Charcoal making indirect method tested by Chuck_050382

Making charcoal with 55 gal oil drum

This test base on 55 gal oil drum but have improved by a big steel cover . It should have the lid to keep the heat higher but at the time take these pictures , Chuck not yet finish it . However , it still works well

After seeing how many people on here cut wood I thought i would share what I have been cutting wood for.

I have been making my own lump charcoal for cooking with. Its a neat process. I use a method called the retort method.

here are some pictures:

this is the charcoal maker, Its a 55 gallon drum with a recirculating pipe. the wood that will converted to charcoal goes in it and get the lid placed on it.

here it is loaded with wood.

You then build a fire around the drum to cook the wood. i could take 10-15 minutes for the gas come out

As the wood gets heated it releases the gases thst buring wood release which are collected and fed into the fire by the recircuating pipe. This sounds like a blow torch or furnace. this is a close up of the gases coming out of the pipe buring.

here are some shots of the final product.


Here is 1 batch, this is made from a mix of oak and hickory

This is a 50 gallon tub with a little over 2 batches of charcoal in it.


here are some video of the charcoal maker in action

Making charcoal video

Making charocal at night

Making Oak Charcoal in Retort method

Other usefull infos about this test:

A drum full of oak with yield 25-30lbs of charcoal and takes about 4 hours of burn time. I aways start the fire then wait until the next day to empty out the charcoal.

I burn old pallets and other scrapes in the bottom. Right now I split all the wood by hand so it takes a few hours of work to get the wood split to make charcoal. I am planning on making some apple charcoal this spring after i collect apple tree trimmings for a local orchard.

Some questions:

Amazing. So if you use alder, you would have basically alder smoked-whatever (salmon is my favorite)? It gives off the wood flavoring still after being heated like that?

What is the 55 gal drum set inside? 

I watch an Alton Brown espisode where he didnt make the charcoal as you did, but the steaks he cooked he put directly on the chunk charcoal. It was real interesting to see. didnt come out ash covered or anything…


The wood still retains its flavoring component after being converted.

The 55 gallon drum is in an old fuel tank(44″ diameter) I mounted to a old truck frame trailer. Its purpose it to help contain the fire, and some of the heat.


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