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Making BioChar

Prepping the Burn

Prepping the Burn

 I had been researching garden soil additives, when I read about BioChar. Basically, BioChar is made by the “pyrolysis of biomass”, or in other words, it’s what’s left when you cook wood. The idea is to heat the wood up, to the point where all of the internal gasses escape from the wood, and burn up. This leaves only the carbon portion of the wood left. The carbon is not released into the atmosphere, so it is also a good way to Sequester carbon, and help prevent Global Warming.

I read many articles online, as well as a few videos on YouTube, and finally settled on a single barrel design. The barrel was filled with sticks and old pieces of wood from around the farm, and I piled up fuel around the barrel. The photo above shows the barrel before it was sealed shut. Keep in mind that there must be holes in the barrel for the gasses to escape, or you will be in some trouble !

After a few hours, the fire was going pretty good, and the wood in the barrel was giving off flamable gases. The gases escape through the holes I made in the top of the barrel, as shown below.

Cooking the Biomass

Cooking the Biomass

 Watching the fire cook the barrel for the first time is amazing ! I didn’t expect the gases to push out of the barrel so fast, and the jet of flames was very cool. I was also a bit worried that the barrel would blow up !

When all was said and done, I was left with a small amount of BioChar, which will require Activating.

Finished BioChar

Finished BioChar

Biochar will soak up nutrients, and it may compete with garden plants if not properly applied to the soil. I have made several batches, but I’m not adding it to the garden till this fall, when I will be adding more manure.

Categories: How To's
  1. February 28, 2010 at 9:13 am

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