Emulating Binchotan Charcoal- Black Locust?

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Bert2368

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I have a ton of black locust growing on our property and intend to remove some for reforestation with white oak species (white oaks are native and better for wildlife food, the black locust is an invasive species here which few animals can eat).

Black locust is a nasty, thorny shrub as a sapling, a bit more tolerable as a larger tree with fewer thorns when large, probably none that could rip you up within reach of the ground. It's got denser wood than North American white oak (Quercus alba), makes great coals, doesn't smell bad when burned as properly seasoned fire wood and makes little smoke when so burned.

Has anyone tried using this species in the binchotan charcoal making process and grill?
 
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Bert2368

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I haven't but I'm eager to see you pack it in a steel barrel and light a fire around it
From my reading, I need to blow live steam through the charcoal retort as well?

I have made several types of specialty charcoal before, usually with the desired result being FASTER burn, while making propellant grade black powder- Plus a few varieties intended to make long hanging gold sparks, such as white pine. I've even calcined lamp black to get ALL the oily contaminants out, or it makes dim gold sparks that burn so long they hit the ground and start fires.

Fire is our friend! Except when it isn't.
 

deltaplex

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I think you just need minimal venting to let the steam out an not allow much oxygen in.
 
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From my reading, I need to blow live steam through the charcoal retort as well?

I have made several types of specialty charcoal before, usually with the desired result being FASTER burn, while making propellant grade black powder- Plus a few varieties intended to make long hanging gold sparks, such as white pine. I've even calcined lamp black to get ALL the oily contaminants out, or it makes dim gold sparks that burn so long they hit the ground and start fires.

Fire is our friend! Except when it isn't.
I too have made many varieties of charcoal for fireworks purposes... Fireworks does not always mean propellant, and in fact mostly means visual effects. So to produce many different effects, multiple types of woods can be used to produce charcoal.. Of course then there are the varieties of woods which produce good propellant . So what comes to mind for visual are various types of hardwood, mesquite, white oak, locust, and other more obscure hardwoods , mostly common in Texas .Also visual, pine, as mentioned and used in Japanese fireworks.
For propellant, willow, hackberry, magnolia, European dog wood, which is a common shrub/tree along roads in Michigan, soft maple, and then on a totally experimental basis tooth ache tree, and many of the above woods which have been attacked by fungus...The fungus changes the structure of the wood, and in some cases affects the burning.
 

Bert2368

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Reading and re reading articles describing the Japanese traditional process, correlating it with what I think I know about charcoal from chemistry & chemical engineering... I am not a traditional craftsman with a cultural heritage to preserve. I am interested in the END PRODUCT. My fingers twitch and I want to understand the physics and chemistry, then RATIONALIZE the process.

This article re: The desired wood AND the fuel woods used to "cook" it are placed in the same oven, the oak in a tight bundle with straightened branches all vertically oriented and somehow they get the fuel woods burning but don't burn the charcoal producing wood? How about a PICTURE of the fuel wood being so arranged?

The idea of stacking the two materials in the same oven so one is consumed and the other only coaled is cool. I've seen how the variations with fuels and ore getting stacked into primitive/traditional Iron reduction furnaces affect the output, certainly an experienced old charcoal burner will know how to best place materials to conduct his burns. Those famous dudes reducing Iron sand into crude Iron bits and then making wrought Iron, steel and finally, knives & swords would have got NOWHERE without that humble charcoal burner.

This business of removing the charcoal while hot & smothering the material in sand? Claims that just shutting down air flow into the oven WON'T EXTINGUISH IT, the desired charcoal will all just burn up?! All THAT means to me is that the oven isn't very air tight. Why not just go to a steel retort and close the vents?

The description of long, high temperature cooking and claims of final product being 95% Carbon vs. a claimed 70 ish % Carbon for other charcoals?

Fast propellant calls for minimally cooked charcoals, some late 19th century black powders optimized for large naval guns even specified brown, "partially cooked" straw charcoal as in "cocoa" powders. Cheap cooking/heating lump charcoal would not be cooked any longer than necessary to get it to "look like charcoal", process time and fuel used would be kept as low as possible. I've certainly found less than completely cooked pieces of wood in the USA made stuff I've used.

What is described here would produce charcoal consisting mostly of Carbon and "ash", the 5% non Carbon content is congruent with the Calcium, Potassium and Sodium carbonate plus any phosphates & minor trace elements which make up hard wood ash. This has been pretty well known since some of the earliest chemists did quantitative analysis on the results of wood burning...

 
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Very nice article... However, I used a hybrid process from a Shimizu book on fireworks in which he describes how charcoal is made for fireworks.. Some of the materials are hemp stems, which supposedly makes a very nice fast powder. They used the same technique for the display charcoals I referred to in my last post. I made mine in 55 gallon barrels with an open top, and a removeable lid.. A metal band approximately 1 foot long around the bottom 1/2 of the vertical part of the barrel, and drilled 3- 2" diameter holes through both the band and the barrel.. Cut the wood of choice a little less than 1/2 the height of the barrel, and after placing a little kindling into the middle bottom of the barrel, stack the wood as tightly as possible in two layers into the barrel.. Light through one of the 2" holes, and once the flames start coming out of the barrel, slide the metal band around to occlude the holes. Once the flames start out of the barrel again, put the lid on and leave about 4" gap on one side. Watch the barrel, and with welding gloves shake the barrel about once an hour. The smoke will be grey, white and voluminous...After a few hours , the smoke will start to look blue. Shake the barrel vigorously once more, place the lid 2" from the side, and once the smoke turns blue again, place the lid on with the locking ring...Assuming your holes near the bottom are pretty well covered, the charcoal will be out and the barrel cool the next morning.
I have used an RTD, and digital reader to measure the best charring temp, and for powder, the best, as Bert says, is fairly low, about 300c for good reactivity. Really for most decorative effects, I pretty much use the same temp.
I pour the charcoal out onto a tarp, with a box fan behind the charcoal water fall, and that gets rid of most of the ash.
I once while in Mo. on a turkey hunt visited the giant charcoal kilns in Licking, Mo. and they did basically the same thing, but in concrete rooms with steel doors, and chimneys. Say 200x200 feetx10feet tall...Backed trucks in with hickory, and oak say up to 6" diameter.. Packed in tightly. lit in the center, and controlled the draft.
 

Bert2368

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There is a LOT of information here- If you can figure out what you are seeing. No dialogue, no subtitles, you get what you get-

In particular: If that clock is in field of view, note the time? And next time, the elapsed time???

@47:00, the experienced looking gentleman who wafts a bit of smoke towards his face from upper vent opening and clearly MAKES A DECISION based on the quality of that smoke? Love to pick HIS brain.

Also: Shop cat doesn't give a damn. A constant across all shops and cultures.

 
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