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View Full Version : Homemade Oak Lump



tomshoots
07-14-2011, 03:12 PM
I've been wanting to try this for over a year now since I saw fishfire's thread: http://www.theqjoint.com/forum/showthread.php?6222-Made-my-own-lump&highlight=made+lump. And instructions on the Naked Whiz site. Both call for making a kiln out of a big drum and a small drum. Small (30gal) goes inside the big(55 gal). Both call for lots of hardwood.

The hardwood is easy to come by at the Shoots' place. I got oak all over the place. And a 55 gal, heck I've had one sittin' here rusting for two years. What I can't find is a 30 gal. drum at a reasonable price (like free). I don't want to spend a buncha money on something to burn in. I'm tryin' to make charcoal to save money.

Well I did some more lookin' around on the web and found this site for makin' lump with just one drum. Cool!

http://www.saveourskills.com/lump-charcoal

Read the notes and watched the videos and decided to give it a shot.

So here's how it went:

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1315.jpg

Here's the drum with holes I made in the bottom.

Then I dug a shallow pit big enough that when the drum was placed over it, the holes would not be covered with earth. Also I dug a short channel from one edge of the pit for an air intake.

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1316.jpg

Then I went and hacked up some oak.

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1317.jpg

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1318.jpg

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1321.jpg

Next, I placed the drum over the pit leaving the air intake channel open. Also I packed dirt around the bottom seam of the drum to prevent any air from getting in except by the channel.

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1319.jpg

Then built a small fire in the barrel using smaller sticks for kindling.

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1322.jpg

A few minutes after this pic, I piled the oak chunks on top. I did it quickly so as not to light the whole mess on fire. All those chunks sort of smothered the fire enough to keep it from blazing, but not put it out. Then put the lid on kinda crooked so as to let out smoke.

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1323.jpg

And man, was there a lot of thick white smoke!

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1324.jpg

Jeeze, I hope I don't get busted! There is a burn ban here. But I knew I could do this safely, and it would be contained. That much smoke made me nervous. Somebody might report me.

Anyway, this white smoke deal was supposed to last 2-3 hours. Then it would subside and turn more blue. That's your cue that the chunks are starting to burn, so you close it all up for 18 hrs. or so. Mine lasted just over an hour. I approached the drum and heard the crackle inside so I shut 'er down.

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1326.jpg

Put dirt into the channel, and bolted the ring in place.

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1325.jpg

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1327.jpg

Well, now it's just a waiting game. The worst thing I could do at this point is to open the drum while there is any heat at all left inside. Getting air in there would cause it all to catch fire. We don't want to burn it all before it turns to coal. I'm gonna be patient and wait at least 18 hrs or so. The guy in the vid waited 24. We'll see.

Well thanks for stoppin' by. Wish me luck and come see me tomorrow afternoon!

BluDawg
07-14-2011, 03:55 PM
I saw that video awhile ago if you have luck with this I am gonna follow you down the trail.

Buzzwinder
07-14-2011, 06:59 PM
I've been wanting to try since the video myself but we can't burn here at all untill November for 1 day and them April for 1 day! Looks like you will have some great lump by the size of those chunks! Looking forward to finnished pix! :cheers2:

SmokyOkie
07-14-2011, 09:35 PM
Pretty cool Tom. If it works out good can you send me a pallet or two of it?



I've been wanting to try since the video myself but we can't burn here at all untill November for 1 day and them April for 1 day! Looks like you will have some great lump by the size of those chunks! Looking forward to finnished pix! :cheers2:

Local burning ordinance?

oaksmoke
07-14-2011, 09:51 PM
This proves you are a Q'oholic! Looking forward to the rest of story.:thumbs up:

Fatback Joe
07-15-2011, 06:56 AM
Thanks for sharing the pics and the process. Can't wait to see the finished results.

It looks so damn easy I might have to try it too.

tomshoots
07-15-2011, 08:11 AM
Thanks for sharing the pics and the process. Can't wait to see the finished results.

It looks so damn easy I might have to try it too.

It's very simple. The worst part is makin' chunks out of logs. Even in the morning shade I sweated my azz off. Sure miss havin' that teenage boy around!

Fatback Joe
07-15-2011, 09:15 AM
It's very simple. The worst part is makin' chunks out of logs. Even in the morning shade I sweated my azz off. Sure miss havin' that teenage boy around!


I just happen to have a teenage boy. :msn-wink:

Fish-fire
07-15-2011, 10:03 AM
That looks good will be nice to see how much that you get. I still make all my own lump It is cheap but it does take alot of time. And maybe that because of the way that I do it this way looks much easier.

Uncanney
07-15-2011, 02:25 PM
I'm anxious to see the outcome on this.

Buzzwinder
07-15-2011, 04:10 PM
Pretty cool Tom. If it works out good can you send me a pallet or two of it?




Local burning ordinance?

Yes Tim, it's a local ordinance that stinks because people two blocks away can burn anything and any time they wish! I live kinda on the edge of the community so I'm at the mercy of the Fire Marshal when it comes to burning, never a problem with the drum smoking away or the small fire box on the patio but let some thick smoke roll and here come the boyz with a ticket!

tomshoots
07-15-2011, 04:10 PM
I just happen to have a teenage boy. :msn-wink:


Cool! Mind if I borrow him for a few hours?:roflmaoha0:

tomshoots
07-15-2011, 04:57 PM
OK folks here's an update. I opened the drum this afternoon and got a whiff of the usual lump smell. Good sign I thought. This is what I saw inside.

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1331.jpg

Cool! Looks like lump charcoal alright. I reached in and picked up a few pieces for closer examination. I was struck by how light it was. Way less density than my usual. Also more delicate and brittle.

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1332.jpg

Here's a shot of one of those Kingsford Kaddy's full of my homemade charcoal. The rest had to go in this:

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1333.jpg

...a 20lb Lazzarri bag that I emptied into another mesquite lump bag.

The Kaddy holds 18-20 lbs of charcoal. But as I mentioned this stuff is lighter. So I'm guesstimating about 20 lb total yield from about half a drums worth of oak chunks.

The low density makes me think this will have a shorter burn than what I usually get. We'll see.

Why is it lighter? Well I noticed while I was processing chunks, some of the wood was lighter due to rot. I tried to reject as much of this as I could. But some probly got in there. I took wood from this particular pile because I knew it was very well seasoned. I have more that is "newer." It might give better results.

Anyway, let's see how this stuff works. Stay tuned, 'cause it's Friday! Anybody know what that means?

Uncanney
07-15-2011, 05:26 PM
At least you didn't open the drum up and find a pile of ashes.

Fish-fire
07-15-2011, 11:28 PM
Looks good I have found that the hotter that the fire gets has something to do with how the lump turns out. The way that I do it with the 30 gallon drum if the fire burns to fast I will get a lot of wood that did not get all the way burnt off. And if the fire burns to slow I have less lump and it is light and brittle.

tomshoots
07-16-2011, 07:34 AM
Looks good I have found that the hotter that the fire gets has something to do with how the lump turns out. The way that I do it with the 30 gallon drum if the fire burns to fast I will get a lot of wood that did not get all the way burnt off. And if the fire burns to slow I have less lump and it is light and brittle.


So maybe I should try again with a hotter fire for a faster burn. I'm thinking maybe bigger chunks too. Heck it would be less work to bust up the lump than hackin' all that wood.

Thanks for the tip Fish.

tomshoots
07-16-2011, 09:18 AM
Well, let's try it! I wanted to cook some of these chuck eyes.

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1334.jpg

I poured a fair amount into the kettle and placed my electric starter in place. Then I went inside. Mrs. shoots had asked me to help change sheets on the bed.

Once that was done, I went to the kitchen to pour myself a cocktail. I assumed I had time for that before the fire would be ready. But I glanced out the window to see that the coals were already white! Lot's of flame too! I was sure this stuff would burn fast but that fire was ready in less than 10 minutes! :shrug: Better get cookin'!

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1335.jpg

On the grill. Fire was way hot! Seared both side really fast. I knew they were still red inside so I set off for a little indirect cookin'

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1336.jpg

At this point, I would usually have a chunk of smoke wood in there for flavor, but I left it out this time just to see what flavor the charcoal alone would give.

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1337.jpg

Sheesh! Done already, in less time than it would normally take JUST to light a fire!

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1338.jpg

Mmmmm...

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx27/tomshoots/IMG_1339.jpg

With roasted tater salad and fresh sweet 'loupe(not pictured)

Deelish!!:thumbs up::thumbs up::thumbs up:

Well in conclusion, I'd have to say this was not a complete success, but still a success. The charcoal gave my steaks a great flavor, just slightly smokey. It's great for fast grilling, ready to cook on VERY quickly. Something Mama will appreciate when she comes home hungry and Tom's late gettin' dinner started!:smack:

However, I don't believe it's gonna be worth a chit in the drum. Clearly it will burn too fast for low and slow smoking, and probly be difficult to control temps.

It's been an interesting experience, and I'd like to try again. Experiment with more and bigger chunks, more or less fire etc.

Anyway, hope y'all enjoyed. Thank's for checkin' in!

PigCicles
07-16-2011, 09:42 AM
:wow: I'd eat a whole heap of your steaks Tom! Those look great :Drool2:

I wonder if you came up with a thermo to check the temp of the barrel before / during your process if that would help. I also have to think that the charcoal places probably don't "age" their wood before burning it to charcoal so I'd say moisture content of the wood prior to burning has a lot to do with the final product too.

Keep trying and fill us in with what you come up with buster.

Great job and thanks for sharing it with us.

tomshoots
07-16-2011, 10:02 AM
:wow: I'd eat a whole heap of your steaks Tom! Those look great :Drool2:

I wonder if you came up with a thermo to check the temp of the barrel before / during your process if that would help. I also have to think that the charcoal places probably don't "age" their wood before burning it to charcoal so I'd say moisture content of the wood prior to burning has a lot to do with the final product too.

Keep trying and fill us in with what you come up with buster.

Great job and thanks for sharing it with us.

Hadn't thought of using a thermo, but don't know what temp it should be anyway. But you're probably right about the moisture content. That's why I want to try some more recently cut wood.

Vermin99
07-16-2011, 10:54 AM
Some fine looking steaks!!!!

Fish-fire
07-16-2011, 12:39 PM
When you use green wood it does take more time because you have to get all the moisture burnt off. I have not had any problems with long cooks and the temps hold steady. Put some in the drum and try it will work good.

Sent from my Droid using Tapatalk

lazy
07-16-2011, 05:33 PM
Thanks for the great pictorial. I've been reading on this myself trying to decide if it's worth trying to do a time or two.

You mentioned having access to hardwood. It's been mentioned a time or two in what I've found, that when making your own lump this way, hardwood isn't required. One post (which I've been trying to find again--forgot to bookmark it) went so far as to say that any wood (even pine) would work, as the resin or whatever we don't normally want burns off in the process of turning it charcoal.

Anybody have any experience with this idea?

lazy
07-16-2011, 08:07 PM
:blushing:Think I answered my own question. Digging around the web, the only references I can now find to using pine is on blacksmithing & fireworks sites...:shrug:

SmokyOkie
07-16-2011, 10:48 PM
Why is it lighter?


My guess is that you burnt it a little more than you needed to in order to render it to charcoal. Charcoal is nothing more than partially burnt wood. there are many degrees of this possible.

tomshoots
07-17-2011, 07:00 AM
My guess is that you burnt it a little more than you needed to in order to render it to charcoal. Charcoal is nothing more than partially burnt wood. there are many degrees of this possible.

That's a possibility Tim, I want to try again with bigger chunks and more of them, The video says it takes 2-3 hrs for it to gas off i.e. white smoke. Mine only took one. Maybe a better fire/wood ratio would give me better results.