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Make Charcoal

Posted: Tue May 23, 2017 11:48 pm
by Weedo
Anyone ever made charcoal for cooking fuel? I have a source of green red gum limbs that will otherwise be heaped and burnt and thought I may try converting them to charoal for barbeque fuel?

Re: Make Charcoal

Posted: Wed May 24, 2017 12:20 am
by Brewtrog
Never done it with wood, but I've had a little success with making charcloth. The basic idea is to burn it with very little oxygen.
I know it used to be done by covering the wood with earth, lighting a small fire and keeping a very close eye on the whole thing, covering or making holes as needed.
With charcloth that's done by poking a hole in the lid of a tin, filling it with cloth and putting it into a fire. Not sure how you could easily do it with actual wood.
Could you just burn the wood to get the embers and cook over those? Might take a bit longer to get to the same stage but might work.
Also is the smoke food safe? I know some woods give off poisonous or just unpleasant smoke that can make food taste bad, or make the food actually bad.

Re: Make Charcoal

Posted: Wed May 24, 2017 8:16 am
by Green Aura
Brewtrog wrote:Also is the smoke food safe? I know some woods give off poisonous or just unpleasant smoke that can make food taste bad, or make the food actually bad.


I was wondering something similar myself - I assume red gum is a Eucalyptus. Is it a heavy scented one, like E. globulus or E. citriodora? There are so many different ones (great for me (Aromatherapist) but possibly not for your dinner. :(

However, if it is a suitable wood, there are loads of instructional videos on YouTube. We want pictures, if you do. :lol:

Re: Make Charcoal

Posted: Wed May 24, 2017 11:57 pm
by Weedo
Hi
River Red Gum is E. camaldulensis and has been used for charcoal cooking for many years - it is actually sought after for this use. The red gum is not nearly as heavily scented as the two you mention GA. The volatile oils in eucs are produced by glands in the leaves. I guess what few volatile oils are in the wood would be driven off in the charring process? I have done a lot of open fire cooking over the years and never had a problem with the oils tainting food unless you put leaves and small twigs on the fire.

I think I will have a go at burning in a pit on a small scale and see what happens.