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pine charcoal, UK supplier needed

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Hi all, I Have been experiencing big problems, when processing oroshigane I have been producing.

My teacher Pavel Bolf is here to help me find the answer, and it stems from the charcoal I use.

I had good results early last year with supply from cpl, but the quality changed in September.

Since I Have used lumpwood charcoal, and it is causing many issues.

So if anyone can recommend a UK based supplier for pine charcoal I would very much appreciate it.

I need approximately 500-750 kilo a month.

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Where in the UK are you? I have spoken to Yorkshire charcoal products several years ago about having known wood charcoal. The cost compared to CPL didn't make it feasible. From memory there best price was around £1.50 per kilo compared to CPL at £0.80 per kilo. Have you looked at making your own? Dacon has some good how too's and issues in producing good charcoal similar to Japanese smithing charcoal.



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That looks promising, expensive yes, but cheaper than relocating in the short term.

I am based in Essex , but good materials are worth the effort.

Edited by Andrew Jones
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I agree that pine charcoal is very clean and desirable ( thank you Dan).

I am curious as to how Pavel came to the conclusion Sulfur was the problem... what were your problems and how are they linked to the charcoal ( what type of charcoal were you using..did the binder contain sulfur ) . I have not heard of Sulfur being a problem in charcoal iron making but who knows.



Edited by Jan Ysselstein
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I have notised that CC form trees like pine,spruce and black alden

have resin that gives props. If the CC ´s burn / distillation had not bean complete

there is chance just this resin and it could be the source of S.

Have seen that CC from black alden was source to resin like mater and it did

ruin the blade during heating , black stuff that was stick on the blade

made it crack during cooling..


Have heard that CC could be washed and dryed for use...but if its resin form in cells, cant see

this actually work.


Bark of wood has similar effects...


I use birch CC.



Edited by Niko Hynninen
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There are many issues dependent on a large range of factors in charcoal. I would have to say sulfur is not one of them. If you analyze the ash of many woods softwood and hardwood the sulfur content is about the same. About 1% of the ash. Very low.


I would hazard a guess that the problem is more to do with the type and quality of the charcoal.

As Niko said, improperly processed charcoal can lead to many issues. Charcoal is sold by weight. The higher the fixed carbon content the lighter it gets. Plus it takes a higher temperature to get a higher fixed carbon content. Time at temperature also plays a factor.So the producer loses on both ends. It takes more energy to produce a lighter product. For metallurgical purposes you want around 80% fixed carbon content.which happens around 450-500C. Since the vast majority of commercially available charcoal is for cooking, the quality control leans more towards producers benefit.


If there are still resins in the charcoal, as Niko says, that is some really crappy charcoal.


My experience with the hardwood charcoal available to me (mostly oaks) is that they are almost useless for forging in a Japanese style side blast forge, It burns into small pieces and a lot of ash that blocks the air flow. I was never able to get a weld with it. Pine burns hotter (and faster) and burns away leaving no ash. The few times I have made orishigane it quickly made a high carbon product. I cannot comment on the quality of the steel as I have not yet forged it into a blade. The jury is still out on how works it works for smelting. There is the argument that there is more heat energy in hardwood charcoal, but I have found that it takes more effort (air blast) to release that energy. Plus, the problem with ash and small pieces in hardwood charcoal. At smelting temps though, ash may not really be an issue.


The main point of this comment is that the lump charcoal you can buy off the shelf meant for cooking is not optimum for our purposes-forging or smelting. However-Making your own can be a pain in the a---. For me though, that is the only alternative.


As a side note-really good charcoal is refined. The main temp is lower than 500C but for a short time at the end the temp is raised to as much as 1000C. The lower temp causes many of the volatiles to carbonize rather than escape. The high temp at the end raises the fixed carbon content and gives the charcoal that solid ringing sound when struck. This is how Japanese pine forging charcoal (kozumi) is made.

Edited by Danocon
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  • 1 month later...



For the past 5 years iv been iv producing all different grades of Charcoal. As of jan 2014 this hobby of mine is now become a business. Fruits Of Sherwood Ltd. Based in Nottingham UK. My Air Flow Charcoal Is Second To None, Using my very own unique method to produce this type of charcoal, it can be cut to any shape of size, Large or small amounts, and comes in any flavour of Lump wood you desire. Puts CPL to shame lol. Feel free to contact me for a free sample. Dean fruits-of-Sherwood@hotmail.co.uk

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