How to Make Your Own Charcoal At Home

How to Make Your Own Charcoal At Home

Charcoal At Home

Charcoal has been a valuable fuel source for centuries, providing a clean and efficient way to cook food and heat homes. While it’s readily available in stores, making your own charcoal at home using a 55-gallon drum can be a rewarding and sustainable endeavor.

This guide will walk you through the process, emphasizing safety and efficiency.

Materials Needed:

  1. 55-Gallon Drum: Ensure the drum is made of steel, free from any chemical residues. You can find drums at automotive shops, recycling centers, or online.
  2. Drill and Drill Bits: For creating ventilation holes.
  3. Steel Wire: To secure the drum lid.
  4. Hardwood Logs: Use hardwoods like oak, hickory, or maple. Avoid softwoods as they contain resin that can impart undesirable flavors.
  5. Firewood: For the initial burning process.
  6. Safety Gear: Gloves, safety glasses, and a face mask to protect yourself from sparks and fumes.


  1. Select and Prepare the Drum:
    • Choose a drum without any chemical residues to prevent contamination.
    • Clean the drum thoroughly with water and a mild detergent.
    • Remove any plastic or rubber components, ensuring only steel remains.
  2. Create Ventilation Holes:
    • Drill several holes around the bottom of the drum to allow for airflow. These holes will serve as vents during the charcoal-making process.
  3. Prepare the Wood:
    • Cut hardwood logs into manageable sizes, approximately 3-4 inches in length and 1-2 inches in diameter.
  4. Load the Drum:
    • Place the cut wood pieces vertically into the drum, stacking them as tightly as possible without blocking the ventilation holes.
  5. Secure the Lid:
    • Place the lid on the drum and secure it tightly using steel wire. This ensures that the drum is sealed, allowing the wood inside to carbonize properly.
  6. Create Air Inlet:
    • Drill a hole on the top of the drum and insert a metal pipe to act as an air inlet during the burning process.
  7. Set Up the Burn Site:
    • Choose an open area away from structures, trees, and flammable materials.
    • Place the drum on top of a bed of firewood, leaving space underneath for airflow.
  8. Initiate the Burn:
    • Ignite the firewood beneath the drum to start the carbonization process.
    • Once the fire is established, cover the drum with a layer of soil to minimize oxygen intake and reduce the risk of flare-ups.
  9. Monitor the Process:
    • Keep an eye on the drum to ensure a steady, controlled burn.
    • The wood inside will gradually turn into charcoal. This process may take several hours.
  10. Cooling and Collection:
    • Once the burning process is complete, allow the drum to cool completely before opening it.
    • Carefully collect the homemade charcoal, and store it in a dry, airtight container.

Making your own charcoal at home can be a satisfying and sustainable project. By following this step-by-step guide and prioritizing safety, you can produce high-quality charcoal for your cooking and heating needs, all while minimizing your environmental impact.