Charcoal Retort using 330 gallon oil tank

This charcoal retort method kiln was made by New England School of Metalwork

Charcoal kiln using 330 gallon oil tank
Charcoal kiln using 330 gallon oil tank

A challenge that we face here at the school is the rising cost and difficulty in getting good forging coal. The cost has doubled in the past three years; what hasn’t right? So I had the thought and have been researching and developing plans for building a charcoal retort out of recycled materials. What has developed is quite interesting. With the fabricating abilities of our school we fabricated the retort out of a 330 gallon oil tank, 2 – 100 pound propane tanks, 10 feet of old but good exhaust pipe and some scrap plate and flat stock.

Steel charcoal kiln
Steel charcoal kiln


Our goal is to produce charcoal out of pallets. Maine Oxy Supply Co.; our main benefactor has so many pallets that they actually have to pay some one to get rid of them. We can fire the retort with the pallets as well as using the nail-free clear wood for making charcoal out of, kiln dried hardwood for free. We also made some contacts with the local timber framers who gifted us all of the scrap from their operations, nice solid pine and spruce.               

 Firing fuel                                                             Charcoal Material


The idea behind the retort is to capture the wood-gas produced when the temperature of the wood in the chamber reaches 752 degrees Fahrenheit. This wood gas is then introduced into the furnace, burning gasses to fire the retort itself. Here you can see the horizontal disturbance in the flames, actually the force is so great coming out of the burner tube that it burns over a foot away from the tube.


We are still learning the burn times for various thicknesses of wood and conditions of the day. It is typically taking one hour to bring the chamber to the right temperature and then when the smoke disappears the gassing has started. From then, the one hour mark it fires for another 3 hours eating another 4 or 5 pallets. So in the 4 hour period we can produce 40 pounds of charcoal. We are also studying the burn rates of charcoal verses coke in our forges, we’ll let you know how we make out.

 this charcoal retort method kiln was made by New England School of Metalwork .


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  2. I like to know how to make a charcoal I don’t have a job if I can make hood charcoal and sell it will be better for me in the street and filling station is better than nothing please advice me how to make and I ask anyone how can sponsor me with a room to burn a hood for starting. when I start I m sure I will work very hard I am staying in the farm rural area thanks

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