Current atmospheric CO2 level: ... parts per million

Burn some brush…

If you have a yard – any size yard – then you have yard waste. Fallen branches, pruned limbs, hedge clippings, grass cuttings, nuisance vines, etc. And you’ve probably stacked it all in a pile somewhere hoping it would somehow melt away, just like the leaves do. But it doesn’t. And after a couple of years your brush pile may get so big you are faced with the need to finally do something about it. Your options are:

  1. Haul it to the local dump – big bother, may be dumping costs
  2. Pay someone to haul it to the dump – big cost – $100-$500
  3. Keep hoping it will melt away – right…
  4. Burn it (in the open, as a pile) – dangerous, probably illegal
  5. Burn it in a CharCone – BEST OPTION – smokeless, contained fire, cooking option addresses most local burn ordinances
From thisNeed to get rid of this?
brush loading600Don't want to haul it away or pay someone else to do it?
charcone flame600Then burn it in a CharCone. With a smokless fire. Anytime of year.

Make some charcoal?…

Yes! You can turn your brush pile into high-quality natural lump charcoal (not cheap, artificial briquettes) that can sell for up to $1/lb.

This is what the CharCone was designed to do. By prepping the wood correctly and using a simple technique of building and maintaining the fire, you can create a coneful of charcoal (20-30 lbs.) instead of a small pile of ashes. You can use the charcoal for your next barbecue or process it in a more earth-friendly manner.

ko

thumb raft1. Light the "raft" to get started,
charcone flame6002. Add only one layer at a time. The flame stays on top, the wood below cooks but doesn't "burn"
quenching13. Two hours later: 10 -15 gallons of natural lump charcoal.

Cook some food…

While you are burning your brush feeding the fire and making your charcoal, you can also be cooking. Cooking while you’re burning has these three benefits:

  1. Makes good use of all the heat being created
  2. Satisfies most local burn ordinances – “if your cooking, you’re not (technically) burning”
  3. Oh, and, gives you some delicious grilled or roasted food!

You can use a stick from the brush pile and roast a marshmallow or hot dog or you can get fancy and use any of the accessories we recommended or sell. It’s not so easy cooking with the CharCone – you will be always busy adding wood and the fire gets very hot – but if you can manage, it makes the cooking all the more fun.

Check out the videos and pictures below for some suggestions on how to cook with the CharCone.

basket1Hot dogs or marsmallows on stick work just fine.
grill1Optional swing-out grill makes things easy and safe.
auspit1Get fancy with an adjustable rotisserie attachment.

SAVE THE PLANET

Can you use the CharCone to burn your brush (and other waste wood debris), cook your dinner, make some charcoal,  and SAVE THE PLANET?

YES! (really) Here’s how: THE CHARCOAL

Charcoal, if made right, is almost pure carbon (C). The wood you burned came from trees or other forms of woody plant. The trees sucked some CO2 (carbon dioxide – the greenhouse gas that is causing global warming) out of the air (a good thing), broke off the O2 (oxygen) and gave it to us to breathe. It took the C (carbon) that was left over and stored it (well 50% of it anyway) in its roots, trunk, leaves, etc. There it remained, sequestered (offline), until it ended up in your brush pile.

biochar-chartWhen you burn it, 50% of that carbon combines with the oxygen in the air and reforms into CO2 and goes back up into the atmosphere (a bad thing). However, THE SAME THING WILL HAPPEN EVENTUALLY WHEN THE WOOD ROTS. It may take a couple or ten years but it then ALL of the sequestered carbon in your brush will degrade to CO2 and return to the atmosphere.

So here’s the thing: if we make charcoal while we burn, we can retain and stabilize (it will never re-form into CO2) up to 50% of the original carbon in the wood. That represents over 20% of the original CO2 that the tree had sucked out of the air. If we then bury it (or in some other way permanently sequester it), we in effect “uncycle” that carbon from the atmosphere.

Theoretically, if we do this on a large enough scale (100,000 CharCones?), then we could make a significant dent in the excess CO2 that is responsible for climate change.

Every little bit helps, though:

For every 10 gallons of charcoal you make  (about a burn’s worth) you remove from the atmosphere 60 lbs. of CO2e – the equivalent of replacing one 75 watt incandescent bulb with a 19 watt CFL.

So, as far as charcoal goes – BURY IT, DON’T BURN IT!

Oh, and by the way, when you make charcoal with the intention of sequestering it, prepare it properly and then put it in soil, it’s then called BIOCHAR.

And if all of this doesn’t seem crazy enough, here’s something else that’s sounds too good to be true:

Adding biochar to your garden or potting soil will not only fully sequester it, but make will your plants grow much better by creating a stronger, more resilient and absorbent soil.

 

hugh-coverClick the button below to see Dr. Hugh McLaughlin's excellent presentation of biochar and the carbon cycle.
biochar-compoostAlso known as "terra preta", biochar mixed with soil was the secret to a lost Amazonian civilization. Click thebutton for the story.
biochar testMake your own test. All you need is some biochar and a small garden.