How to make aether at home
How to make charcoal at home
Fuel becomes a valuable post-SHTF resource and knowing how to store it properly, but also how to make your own will give you an advantage if fuel shortages will spread. Today we are going to learn how to make charcoal at home and why you should be doing it.
Charcoal is wood that has been burned, not burned. The impurities such as tars, oils, alcohols and water have evaporated, leaving only the carbon structure (or the internal structure, if you will). Charring concentrates the calorific value of the wood, creating a cleaner fuel that is lighter, easier to transport and burns without smoke.
Charcoal in its natural form, such as that made in the pit or ox oven, bears little resemblance to its commercial counterpart that is sacked for sale in the local market. Briquettes are made from powdered charcoal that is bonded into the traditional pillow shape with various chemical adhesives. Smoking, lighting problems and characteristic smells are the result of the additives and the density of the briquettes.
Natural charcoal is shiny, black. It retains the shape of its original source of wood, whether coconut shells or pine branches. Charcoal, made from different types of wood, varies in density, but is chemically the same (more than 80 percent carbon, with some water, ash, and a tiny amount of other impurities).
A fuel source with a long history
Until petroleum products became available, charcoal was an important fuel in the United States (for blacksmithing and for domestic and industrial heating). Equally important was the marine storage industry, which took advantage of the byproducts of the process: the pitch, turpentine, and the resins made by cooling and condensing the impurities baked out of the wood.
But charcoal shouldn't be neglected for now. It is easy to make charcoal at home, and because of its high heat content, it is efficient to use and transport. Charcoal fires are very easy to start. Simply place a match under the charcoal with crumpled paper or other light lighting material and blow on the embers for a few seconds. When the paper burns down, the fire is smoke free (due to the purity of the fuel) and will never give away a campsite.
Charcoal was originally made in pits. The method is simple and inexpensive, but the firing is often incomplete and the wood is only partially charred. As with all methods of making charcoal, the air supply must be carefully regulated. Too much oxygen will cause all of the wood to burn. The goal is to burn some wood to burn the rest slowly and evenly.
How to make charcoal at home
First, dig a rectangular pit in solid ground (the size will vary with the amount of charcoal you want to get from the incineration). The hole can be lined with concrete blocks or steel roofing panels if the ground is soft. Lay several pieces of wood of similar diameter (and each as long as the pit) parallel and 18 inches apart on the floor. These stringers ensure air circulation. Then add the wood, tightly packed, over the stringers.
Fill the pit to about 18 inches above the ground. Cover them with a roof made of flattened metal barrels or other sheet steel. This cover should match the dimensions of the hole so that it gradually moves down as the combustion reduces the volume of the cargo. Air leakage is minimized with a layer of sand on top.
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Construct a simple chimney and air inlet on one end, and stack lighting material on top of the wood at the other end of the pit. Ignite with a rag soaked in diesel or kerosene. Plug the chimney and air intake with mud when the smoke disappears (about three days). The pit cools for another 72 hours, because if it is opened during this time it will go up in flames.
Klins for making charcoal at home
Simple charcoal stoves can be made from 55 gallon barrels. Using wood of even size will produce the best results with these simple stoves. Start by cutting a 16-inch diameter hole in the center of a barrel lid.
Next, cut a 20-inch diameter circle out of the top of another barrel. Cut a four-inch hole in the large circle and mount a metal vent pipe on it that will be used as a chimney. Then drill three sets of four holes, each half an inch in diameter, in the sides of the barrel, removing the 16 inch circle.
A set of four holes is made near the bottom, one in the middle, and one near the top of the walls. The four holes are evenly spaced around the barrel. These 12 holes are the air inlets.
To fill the drum, first place a log (about four inches in diameter) vertically in the drum. Remove the log after placing the load of wood around it. Add kindling and a burning rag like the pit method. After the fire gets off to a good start, place the 20 inch circle (with the chimney on it) on the barrel lid.
When the burning turns the charge to red embers in one layer, (check by looking into the holes) plug the holes on that layer with mud. Let the charcoal cool down before opening it. Based on experiments conducted by various home improvement enthusiasts, this modified drum produces a high yield of good quality charcoal that is superior to pit fire.
More elaborate kilns can be made from clay, brick or cement in the traditional beehive shape. Savvy welders can build ovens with separate fire boxes that work like large wood-burning stoves. An airtight furnace is built over a fire box, and the heat completely converts the wood in the furnace (or more precisely, the retort chamber) to charcoal. More information on making the more efficient - and complex - steel or brick kilns can be found online.
Vital uses for charcoal
If you are making charcoal at home, know that it can be used for other necessities as well. It's not just a good source of fuel.
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As a remedy for poisoning
Charcoal has recognized medical uses. As early as 1550 BC The Egyptians recorded the healing properties of charcoal. It absorbs toxins (from antifreeze to drugs) in the stomach. Recent clinical studies suggest that it may also absorb snake venom as well as reduce the activity of some viruses and bacteria in the digestive tract.
When using charcoal to absorb poisons, researchers recommend ingesting five to ten times the amount of charcoal than the poison in the stomach. More is better, so taking about a quarter pound of charcoal is
recommended. The charcoal is finely pulverized (to increase surface area), crushed with a rolling pin-like tool, and then administered as soon as possible after ingesting the poison. You can mix the powder with water to a coarse pulp and sweeten it with honey, sugar and even chocolate. One day, the self-made charcoal shake made from natural charcoal could save your life.
If you make charcoal at home, be sure to put some in your hunting bag. Due to its porous nature, it absorbs body odors from your hunting clothing and makes your presence less noticeable to the prey you are stalking. It can also be rubbed on snares and other traps to blend them into the surrounding area.
In certain survival situations, an infected wound puts your life at risk if left untreated. If you are lucky, the charcoal you have in your survival bag can help save your life. All you have to do is wrap the charcoal in a piece of cloth and attach it to the infected wound. It will help pull the infection out and absorb moisture from the wound. This self-care method should give you enough time to properly treat the wound.
If you are making charcoal at home, consider the benefit of filtering water. It's a great natural resource that can remove dirt, debris, and dangerous contaminants from water. In conjunction with sand and other materials, you can improvise a good water filter.
There are plenty of homemade charcoal and activated charcoal water filters out there that turn disgusting, muddy water into clear drinking water. There are many other survival uses that you should encourage making charcoal at home. From making cement to using it as a remedy for snow blindness and even use in various methods of lighting fires.
Knowing above should help you make charcoal at home without any problems. The various uses for such a natural resource should be enough to convince you to try it out (at least once) and put it on your list of self-sufficiency skills. If you live in an area where wood is in abundance, you should make charcoal at home, it makes sense in a survival situation.
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