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Advice on making charcoal

  1. Apr 11, 2009 #1
    Hi, I am currently making charoal for a (potable) water filter project iam doing. Today I had but pine wood in a tin can and put aluminium foil in the inside and on top as a lid (with a couple of small holes). Problem was, during the thing the holes in the aluminium caught fire, not a problem so much but eventually the aluminium burnt a massive hole when I wasn't looking at it and the charcoal was set alight for maybe a minute or 2 before I cut the oxygen and put it out. I was making charcoal out of largish chucks of wood.

    My question is, taking into account that I was using largish chunks of wood, do you think the batch is any good to keep and use as charcoal in a water filter (after being activated) or do you think I should do it again? I had thrown out all the smaller finer parts of charcoal and pieces of aluminium and kept the solid parts.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 11, 2009 #2


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    Given you aborted the process the chunks may not have fully charred and it wouldn't hurt to redo it given your application.

    You should go down to the building supply or paint store and get an empty unused paint can. These work great for making charcoal. Punch a hole in the lid, load it up and lightly tap the lid down.
  4. Apr 11, 2009 #3
    thanks for the responce! Actually, at the time of the fire in the tin, it had been in the fire for about 50 mins and all the thick chunks that I snapped open were consistantly charred throughout. That wasn't what I was concerned about at all - I was just using the fire from the BBQ and during that time I was preparing the meal so i was kind of "cooking" the charcoal longer than need be. But if your only concern is how charred it is, iam guessing the batch is fine for water filtration then?

    The can is fine as well, its a Milo can (Iam not sure if Americans have milo, so that probably doesn't help but it comes will a metal lid). I just didn't want to bother with wasting the lid by nailing a hole through it and never using it again.
  5. Apr 14, 2009 #4


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    OK sounds good. I was curious as to how you planned to activate the charcoal.
    What's your plan?
  6. Apr 14, 2009 #5
    well, i had initially planned to activate it

    now i realise that for the situation iam planning on using it in (a uni project), activated charcoal would give biased results. No idea why i thought i'd activate it.

    but, i had thought of activating it with a solution of hydrogen peroxide but, would that even work, or just give dissolved carbon monoxide/dioxide in water?

    The only other way I could think of was passing ozone past it while it was trapped in a vacuume cleaner where the outlet and inlet are joined together to recyle the oxygen. Where the temp would increase the longer the thing was running (although the ozone wouldn't last to long under these conditions :wink: )

    cheers mate
  7. Apr 14, 2009 #6
    although i do realise that the aluminium and other traces of metal would decompose the hydrogen peroxide as well - so i guess its not the greatest idea ive ever had
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