How do you manage yard waste with the CharCone? Burn it.

The CharCone was conceived and designed to make charcoal out of yard waste or debris. Inspired by a growing brush pile in my backyard, not having a truck to haul it away with, not wanting to pay to dispose of it, and not being within the small window of time the city gives to open burn it, I looked for a more practical, convenient, and affordable solution.

The Kon-Tiki charcoal kiln gave me the perfect answer. It combined my interest in biochar (sequestered charcoal) and my passion for cooking with the need to clean up my yard. I was able to create the CharCone (my version of the Kon-Tiki), a tool I could use for all three. The toughest part though was cleaning up the yard…

Gathering and preparing feedstock is as important as any step in the charcoal making process.

Feedstock is defined as “raw material to supply or fuel a machine or industrial process”. It is the term that we use for the stuff that we use to make the charcoal. It can theoretically be just about anything that will burn (organic matter) but for our purposes, it mostly refers to wood of some type, woody plants, and other products that originated from trees or plants.

Having the right type, right size and the right amount of feedstock on hand is the foundation of making charcoal.  It may seem like a no-brainer, especially if you have a big brush pile waiting to be burned, but remember, wood reduces to about 1/4-1/5 of its initial weight by becoming charcoal and in terms of volume (of loose brush) about 1/10. So to fill up the CharCone with charcoal (about 15 gallons) you need about 15 cubic feet of brush. That’s over 1/2 of a cubic yard. That’s seven big barrels full, or 20 5 gallon pails, or 4-5 wheelbarrow loads – a lot.

Running out of feedstock is a common problem. You can’t go to the store or call someone up to get more. So planning ahead is essential.