.  LOL

Robert

Edited by RobertMunford
stuck foot in mouth and put in wrong place i think
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 years later...

charcoal making using 30 gal. barrels and dirt. Cut the top and bottom out of one barrel. second barrel remove the top by cutting it off about 2" down on the side and for the bottom cut small holes all around the bottom,. Fill the bottom barrel with small pieces of wood. Light a fire on top of the wood in the bottom barrel.. Place the first barrel with the end removed on top of the bottom barrel. throw more wood on top of the bottom barrel as the charcoal volume will shrink when the wood becomes charcoal. When the fire is seen in the holes cut in the bottom sides of the bottom barrel, knock the top barrel off and place the cut off barrel top on the bottom barrel. shovel dirt to cover the vent holes cut in the bottom barrel. When the bottom barrel is cold, it will be full of charcoal.

 

second method. build a large pile of wood chunks, tree limbs etc. set the wood pile on fire, When the wood pile has burned and the flames are mostly out. shovel wet dirt on the pile to keep the air out. After several days, the fire should be out and the wood turned to charcoal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

Hi everyone, I'vebeen researching making my own charcoal, I have begun smithing but I use coke. I do tend to produce  wood offcuts that I usually burn in the house. But making charcoal seems like a more useful approach.

 

I like the idea of the iwasaki style mill, unfortunately it seems to smoke a lot when it's working as it should and I have neighbors. So it seems I am going to have to go with a retort style even if they seem to be more difficult for quality charcoal production. If I have understood the challenges right it's how to keep the retort from overheating and overcooking.

 

My gut instinct tells me that you need a high temperature probe into where the coal is being made, an efficient way to restrict the air to the fire, and also perhaps a way to redirect some of the wood gas if temperatures rise too high (preferrably to a ).

 

Or does anyone here have any idea if the iwasaki design can be made to smoke less? Some talk of distilling the tar and woodvinegar from it, but is that an effective way of reducing smoke?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know if it will help you or not, but I have a thread here on a retort style charcoal kettle. I have had very good results with this method and it doesn't smoke so much as to annoy the neighbors.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

You wrote in your thread you had changed your method? But I did not see what that entailed? And did you add a retort function to it? I understood yours wasn't a retort and in that it looks like it would be functionally very similar to a iwasaki, so I wonder what the process is that reduces the smoke from it...

 

A retort as I understand it is when the kiln is sealed and uses the woodgas for fuel to run the reaction. Since you didn't do that that's also where the black gunk you mentioned comes from, it condenses back into the barrel I believe.

 

A retort is from what I can see a lot like my fireplace with secondary combustion.  It adds extra fresh air to the fire which combusts the same unburnt woodgasses which otherwise coat the inside of the fireplae and chimney. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I drilled a bunch of 1/2 inch holes through the bottom of the kettle. I still started a fire underneath, but the holes allowed for more heat/flame to attack the wood inside, and over a larger surface area. I also start a small burn on the top around the perimeter at the same time.

Once both fires are burning well, I cover the top and let it sit. It takes most of the day to burn out, and the smoke is really minimal. I think that if I added a retort function and redirected the off-gasses back into the kettle, it would likely burn much faster. Not sure about that though.

 

The pine tar does collect on the sides a little and mostly on the lid. This I scape off after a few burns and collect for another project of making cutler's resin. 


Another change I made was to reduce the 2x2 sticks down to about 4-6 inches long and stack them on end in layers. I also did some with the shorter sticks and just dumped them inside and moved them around to limit the airspace between them. I seem to remember the latter option produced the most complete transformation to charcoal, but also lost more of the raw wood to complete burn. See that later photo of what was left in the kettle. The photos of charcoal in the barrels is how they came out of the kettle, They weren't broken before putting in the barrels unless they snapped in handling.

 

Fresh air is naturally drawn into the kettle through the bottom via the Venturi effect. Eliminating the black gunk comes from diverting the off-gasses back into the fire for another combustion round. The black gunk is mostly an oily substance and other organic compounds that hardens, but is also flammable.  A secondary burning will reduce the residue significantly, but not entirely, is what I understand.

Edited by Joshua States
Link to post
Share on other sites

I use a small garbage can with holes in the lid and around the bottom. I build a fire around it and when smoke stops coming out of the barrel I seal it with soil and re stoke the fire. That's not really the point of my response though. I just wanted to let you know what method I was using. I've found that the size and placement of the wood is one of the most important factors. The more carefully I charge the can with the cut wood the better the results. I prefer pine also but sometimes use hardwood. 

 

Pnut

Link to post
Share on other sites

^^^^ Interesting that people seem to prefer pine here. Not that I am complaining, I live in Finland and that's by far the most common tree...

22 hours ago, Joshua States said:

I drilled a bunch of 1/2 inch holes through the bottom of the kettle. I still started a fire underneath, but the holes allowed for more heat/flame to attack the wood inside, and over a larger surface area. I also start a small burn on the top around the perimeter at the same time.

Once both fires are burning well, I cover the top and let it sit. It takes most of the day to burn out, and the smoke is really minimal. I think that if I added a retort function and redirected the off-gasses back into the kettle, it would likely burn much faster. Not sure about that though.

 

The pine tar does collect on the sides a little and mostly on the lid. This I scape off after a few burns and collect for another project of making cutler's resin. 


Another change I made was to reduce the 2x2 sticks down to about 4-6 inches long and stack them on end in layers. I also did some with the shorter sticks and just dumped them inside and moved them around to limit the airspace between them. I seem to remember the latter option produced the most complete transformation to charcoal, but also lost more of the raw wood to complete burn. See that later photo of what was left in the kettle. The photos of charcoal in the barrels is how they came out of the kettle, They weren't broken before putting in the barrels unless they snapped in handling.

 

Fresh air is naturally drawn into the kettle through the bottom via the Venturi effect. Eliminating the black gunk comes from diverting the off-gasses back into the fire for another combustion round. The black gunk is mostly an oily substance and other organic compounds that hardens, but is also flammable.  A secondary burning will reduce the residue significantly, but not entirely, is what I understand.

 

Regarding the bolded part. I think if you are getting good quality charcoal from this, the reason might be it gets to cook longer at lower heat. Maybe charcoal is like barbecue, low and slow does it.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, Dennis Asp said:

Interesting that people seem to prefer pine here.

Both the Japanese and the Norse used pine charcoal. From what I understand, pine and fir burns faster and hotter. Hardwoods burn slower and cooler.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...