How to Make Lump Charcoal Out of Red Oak for Grilling and Forge

In this article, we will explore the process of making lump charcoal out of red oak for grilling and forge. We will discuss the steps involved in building a kiln and cooking the charcoal. Let's get started.

Building the Kiln

The first step in making lump charcoal is to build a kiln. This involves finding a suitable pipe and a 55-gallon drum. The pipe will act as a flange to hold the charcoal, while the drum will serve as the kiln. The pipe is cut to size and welded to the drum to ensure it stays in place during the cooking process.

Preparing the Kiln

Before cooking the charcoal, it is important to burn off any paint or contaminants inside the drum. This can be done by stuffing the drum with sticks and lighting a fire. The paint will burn off, leaving a clean surface for cooking the charcoal.

Packing the Drum

Once the kiln is ready, it's time to pack the drum with red oak. The wood should be packed tightly to ensure even cooking. Pieces of red oak that are about six inches long are ideal for this process. The rim is then placed on the drum to seal it shut and prevent air leakage.

Cooking the Charcoal

The cooking process is divided into two stages. The first stage involves burning off the moisture in the wood, which takes about an hour. This stage is characterized by white smoke coming out of the smokestack. The second stage is to burn off the methane and hydrogen, which takes about two hours. Slow-motion videos of the flames can be captured during this stage.

Checking the Charcoal

After the cooking process is complete, the kiln is left to cool overnight. The next day, the drum is opened to reveal the charcoal. In this case, about 40 pounds of charcoal were produced. The charcoal is then stored in non-scented plastic garbage bags.


Making lump charcoal out of red oak is a simple and rewarding process. It can be used for grilling and in a forge. With the right equipment and materials, anyone can make their own lump charcoal. Give it a try and enjoy the benefits of homemade charcoal.

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