Having a few chunks of charcoal really helps get a stubborn fire going. Luckily for us, making charcoal is very primitive, though maybe a bit hard.

Anyone who knows how to make charcloth can figure out that charcoal is basically the same. You basically burn the wood, but quickly halt the burning process by smothering it, and letting it get heated to the point of becoming a mass of charred material. In Greece, and probably plenty of other places, it’s traditional to have a huge fire of hardwood logs, and then throw dirt over most of it after it catches. It takes a long time for it to become charcoal. It’s also possible to make it in containers, again like charcloth. Some inventive people even make containers that divert and direct the gases released from the wood in the charring process, and use that to heat it further.

Since I’ll be cutting a bunch of firewood this week to supplement my parents’ heating bill, I plan to try to make some small batches of charcoal in a ceramic container. I’ll let you know if/how it works out.

I made some by burning a soup can with pieces of wood inside. Any method of flame-less (usually meaning anaerobic) heat should work.

Nice! I’m going to try that, and maybe compare the can to the ceramic container.

Right now, I’m also curious to see if a small piece of wood charcoal can be used in my fire piston. I’ve used charcloth before.

Cool, so that’s how you make charcoal without having to use a kiln or retort. Horticulture Cat sez: “Turn urz charcole into tha soil to mak terra preta.”

Ok, I’m sorry for dragging the cats into a serious thread. ::slight_smile: I’ve been wondering how to make charcoal without needing some kind of specialized structure. Smothering the fire with dirt didn’t occur to me… Thanks for mentioning this.

This is great!

My roomate was grilling on his porch a couple days ago. He was using a charcoal grill. Curious, I asked if anyone knew what charcoal was, or how to make it? No one knew.

Curiosity Satisfied.

traditional method from Southwest Europe