There are three basic stages in making charcoal: charring, shaping, and bagging. Charring involves wood, bones, or other carbon-rich materials being dried and subjected to extreme heat (450° – 510° C). These materials are placed either in a kiln or a continuously fed furnace called a “retort.” The second stage involves breaking the charcoal down to smaller pieces. But before doing so, the char is mixed with other ingredients, such as starch binder like wheat. Lastly, they are bagged in preparation for being sold at stores.
Charcoal is formed by burning wood, but stopping the burning before the wood is burned completely and turns to ash. You can make your own charcoal by burning pieces of wood in a trash can or a drum (not the musical kind, the kind you see oil in, but make sure there hasn’t been oil in it or it’s all cleaned out)(make sure you have a lid!). You start the fire going, throw in the wood, and let it burn. When the smoke coming from the fire turns from white to a slight bluish color, cover up the can to stop the flow of oxygen. The fire will die down, and then you just let the charcoal cool off.
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