How to make Charcoal [Step by Step Guide]

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Charcoal is an excellent fuel for lighting up your barbecue with a consistent flame and negligible smoke emission. If you are someone who has always been a great fan of smoky flavored food, you must try out the following guide on how to make charcoal lumps so that you can have your favorite grilled veggies or chicken more often.

What’s really in your charcoal?

When talking about charcoal, the first question that comes to our mind is ”How does it even work?” The answer to this question is pretty straightforward. The magical properties of finished charcoal come from its secret ingredients: peat, wood, coconut shells, or petroleum. These ingredients are accumulated together in a way that they start to produce charcoal.

Nowadays, making charcoal has become very famous among people as many of them don’t want to keep buying the same conventional stuff from the store. If you are someone who is thinking of making your own lump charcoal briquettes at home, this article is perfect for you. You can easily make your charcoal with a few basic methods and teachings. Stay tuned if you want to be a part of this charcoal making journey. Let’s dig in!

Step 1

Choose your Wood carefully

The quality of your charcoal mainly depends on the type of wood you choose. It is one of the primary components when it comes to making charcoal. Different types of woods that are perfect for the charcoal production are oak, cherry, or hickory wood. Oak and hickory woods are the two mainstream kinds of wood that can be used for almost everything.

They add a great flavor to large chunks of meat and pork while grilling. If you are unable to get your hands on hickory, then pecan is an excellent substitute for it. Make sure the wood you have chosen is well cured. You can either buy your wood from the store, or you can pick it up from your garden.

Once you have gathered enough wood for your charcoal, you need to cut it into chunks. Use chunks that aren’t too thick or long because they won’t burn properly to make good charcoal. Cut all of the wood you’ll be using into 12-inch-long pieces. Then, when it’s time to cook with them, they’ll fit well into the bottom of your grill or an offset smoker firebox.

Word of Caution

The wood used for making charcoal is pretty strong. If you don’t want to over-smoke your meat, make sure you use the right amount of wood for the right amount of time.

Step 2

Get a Metal Drum

The next step is to get a metal drum. This metal drum is going to be used as equipment to make your charcoal. The size of the metal drum you take depends on the amount of charcoal you want to produce. If you want to make a smaller lump of charcoal, then a tiny drum with less capacity would work quite well. On the other hand, if you use a more prominent drum to make a smaller amount of charcoal, you may end up with low-quality charcoal briquettes. Thus, make sure you select the appropriate size for your requirements.

Always keep your metal container clean because residue from oils or other chemicals added in it could be transmitted to the wood you’re using to make charcoal. It is essential to burn all the pollutants off the interior before starting to make your charcoal. You can skip this step if you have a clean, unused metal drum.

Side note

Make sure your drum has a flame-proof lid.

Step 3

Fill the Metal Drum with the Cured Wood

Now that you have your wooden chunks and the metal drum, you just need to fill your metal drum with those chunks to the top. To begin, fill the bottom of the barrel with hardwood. This shouldn’t be a layer of the hardwood you’re using for your charcoal, but you will need some form of hardwood to make a hot, long-burning fire. Next, put the wood in the barrel’s bottom. You can also use a grill to keep the wood from getting mixed up with the hardwood you’ll be using to start the fire.

You can also use a grill to keep the wood apart from the hardwood you’ll be using to generate your charcoal briquettes, this keeps things in the barrel a little more organized.


Step 4

Locate a safe area for outdoor fire

The following phase entails burning, so make sure you have a safe spot to do it. Make sure there’s nothing in the area that could catch fire because fire can be hazardous. Keep your family and children away from the area where you will be cooking wood.

Step 5

Prepare to light a Bonfire-It’s Burn time

Now that everything is set up completely, it’s finally time to create a bonfire in the shape of a donut so that you could place the metal barrel in between. Make sure you take an ample amount of wood that could burn for 3-5 hours. Once the bonfire is made, you can light it up and let it cook those wood chunks inside the metal barrel. Maintain distance from the burning place.

Step 6

Remove the Metal Lid

You must wait till the time after the campfire has completely burned down in order for it to cool down. When it’s cold enough to handle, open the lid to reveal a trunk full of traditional charcoal. Enjoy your fresh bag of homemade charcoal briquettes, which can be used for charcoal grilling and barbecuing over high heat.

Other Benefits of Charcoal

Along with providing the best smoky meals, charcoal also comes in a different form;  namely : activated charcoal, aka charcoal dust, which provides you with the treatment of many health-related issues like high cholesterol, stomach ache, kidney failure, etc. That is all because of the ingredients present in it. Happy Grilling!

Special offer for our visitors

Get your Charcoal Grill Free Guide

We will never send you spam. By signing up for this you agree with our privacy policy and to receive regular updates via email in regards to industry news and promotions