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Woodworks

Charcoal quality

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Just got this Email after asking for feedback on our charcoal.

 

"Essentially I’ve found that most standard retail charcoal, even Big Green Egg charcoal that claims to be the best with a price tag to match, is very woody and only partly combusted, which gives it an unpleasant burn, produces more flame for less heat, and eventually more ash. Your charcoal lights very easily and relights easily after being snuffed out. It burns very cleanly and gives a very controllable heat (particularly when I need it to be quite low and to burn for a long time), and a very high heat when required. I did three pork shoulders on Sunday, using less than a single bag, I lit the Egg at 10:00am, and eventually put it out at 9:00pm having held it at C110, and there was still more charcoal left at the end."

 

I can live with that but is there much difference between retort charcoal and ring kiln charcoal? 

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Where are you based WW and how much you charging?
Interested in buying decent charcoal for the summer

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Out just past Yelverton. £5 for a 2kg bag or you can get it in the Lifton and Lidford farm shops. PM me if want to come and pick some up 

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I don't think there much difference between the 2 kilns apart from the way they burn, you might get a slightly better value charcoal from a retort due to the no air getting in and less smoke of course.

I use to use a ring kiln and sell it for £7.50 a 2kg bag, but haven't done it for years now.

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Out just past Yelverton. £5 for a 2kg bag or you can get it in the Lifton and Lidford farm shops. PM me if want to come and pick some up 

Nice one! I prefer to use local product.
Is that £5/2kg same price from you and Lifton?
Do you do bigger bags direct?
Cheers Craig

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3 hours ago, Ian Leach said:

I don't think there much difference between the 2 kilns apart from the way they burn, you might get a slightly better value charcoal from a retort due to the no air getting in and less smoke of course.

I use to use a ring kiln and sell it for £7.50 a 2kg bag, but haven't done it for years now.

Thanks Ian. Yes I cant see why it should be very different but I think my retort probably gets it hotter than some systems. Not clear if hotter makes it very different to use.

 

£7.50 for 2kg is good going and that's what you get not retail price in a shop?

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The advantage of the charcoal retort over a ring kiln is the conversion ratio which is about 3.5 - 4:1 depending on species and the burn time which is 8 - 10hrs depending on species and moisture content.

I grade my charcoal over a 12.5mm screen which gives a varied lump size, as well as reducing the dust content. Most of my mixed and single species charcoals are in 6kg stitched bags, the only exception is Cherry which is sold in 3kg - sold in multiples of 4x 3kg bags for £48.

More info can be found here...
www.stagbritishcharcoal.co.uk

Matt

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5 hours ago, Woodworks said:

Thanks Ian. Yes I cant see why it should be very different but I think my retort probably gets it hotter than some systems. Not clear if hotter makes it very different to use.

 

£7.50 for 2kg is good going and that's what you get not retail price in a shop?

I think you'll get a better calorific value in a retort as a more even burn, so your charcoal would produce less smoke and burn better than a ring.  Yes that price is what iwould get, we also sold to some old school blacksmiths to as it would burn hotter that the crappy imported stuff.

Miss doing it, but moved on to other things.  Do you find different wood produce better charcoal.

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11 hours ago, Woodworks said:

Not clear if hotter makes it very different to use.

Hotter drives off more volatiles and increases the fixed carbon content. So hotter means less yield but higher carbon content. Carbon has a higher calorific content per kg than wood.

 

Retorts tend to self limit their temperature because the process goes back to endothermic above about 440C as the structure of the char matrix begins to change and  most of the evolution of the hydrogen and oxygen containing species has finished so the exothermic reactions of the initial pyrolysis products splitting and cracking has finished.

 

Char from the centre of a traditional burn is subject to higher temperatures as it is in direct contact with the combustion process.

 

I'm not sure where most imports come from but in those urban areas in countries that still depend on charcoal for cooking our sort of easy lighting , flaming barbecue charcoal is not acceptable because flames mean lots of volatiles still present, so they want denser harder charcoal that burns with a flameless, smokeless heat.

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