How to make charcoal

------------------------------------------------- Revised 05/24/19
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Above, bushcraft expert Primitive Technology creates charcoal from raw
resources and with his bare hands.

Steps for the Mound Method of Making Charcoal.
Primitive Technology shows you how to make charcoal with your
bare hands. The video has no words, but you can see the basic

  • Collect wood, branches and brush. Cut logs from hardwood
    ~ this is the mainstay of your collection. Oak hardwood is
    excellent. Be sure to collect small branches and dried brush.

  • Break your logs. If you don't have any tools, find heavy rocks
    to help you cut. Primitive Technology is masterful and a bit
    creative in these bushcrafting techniques.

  • Clear a site. Just like any campfire, clear a site for your
    project in a place that does not have any roots below that
    could catch fire. Be mindful to have a site with accessible dirt.
    You'll need this dirt for a step in the process. This is a project
    for a sunny day. If rain is the forecast, don't attempt.

  • Dig a pit. If you don't have any tools, you can use a stick to
    grind at the earth. The pit should be just enough to put a log
    horizontally. Next fill the dirt to ensure your log stays upright.
    The log and those you place around it will become the
    charcoal you're working to attain. To make the charcoal,stack
    your logs into a mound with the largest pieces in the center
    and smaller sticks and leaves on the out side.

  • Start with the largest center log in the pit hole. Next, work
    your way around the center log placing the other logs
    vertically and working concentrically around the base log in
    the shape of a teepee. There should be very little space
    between the logs. Your aim is to cut off any potential air
    supply. Shorter logs will be at the perimeter so as to maintain
    a conical shape.

  • Once you've placed the logs, start placing thin sticks. In the
    same fashion, work around the logs to fill in the gaps.  Why
    small twigs on the outside? Wood near the air entries may
    burn to ash. To protect the large pieces of charcoal, put small
    brush on the out side of the mound so that it burns before the
    larger wood on the insid

  • Add dried brush. When the smaller twigs have filled the
    gaps, add a layer of dried brush. Start at the bottom and work
    your way up so that brush covers the entire conical mound.

  • Dig for clay to cover the pit. Mix water with dirt you've
    cleared from the pit, along with other dirt from your cleared
    area. Lay the mud on your mound working from the bottom up
    and smoothing the mud to ensure an even surface.

  • Dig small vents at the bottom of your structure. You may
    need six or eight vent holes, the purpose of which is to vent
    the fire which will burn inside. You may need to patch the
    vents at the base of the mound by plugging them with mud.
    In the process you will be remove some of the mud you've
    just applied.

  • Allow the mud to harden overnight. The purpose of the mud
    is to seal your container of wood.

  • Light a fire at the top of the mound. Once the fire catches to
    the base wood pile you've created, close the mound with mud.
    When the fire burning inside reaches up to each opening,  
    plug them with mud. Once you have all 6-8 holes sealed, you
    can plut the hole at the top of the mound was sealed with
    mud. From lighting the mound to closing up the holes will take
    about 4 hours.

  • Allow to smoulder. It's a time consuming method. It can take
    two days for the mound to cool. The initial combustion drives
    off the volatile components of the wood, such as sap.

When it's cooled you'll have your own premium hardwood charcoal
that's free of chemicals. Use your charcoal for smoking fish and
meats. It burns hot, searing your meat and locking in the flavors
and will impart the very best flavor and taste because you've made
this charcoal yourself. Or make a clean and natural fire for cooking
your other foods. Your charcoal will light quickly and you'll be ready
to grill in 15-20 minutes, so you won't have to spend all your time
building the fire.

This is of course the most difficult way to make charcoal, but it's
one of the lost ways that's necessary to learn. Study the video to
make use of the method should you need to survive for a long time
off the land!

How to tell if you've made good charcoal:

  • Good charcoal: When broken apart, good charcoal should
    have the structure of the wood preserved.

  • Bad charcoal: There's really no such thing as bad charcoal,
    but you might not have charcoal ~ you might actually have
    unusable ash. If your charcoal breaks easily then it won't hold
    the heat necessary.

Be sure to store charcoal only after it sufficiently cools.

Happy endings...
Now you know three ways to make charcoal. Have fun but be safe.
It's a useful skill to know how to make charcoal.

The Kindling Cracker
If you need to create kindling for your campfire, wood stove,
fireplace or pizza oven and you don’t want to risk injury by using
an axe, the Kindling Cracker is just what you need. Built in
Australia with an award-winning, patented design, it's the safer,
faster and easier way to make the best kindling for your fire. Right
is a safe and easy way to make kindling with no moving blade or
sharpened object passing by your hands

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Kindling Cracker
Kindling Cracker
Make your own charcoal
Grill Gloves
Empty Paint Cans
Above, King of Random shares the paint can method of making your own
charcoal with paint stir sticks.

To make charcoal with the King of Random you'll need:
  • Paint cans.
  • Stir sticks.
  • Screwdriver or sharp pointy rock
  • Logs to build a fire and a matches.
  • Fire tongs. Fire tongs will help you move wood from one side
    of your fire to the other and in the case of making charcoal in
    small paint cans, help you get them out of the fire.

#2: Burn barrel charcoal method.
On the homestead its easy to make charcoal. Likely you already
have a burn barrel, if not, get one! To make charcoal on the
homestead, get out your
welding gloves, and pay attention to
Worm Gitter below...
How to make your own charcoal!

How to make charcoal
You can make clean burning charcoal at home. Lump charcoal is a
carbon fuel that burns hotter than wood in its natural state. This
nearly pure carbon fuel burns clean and much more efficiently
than wood ~ and all without smoke and also with less flame.

This do-it-yourself prepper project will take time, but it's worth it
to make charcoal and it's good to know how to make charcoal for
the day when stores no longer sell charcoal. Your homemade
charcoal  will be great for grilling meat and poultry and for
smoking meats, fish and vegetables. Charcoal has medicinal value
as well and is necessary for filtering water. Here's how to make
this clean burning charcoal...

How to Make Charcoal
Making lump charcoal involves burning logs, or large chunks of
hardwood, with minimal oxygen so that what remains is the
purest of the carbon. Wood will "char" and not burn. The beauty
of lump charcoal is that burns clean without smoke. This seems
ironic as this kind of home made charcoal is excellent for smoking
fish and meats.

Incidentally, we weren't kidding about getting out your grill
gloves. Making your own charcoal requires responsibility ~ you
could get seriously burned. Translation: kids don't try this at
home! Try these charcoal projects at your own risk...

Three ways to make charcoal:

#1: Cookie tin or paint can charcoal method.
The easiest way to make charcoal is in small quantities. For
starters try to make charcoal in a small metal container with a lid,
like a cookie tin or an empty paint can.

Below, the King Of Random shows you how to make charcoal
using stir sticks and paint cans. Do yourself a favor and don't use
paint cans that have ever had paint in them! This will avoid the
unhealthy paint fumes. You can buy empty paint cans very easily
online or at your local Home Depot. When you're there, be sure to
pick up the paint stir sticks!
Fire tongs
Above Worm Gitter shares his down home method of making charcoal from
a burn barrel.

#3: Bushcraft Mound Method.
Want to step up your game on making charcoal from scratch?
Then you'll want to pay close attention to the bushcraft "mound
method" of making charcoal. This is how our forefathers made

Below Primitive Technology makes a fresh batch of charcoal using
the mound method. We noted he did it barefooted and
barehanded, but we suggest you gear up for safety!
Galvanized lidded trash can
Weber Chimney Starter
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Prepping supplies - Nitrile gloves