I succeeded last night in making my first batch of charcoal. Unfortunately, it took me three attempts to get it completely turned to charcoal and I am not quite sure that it was completely successful because some of the branches don’t snap easily.
I obviously haven’t perfected the making of charcoal as this is my first batch. As such, I won’t go into too much detail of how I made it. Just a few general ideas. I will probably provide more information once I get it figured out. I used a retort method using the paint can featured in the picture above. On the bottom of the can, I have a pattern of holes punched into it. The pattern I used is only there to prevent the can from having the lid blown off as the wood off gases when it is turned into charcoal.
I packed the can full of decent sized branches. Then I used a grill filled with more wood and used leaves to get the wood lit. I put the can into the grill and closed the lid. A couple of hours later, I removed the can from the grill, set it so that the holes were covered, and let it cool off.
All the wood and leaves were dead fall or pruned from trees on my property and zero trees were cut down to fuel this. I did end up using a lighter to get the leaves started, as I wasn’t going to spend hours just getting the fire lit.