How To Make Charcoal

how to make charcoal at home

Learning how to make charcoal at home is an easy way to make a product that has multiple uses around the homestead. Below are just a few options for utilizing it.

  1. Fuel
  2. Additive for composting process.
  3. Soil amending.
  4. Homemade gunpowder.
  5. Making activated charcoal for filtration purposes.

Charcoal is mostly pure carbon made by burning wood slowly in a low oxygen setting. We have found the best way for us to make it is by using our mud oven to create the perfect environment.

I first came across this method years ago when watching a documentary about the deforestation in Brazil.

Even though the video was disturbing to me it did give me some ideas on how to make charcoal on a smaller scale as seen below.

First step is to start a fire.

Load up the oven with wood, preferably hardwood for a better quality of charcoal.

While it is burning gather some clay.

And whittle a piece of wood to create a bung.

You want to make sure that all the wood is burning and the smoke has turned a light grey or clear. This shows that a majority of the wood gases have burned off.

Use your clay and bung to close the opening to your mud oven.

Use water to smooth it out and make sure it is set in place firmly to your oven.

Pull out the bung to leave a small opening to allow just enough oxygen to help keep the fire from smoldering out.

I usually let it set twelve to twenty-four hours to give it time for the process to work and to properly cool down.

And that’s all there is to learning how to make charcoal at home. Let us know how it works for you if you try it.


  1. Good stuff.

    I make fireworks, and need charcoal often.
    I use an old keg I cut the top off of.
    I use the old tap receiver as a handle, drilled a couple holes around the handle, and cooked my wood.
    Many uses.

  2. They need to plant Bamboo in the deforested areas and begin making their charcoal from the Bamboo. It’s a hardwood, and grows fast enough that it could conceivably be a sustainable resource preserving the surrounding Amazonian sections that haven’t yet been clear cut.


    Only problem I see is that the way they desolate and abandon the areas they produce charcoal at, that they could end up leaving behind such a massive grove of bamboo, that in their absence, it would take over and effect the ecosystem in unpredictable ways.

  3. I just called a lot of local PUB’s, and left my name, number, and request for unattractive Kegs they may not be able to rent. Just what I need 🙂
    Just make sure they’re stainless steel, and not aluminum.
    You can be tricked by the eye AND the magnet test!