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rotten wood for charcoal?


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#1 MadMat

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Posted 09 May 2016 - 10:46 AM

Some time ago, on a forum about making charcoal, a question was asked about using green vs. kiln dried vs. even using rotted wood.  After reading that, I simply had to do some tests. I recently tried out some charcoal that was made with willow branches that were semi-rotted. they were at the stage where the bark had all peeled off and the wood was just starting to soften (bigger branched could be broken by hand fairly easy.) The BP made with this charcoal was HOT!

Since I recently made the jump from 2" to 3" shells, I've been doing testing on design variations on 3" can shells. Saturday night, I used my rotten-wood charcoal BP for the lift for a 3" shell. The shell weighed in at 288 grams, so I used 25 grams of powder for the lift. The first thing I noticed was the lift was very loud. Next, I noticed the shell was still in rapid ascent mode when it burst. The time fuse for the shell was approximately 3.5 seconds. The burst pattern looked a bit oval due to the rapid upward motion. The last thing I noticed, my 3" gun was blown apart!

So, you can make really hot BP from charcoal made from "old" wood.


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#2 stix

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Posted 12 May 2016 - 06:37 AM

It would be interesting to do a test with the "same wood" over time - ie. green, dried, rotten. If you've got the time. :lol:

 

Maybe the decomposition plays a beneficial role?


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I just start the conversation - someone else has to question them.


#3 CaverCork

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Posted 12 May 2016 - 11:08 PM

This is good information to know as I have a very large black willow that died down by the lake. I figured it was too late to salvage but apparently not. I foresee my cast iron retort doing some overtime in the dead oak limbs I need to burn. 


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#4 Exo

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 01:43 AM

I have found this to be the case also, the willow I was using had some form of dry rot and it made faster bp than the non rotted willow from the same tree. The rotted willow was very light and feel apart easily in the hand.
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#5 4570

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Posted 28 December 2019 - 02:30 PM

Would the hotter burn be due to possible smaller grain size or something else? I've got a fair amount of willow coming out of the ponds next weekend and wondering if I should save the softer wood

#6 MadMat

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Posted 28 December 2019 - 09:18 PM

I have done a bunch of testing with BP made from semi-rotted vs sound wood of cedar, willow, sumac and even maple. Every time charcoal made from the semi-rotted wood produced faster BP. On average, the BP made from the rotted wood charcoal gave 2

seconds longer flight time on a baseball test. I feel that the charcoal made from semi-rotted wood is softer and more porous allowing a more intimate contact between the components of the BP. The only thing I haven't determined is how rotted the wood can be before there is a reduction (if any) in the quality of the BP.


Edited by MadMat, 28 December 2019 - 09:27 PM.


#7 NeighborJ

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Posted 28 December 2019 - 10:15 PM

There's no question that punky wood makes hotter charcoal. The issue I had with it was determining how rotten is rotten enough then finding a steady supply of that ideally rotten wood. In the end I had results which were too inconsistent from batch to batch so I reverted back to using normal freshly seasoned wood for the sake of consistency.

#8 Arthur

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 04:20 AM

The difference between charcoal and graphite is the microstructure of the timber, graphite/activated carbon makes totally duff BP and charcoal can make OK BP so microstructure is all. If rotting opens the microstructure then it's good, if rotting progresses to losing the microstructure then it is bad. The difficulty -especially in a factory environment is getting a consistently good product so factories chose a type of wood and age of the debarked sticks and hold that consistent to make a reliable powder, it's suggested that some factories keep "too fast" and "too slow" batches of powder and mix them into production to maintain a consistent powder speed.



#9 MadMat

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 03:22 PM

I have posted this before, but, what I have always used as far as "rottedness" is wood that the bark has fallen off of or peels off very easily. The wood itself is still solid but beginning to softening. If you can poke your fingers into it, it is probably too far gone. If you can break branches, by hand without undue effort, that would normally be large enough to be very difficult, it is probably just about right.



#10 Richtee

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 04:20 AM

I know it’s not worth a crap in my Lang BBQ trailer’s firebox :D


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I like smoke! On food or in the air equally well.

#11 mryumyums52

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 10:11 AM

I know this is a dumb question, but what methods are typically used for crushing the charcoal into powder? I'm just starting out,  so far I've made a few batches of BP and I'm in the process of making Tiger Tail.



#12 NeighborJ

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 12:17 PM

I use a flour mill. It's airfloat in 15 seconds.

#13 Arthur

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 12:29 PM

Breaking charcoal out of the kiln is dependent on the product that you want. Always keep some coarse mesh cuts, maybe break them out using a mortar and pestle. The fine cuts can get finer in a ball mill or blade mill. The one thing you can't do with charcoal is make it coarser. Bigger stars and comets use coarser powder for tails.



#14 sparks

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 03:42 PM

Easy charcoal for "tails" can be made from cattail pods....at the end of the growing season just before they "bloom" The BP produces endless fine sparks...great for rocket fuel...75/15/10

The cattail stems make great FREE rocket sticks!!

 

Less messy...no grinding...charcoal can be made from rolled newspaper......used for years...was tired of the mess of grinding wood coal.....crush by hand and add directly to ball mill...very consistent and makes good lift.....

Best I've found for fast BP is made from natural wine corks....


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#15 MadMat

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 04:24 PM

I shopped second hand stores (Good Will ect.) and picked up a couple blenders for around $5-8 each. One is for charcoal and the other is for oxidizers only. I have gone through two charcoal blenders because they are used a lot and the charcoal is rather abrasive, but at the price I paid for them they lasted more than long enough to pay for themselves in saved labor/time.



#16 BetICouldMake1

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 01:23 PM

I know this is a dumb question, but what methods are typically used for crushing the charcoal into powder? I'm just starting out,  so far I've made a few batches of BP and I'm in the process of making Tiger Tail.

 

Depending on the volume you are trying to process and how much you want to spend you can either use or use one of these https://www.ebay.com...g0AAOSwt6RdqSi5

 

 

You can then screen out coarser grades if desired, a short trip in the ball mill will get the remainder to airfloat. If making bp I just use the charcoal straight from the grinder and mill it in with the KNO3 and Sulfur. 



#17 DoodieSmoothie

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Posted 04 April 2020 - 03:09 PM

I can probably try this by finding a fallen pine tree in the woods, but i would need to dry it first. Guess i'll come back in a few weeks.


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#18 royster

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Posted 14 September 2020 - 07:02 AM

Great information.

I wonder if other types of wood that arent ideal will be ideal when rotted.

#19 Richtee

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Posted 14 September 2020 - 06:10 PM

I don’t know really..if it’s so much the wood...or the complete “charcoaling” of it. Best BP I ever made was with a can of newsprint packed tight and cooked off well.


Edited by Richtee, 14 September 2020 - 06:11 PM.

I like smoke! On food or in the air equally well.

#20 Bourbon

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Posted 15 September 2020 - 01:12 PM

Makes me wonder if nudy magz would make HOT powder.






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