Uses for charcoal

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tedbeau
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Uses for charcoal

Post by tedbeau » Wed Jul 13, 2016 8:55 am

Not sure where to post this so Mod's please move if you can think of a better place.

I have an electric smoker that I use on the weekends. It makes great smoked turkey and I have used it to make jerky also. As a by-product of the process, I end up with charred smoke chips.

Being a bit or a hoarder I don't like to thro anything away that I can find a use for. It seems to me that the charcoal must have several uses. I started saving the charcoal and putting it in 3 lb cans. I have one and a half filled now so I am looking for ideas on uses for the charcoal.

Right off the bat I figured it would be useful in a home made water filter or in addition to use in a micro filter to help remove any bad taste. I also thought that perhaps the charcoal would be useful in fire making. Another thing I thought of is, it seems to me that I have heard that charcoal can be used medicinally for stomach aches.

Does anyone have other ideas for using charcoal or have any of you tried using it in these applications?

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Re: Uses for charcoal

Post by raptor » Wed Jul 13, 2016 2:38 pm

tedbeau wrote:Not sure where to post this so Mod's please move if you can think of a better place.

I have an electric smoker that I use on the weekends. It makes great smoked turkey and I have used it to make jerky also. As a by-product of the process, I end up with charred smoke chips.

Being a bit or a hoarder I don't like to thro anything away that I can find a use for. It seems to me that the charcoal must have several uses. I started saving the charcoal and putting it in 3 lb cans. I have one and a half filled now so I am looking for ideas on uses for the charcoal.

Right off the bat I figured it would be useful in a home made water filter or in addition to use in a micro filter to help remove any bad taste. I also thought that perhaps the charcoal would be useful in fire making. Another thing I thought of is, it seems to me that I have heard that charcoal can be used medicinally for stomach aches.

Does anyone have other ideas for using charcoal or have any of you tried using it in these applications?

What is the source of the charred material? Wood, coal?

Char is a very crude form of activated carbon. The charring does open up macropores and micropores but generally it is not a true activated carbon which is what you want to filter water and ingest to deal with stomach aches caused by poisoning.

If the initial fuel used to start the fire employed things like starter fluid or other petroleum based fuels that fuel may still be in the char. This further limits what you can do with the char.

Personally I would suggest t simply keep it for the next fire.

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Re: Uses for charcoal

Post by 50 Mission Cap » Wed Jul 13, 2016 6:28 pm

I heat my house exclusively with Ash wood right now. It's called ash for a reason. I end up shoveling out the stove quite often. I end up with a lot of coals in each shovel which get extinguished in the ash can. Viola! Charcoal. Piles of it if I choose to sift it. I can now add Collier to my list of life skills.


Anyway it can be used in the grill, cook with Dutch ovens, but where I used it is in the blacksmiths forge. Most consider it superior to coal. Free, renewable, better. Win win win.

If yours is suitable for that maybe barter if you have enough?

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Re: Uses for charcoal

Post by woodsghost » Wed Jul 13, 2016 6:32 pm

I was going to say "blacksmith's forge" too.
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Re: Uses for charcoal

Post by tedbeau » Thu Jul 14, 2016 3:58 pm

The charcoal is wood chips, purchased for use in a smoker, usually a nut tree or a fruit tree. The different woods add subtle differences to the taste of the smoked meats. I prefer apple for pork and the general consensus is that hickory is best for beef. Most any fruit tree works well for chicken, especially cherry.

Since the wood chips are made for smoking food I doubt there are any chemicals added, I would hope not, and don't know why they would need to add anything.

The chips are heated in a stainless steel tray over an electric heating element in the smoker so again there are no chemicals added. Occasionally there is a slight amount of wood converted to ash if the recipe calls for a higher temperature (above 300 degrees). Usually though the wood chips just turn black and are dried out.

They may not be "Activated" but I think they may do some good as a filter element to remove water taste. I guess the best use for them may just be to add them as kindlingr to a fire. Since the chips are usually then strips about 1/8 or less thick and usually 1/2 to 1 inch long and wide they should make good kindling to help a fire along.

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Re: Uses for charcoal

Post by ineffableone » Thu Jul 14, 2016 4:57 pm

Some uses,

Could be soil amendment for gardens, mixing into a garden or putting in a hole that you plant a tree will help give nutrients to the plants
Decrease smells from compost bin/pile, as well as adding valuable nutrients to the compost as it breaks down charcoal helps decrease odor issues
Powdered it can replace chalk used in a chalk line
You could mix with animal fat (or similar) to make face paint for camo purposes during hunting season
Yes you can use it as part of water filtration, while not as effective as activated carbon, it is still more effective than nothing
As mentioned save it for your next fire
Charcoal can be a helpful dehumidifying agent, if you have areas that get too humid in your home a breathable bag with lumps of charcoal in it will absorb humidity
Odor trapper in your fridge, like baking soda in fridges, your left over charcoal can trap odors in your fridge. Place in a breathable bag and place in a shallow dish in your fridge.
Similarly can be used near cat litter box or other high odor areas
Add a little lump to a vase to keep cut flowers lasting longer
A good replacement for side walk chalk
Add to your driveway rock salt to keep it from clumping and sticking together
Add the dehumidifying effects to a tool box or places where you keep tools that can rust

As you can see lots of good uses. The dehumidifying and odor trapping properties have many possible uses. With a little imagination knowing this you can find lots of creative ways to use that left over.
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Re: Uses for charcoal

Post by Maeklos » Sun Jul 17, 2016 11:16 pm

Good list there, ineffableone. I keep my leftover charcoal from my smoker for quite a few of those reasons, myself: hot-burning fuel for metalworking, eyeblack for cutting down on glare on sunny and/or winter days, moisture absorber, in lieu of a construction pencil when doing woodworking, and fire starting. It's far easier to get a coal going using a burning lens with a lump of charcoal than it is trying to do the same thing with a regular tinder bundle or a piece of uncharred, dry wood. Charcoal also catches a spark from flint and steel quite easily.

But one lesson I've learned is to always keep your charcoal dry. If it gets wet - or even damp - all that delicious carbon loses a lot of its pyrophoric qualities.
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