The Easy Way to Make Your Own Charcoal

The Easy Way to Make Your Own Charcoal

The Easy Way to Make Your Own Charcoal
The Easy Way to Make Your Own Charcoal

It’s summertime, and you probably are using a lot of charcoal to cook on the grill and enjoy fires. Did you know that you can make your charcoal? While the process is a bit lengthy in time, the hands-on time for you isn’t much at all. At the end of your project, you will have a supply of fresh charcoal.

The project works perfectly if you have plenty of trees on your property. Wood is required to make charcoal. However, it is easy to find chopped wood at a local farm and fleet store or ask around! People always have wood available.

Items Required:

  • A 30-gallon steel drum with one sealed end
  • A 55-gallon steel drum with one sealed end
  • Chopped Wood


Creative Commons 2.0 License by Thanwan Singh

1- Before you get started, make sure the firewood you are using is very dry. You don’t want to use moist wood because the project will fail. Also, make sure the firewood is not thicker than 4 inches at any point. 4 inches is the maximum thickness.

2- Take your two steel drums and make sure both have one end that is sealed. Drill holes along the sides on the bottom of the 55-gallon drum.
Pack the 30-gallon steel drum with wood as tightly as you can. You might have to play a bit of Tetris to make as much wood as possible fit. It is like a wood puzzle, but you want it to be tightly packed. That is key!

3- Put the 55-gallon drum over top of the 30-gallon drum, so it covers the firewood. You might need help with the next step, which is to flip the drums over. You want the 55-gallon drum sitting up correctly with the packed 30-gallon drum inside but flipped upside down, still full of wood! The 30-gallon sealed end should face upwards.

4- Next, you want to fill the space between the sides of the drums with wood as well as over the top of the 30-gallon drum. The wood will need to be thinner than 4 inches to fit around the drum. Make sure you put wood on top of the sealed end. Sticks and bark work as well!

5- Start a fire on the wood sitting on top of the 30-gallon drum. Let it burn for a few hours, then put a lid over the top. You want a metal lid. It could be a fitted lid that came with the drum, an upside down steel pail for animal water, or the top of your grill! Whatever works can be used.

6- This process takes time, around 6 to 8 hours. Now, you have to wait! Flip the drum over and unpack the drum containing the packed wood. The wood will now be charcoal!

If you are unable to get enough heat at the bottom of the drum, you can pile wood around the exterior of the bottom too. Heat is required to make the wood turn to charcoal. Be sure to let everything cool before you flip it over unless you have fireproof gloves. Enjoy your homemade charcoal!