Here's an interesting question: does anyone here know anything about making your own lump charcoal?
I've got access to a friend's farm and also to a good amount of hardwood waste up here (like a ton or so), so I was thinking that it might save me a considerable amount of money to make my own charcoal. I'll be at the farm anyway for a few weekends.
I've messed around with the idea about 15 years ago when I was setting up a methanol still for alternate fuel research. Basically we heated green wood in a sealed 55 gallon drum and distilled methanol and acetone from the wood. What was left over in the drum after we were finished was ash and a fair bit of charcoal, but since we used softwood it wasn't good for anything but stoking the next fire for the still.
The farm owner and I have access to some 55 gallon drums as well as some brick, so we were thinking of giving it a shot. We have a bit of tamarack and maple and a lot of birch, as well as some willow (which needs to be peeled, of cours) and possibly some ash and apple wood. No oak , mesquite or hickory, though- we're too far north to grow it.
Any ideas or links, folks?