Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE01-375.
The goal of this project was to make a marketable product (charcoal) from the large amount of tree waste material that is left after a harvest of softwood trees. Ken wanted to make a kiln that was inexpensive to build and simple to operate so that a high percentage of charcoal could be made from a cord of wood.
Ken constructed a charcoal kiln from a scrap 500 gallon oil drum. The drum was filled with four foot long wood that was smaller than 6 inches in diameter stacked vertically. “Coaling” can take from 6 to 24 hours, during which time draft holes and flue pipes are manipulated to provide optimum conditions to make charcoal.
Ken found regulating the coaling process to be difficult. Since he could not see the progress of a batch, he did not know when to regulate the drafts. As a result, he often had a low yield of charcoal production for the amount of wood in the kiln. He also found the design of the kiln to be unwieldy, needing to move a very heavy cover for each batch of charcoal that was made.
Ken also found that the tree tops and curved logs that he believed would be waste products were not easy to make into charcoal because he could not pack the kiln tightly with these oddly shaped pieces. He wondered if these types of waste wood material might be better left in the woods to decompose and provide small animal habitat. Slab wood from sawmills was a good material to make into charcoal as it was easy to stack in the kiln and would otherwise be burned as waste material.