Grilling with charcoal is a fav pastime for BBQ lovers as the weather gets warm. While charcoal grilling may not offer extra convenience as gas, it wins our hearts with the outstanding smoke fragrance.
Charcoal is a critical part of this smoke flavor, with a decent smoke output and a reliable burn. If you want to try making charcoal at home, the good news is that the job doesn’t require much effort.
In this thorough guide, Battersby will explain all about how to make charcoal in the easiest way, including five straightforward steps:
- Find the right wood
- Start burning
- Wait for the wood to burn well
- Finish up
- Use your charcoal. And done!
We also answer some common questions about charcoal making and grilling. So, stay tuned for more!
How Do You Make Charcoal?
Producing charcoal using coppiced firewood only takes you an afternoon or so with simply salvaged materials. Homemade charcoal is likely to offer higher quality than store-bought briquettes, whose primary material is compressed sawdust and those burning quickly.
How to make your own charcoal? Basically, charcoal burners make charcoal by burning wood or organic matter in a low-oxygen environment.
That way, they will get rid of water and some volatile elements, enabling the charcoal – the final product – to burn with minimal smoke at very high temperatures.
Find The Materials
The biggest question before you start is, what is charcoal made of? Charcoal can be made of wood or organic matter, like groundnut shells, coconut shells, or dry leaves.
If you want to make lump charcoal, natural wood or hardwoods is the way to go. Some hardwoods, like hickory, beech, or oak, can burn more hotly.
Varieties from these kinds of untreated wood deliver the lump charcoal-like quality that most smoked BBQ fanatics adore.
Besides, if your fav type of charcoal is briquettes, it’ll be ideal to go with timber offcuts or tree bark from hardwoods.
Charcoal burners usually use delicate organic matter and sawdust to produce charcoal dust, which they’ll press into charcoal briquettes to burn.
Some suggested hardwood sources are construction sites (only when you have permission and DON’T take treated lumber), sawmills, and your own hardwood.
It’s always imperative to find the right hardwood to produce authentic charcoal. Softwood is NEVER a brilliant idea as it burns quickly and often won’t last for an extended time enough to grill a smoked hot dog.
Concerning how to make coal, all you essentially need is hardwood, a saw or cutting tool to cut the hardwood, a metal barrel with a lid, and a good area to store your finished charcoal.
You’ll also need to find some minor burning materials to set a fire within the metal drum. It’s necessary to start with a nice fire burn, so get some twigs or branches beforehand.
If your drum contains oil or dangerous fluids, make sure to perform a quick ‘clean-up’ by fast-burning off all residue contaminants or cleaning it out well.
Once your woodcut is ready, start with a small fire in the metal drum and let it burn for a while. Next, you’ll need to spark a relatively stronger fire from the barrel’s bottom before adding hardwood. Let the fire burn well so that you’ll get fine coals and a big flame at the drum’s bottom.
When the fire is going well, it’s time to add your hardwood. A tip to generate the best-finished product is to add one layer of hardwood at a time, then wait for it to catch fire before putting in the next layer.
For instance, if you burn in a 55-gallon metal barrel, you’ll add three layers of hardwood at three times.
Although adding the material this way takes longer, the burning time will be shorter as you don’t need to wait for the fire to work its way up to the wood’s top.
After adding all the untreated woodcuts, let the fire burn until the entire wood is on flame. Letting all hardwood burn thoroughly is vital since it will help eliminate all the gas and volatile elements.
Settle It Down
We can’t tell for sure how long it’ll take to burn the wood charcoal. You have to constantly see how your material is doing. The wood needs to burn until there’s a minor char to it.
Please note, you should burn the wood just enough to remove the gas or its flammable part but leave a necessary amount of wood behind. Or else what are you going to grill with, alright?
Once your hardwood has burnt well and been ready, close the barrel lid. It’s essential to allow the hardwood char completely through as a closed space will let the wood smolder, putting itself out.
Of course, should you expose the fire to some water or wet factors, you’ll ruin the charcoal produced and make a huge mess at the barrel’s bottom.
One more helpful tip for our readers is you’d better start the project in the mid-afternoon. Once your hardwood is ready, close the lid and let the wood smolder entirely overnight.
The next day when you open the lid, you’ll see the fire has gone, and the hardwood has burnt well.
After making sure the fire is totally out, and the barrel has cooled down, put away the lid. Your charcoal is now ready to serve.
If you open the lid when the material has not done smoldering yet, the additional air will reach the embers, starting the burning process again.
Once the lump charcoal cools down, take it out and store it in a receptacle or container. Some people hold their charcoals using sizable plastic totes, whereas others use paper sacks – they’re all good.
Please be all ears; before storing your hardwood, you must make sure it is totally out. Some of you may take it with a pinch of salt, but surely you’ll regret it.
If your material is not evenly out, you’ll ruin the whole batch right after taking it out from the barrel, and it’ll burn up.
The unevenly burnt wood is a failure and poses a fire danger to you and your house. Therefore, please keep this point in mind to make your own charcoal safely.
Use Your Charcoal
So, you have achieved the desired result of the lump charcoal production project. It’s time to invite your buddies and family to come over for an enjoyable cookout. We bet your grilling charcoal and delicious smoky food will wow them.
You can use the product just like ordinary charcoal, but it may not last you an extended time like the briquettes.
Thus, when making your own charcoal, you’d better burn an extra amount of wood to ensure there is enough fuel for a big BBQ party. Also, regularly check if you need to add more charcoal or adjust the cooking times when grilling.
How Long Does Charcoal Last?
The time your charcoal lasts depends mainly on the type of grill and air flow you’re using and the general fire adjustment.
Typically, charcoal briquettes can last somewhere between eight and ten hours, while the average lump charcoal will clock up the burning time of about 4-6 hours.
Does charcoal have an expiry date? If you ask, no, it does not. You can store your charcoal indefinitely. Nevertheless, remember that some chemicals or additives that the charcoal has added may wear off over time, causing it more difficult to light.
The homemade charcoal usually won’t burn as long as regular store-bought charcoal due to the special additives that factories put in these fuels.
However, your DIY charcoal will burn more ‘green’ and cleaner than those from grill tool stores.
Why Does Burning Charcoal Leave So Much Dust?
A question that is as common as how to make charcol is, why does it leave so much dust when burning charcoal? The reason is, as the fuel burns, it gradually breaks down.
Because of charcoal’s brittle nature, together with the entire water disappearing from the hardwood during its establishment, as you light the charcoal, it’ll leave tons of black dust.
To deal with too much dust pumping up excessively in your charcoal grill, always make sure it doesn’t obstruct the airflow between the lumps.
If you have a lot of charcoal dust building up in your grill, be sure to check that it is not obstructing your airflow between your lumps.
However, leftover black dust also has some advantages. Surprisingly, making charcoal briquettes or charcoal pencils with this charcoal by-product is one of its popular uses. If it’s all-natural charcoal fuel, you can spread the dust on the soil in the backyard garden to help with your plants’ growth.
The dry, hotly white charcoal burns the food quickly, delivering a caramelized, crusty exterior and smoky flavor.
True gourmet grill masters understand that knowing how to make charcoal is an essential skill, especially when the nearby store runs out of it.
Also, through home charcoal production, you can learn to adjust the fire, hence excelling at smoked BBQ dishes.
Alright? It’s time to burn!