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Source for willow/willow charcoal?


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#1 SamGurdus

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Posted 21 November 2018 - 09:57 AM

It is my understanding that willow is one of the best woods for charcoal for use in black powder. So far I have found one site that sells it. Has anyone bought from there or somewhere else? https://ihaveadotcom...products_id=284



#2 MadMat

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Posted 21 November 2018 - 03:00 PM

My advice, Don't get hyped up on a certain charcoal to the point you spend a lot of time or money. There are many types of wood that make perfectly fine charcoal for BP. There was a thread on this forum once, where a member, who apparently did extensive research into making BP, said that the method used in making the BP is way more important that the fine differences between types of charcoal. I can truly agree with this member as I have the luck of having willow trees near the edge of my farm and I also have an abundance of cedar growing around here (it is said that if you scratch the dirt around here a cedar tree will pop up.) I have made BP from charcoal made with both of these woods and the difference was almost unnoticeable. As a matter of fact, if given the choice between making charcoal from semi-rotted cedar or sound willow, I would, hands down, use the semi-rotted cedar. The charcoal made from the semi-rotted wood was softer and easier to grind up and made superior  BP


Edited by MadMat, 21 November 2018 - 03:11 PM.


#3 OldMarine

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Posted 21 November 2018 - 04:22 PM

Phil sells good charcoal Sam and that's his site you listed. Also has good prices on sulfur as well.
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#4 dynomike1

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Posted 22 November 2018 - 09:56 AM

Creagan did a lot of testing to.
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#5 Bigdawg

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 11:25 PM

Guys I REALLY need to know is the willow charcoal which is used in art suitable for black powder

#6 MadMat

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 11:41 PM

If you are talking about charcoal sticks for drawing, it probably is no good for making black powder. The sticks are more than likely going to have some kind of binder (quite possibly bentonite clay) which will make poor black powder. For this same reason, charcoal briquettes for BBQ make horrible black powder


Edited by MadMat, 02 January 2020 - 11:42 PM.


#7 MadMat

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 11:45 PM

Oh yeah... don't bother trying out activated charcoal for aquarium filters either. VERY BAD results



#8 Arthur

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Posted 03 January 2020 - 02:28 AM

One of the former UK suppliers used to buy the reject willow charcoal (broken sticks etc) from an art supplies manufacturer and sell them, crumbled a bit more, as willow charcoal for pyro. If the charcoal looks like sticks it's great. I've never heard of art charcoal being other than absolutely great for pyro. BUT the UK stuff was expensive compared to cheap pyro charcoal of uncertain source.



#9 asdercks

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 11:25 PM

Bigdawg, I have bought from this guys twice, cannot complaint about their charcoal, well, one tome I did received some undercooked pieces of charcoal but nothing too Bad
http://www.customcha...p-charcoal.html
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#10 Arthur

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 04:02 AM

One of the old maxims for choosing a good type of tree for BP was a fast growing tree that grows near water, and from that take young branches from the size of a man's thumb to the size of his forearm.  That opens a lot of types to try in my locality, in your locality I cannot say. 

 

However the two biggest influences on powder are the charcoal and the method, you have to get both right and exactly repeatable to have good reliable powder. 

 

A lot of the old classic British BP was made from red alder, the Royal gunpowder mill had a forest of red alder to use, pick a timber and use it Eastern red cedar pet bedding is the food of choice for people in some parts of the USA. 


Edited by Arthur, 12 January 2020 - 04:09 AM.


#11 justvisiting

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 12:29 PM

In my earlier pyro days, I tried many different charcoals for BP for nozzleless rockets. One of the 'winners' was staghorn sumac. It's an invasive species found over much of North America, the bark peels off easily, and it's easy to identify. Most people would be glad to be rid of it from their properties.



#12 SharkWhisperer

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 02:55 PM

Bigdawg, I have bought from this guys twice, cannot complaint about their charcoal, well, one tome I did received some undercooked pieces of charcoal but nothing too Bad
http://www.customcha...p-charcoal.html

Has anybody dealt with Custom Charcoal recently? I sent a message querying (then) current availability back in September 2019, but never received a response...



#13 Boophoenix

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 04:32 PM

Word on another forum is they closed up shop a while ago. Apparently maybe the owner was getting on up there in years and felt like retiring mixed with a drought that year. Don’t know them personally so the rumor mill is a fair bet. The source of that info is not known to spread false rumors.



#14 SharkWhisperer

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 11:48 PM

Well, that happens. From other threads, seems this man was solid in producing some top-notch pyro charcoal on demand for a good long stretch. Thanks for that!

 

Anyways, besides the vendors that toss out the $20/lb softwood charcoals on occasion to fill in the gaps, it'd be mighty fine to make acquaintance with another/new dedicated pyro charcoal seller one of these days. Alder, ERC, willow is nothing short of excellent. But to get a quantity of paulownia (invasive and all over a swath of the USA if you know what to look for) or, gasp, balsa charcoal (super opposite of dense), would be really nice, even just for messing around and not as standard BP for any given application. But I can imagine some balsa BP, oxy rich, in a simple nozzleless tube might really be impressive! Sizzle!!!!

 

Granted, not everybody's looking out for the "fastest" BP. Nonetheless, it's always much easier to slow down hot BP versus the difficulty of speeding up slow BP (unless your manufacturing/milling techniques were deficient to start with).

 

Does anybody have any comparative opinions regarding the commercial hardwood airfloat that's currently on the market (e.g., Skylighter, Cookbook...)? I'm guessing they source this from the same big charcoal companies, but this is an assumption. Has anybody noted any difference in reactivity between "commercial hardwood airfloat" from different sources? That would be useful information, for many.

 

Any updated knowledge?


Edited by SharkWhisperer, 21 January 2020 - 12:01 AM.


#15 Arthur

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 12:13 PM

Well made charcoal of specific wood types is important for making good powder. "Commercial Hardwood" really doesn't tell you whether it's Oak or Mahogany and it may be good in big sizes  for making sparks and tails, but it could be somewhat unspecified to poor for quality powder. 

 

There is always a small market for people who will provide  good charcoal from specified woods to make good powder. Ultimate speed is not always needed but consistency from batch to batch  is important. The Royal Gunpowder Mill used to make tonnes per day in those times and used to do batch tests for speed and power, batches were mixed if they were too fast or too slow. This facilitated a more consistent speed and range for the gunners using the powder.



#16 GimmeFuelGimmeFire

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Posted 22 January 2020 - 01:47 AM

Great information . I have tons of red cedar within a stones throw of me. Will definitely be giving it a try.

#17 Daniel1J

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 02:47 AM

Does this kind of coal fit or is it a mixture of different types of wood?


Edited by Daniel1J, 30 March 2020 - 02:47 AM.


#18 SharkWhisperer

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 03:22 PM

Does this kind of coal fit or is it a mixture of different types of wood?

Hard to say if it's not specified. And production batches (and sites) can differ widely. It's pretty much hit-or-miss with commercial lump charcoal. Cowboy brand got a good reputation for awhile, particularly if you picked out the pieces that seemed lower density to use. I use it for grilling and all Cowboy is definitely not the same. Check the bag (usually the bottom) for source. For years my Cowboy was produced in the good ol USA. Then I looked one day last year and it was shipped up from friggin Brazil. Well, this year I got sick of the crappy Royal Oak from Walmart (cheap but burns too damned fast) and was able to locate some Cowboy a town over. Yeah, wasn't til I loaded it into the truck that I saw the prominent "Made in Mexico" label on the bottom. Good for grilling. Haven't tested for BP. Point being, even the same brand might vary wildly in consistency.

 

Once cheap charcoal that is consistently reliable is that which you make yourself in an hour using Wallyworld's eastern red cedar (ERC) pet bedding; never had a bad batch. Was there today and a huge bag, maybe 2 cubic feet, was $10. A bag a quarter that size was around $4. A big bag might last a hobbyist a long time, makes hot charcoal for hot BP, and the charcoal thus made started as chips so it's halfway milled to airfloat already when it comes out of the paint can, larger retort, or TLUD.

 

Smartest and most cost effective recommendation I could imagine. Then again, you might get lucky and get a decent bag of lump charcoal that makes hot BP, but I wouldn't bank on it--tis all hardwoods meant to burn quite awhile. And as above, batches even from the same company aren't necessarily the same woods or sources. Home Depot's cheapest 2x4s (and even old pallets if the wood is SPF and not treated) also make fine sparky BP for stars, gerbs, etc... but I won't use it for rockets.



#19 BetICouldMake1

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Posted 01 April 2020 - 07:53 AM

I like to use the crappy Royal Oak for making charcoal stars, rockets, and black match. Basically use it for all my charcoal needs apart from bp for lift and burst--for those I use ERC. It's a little annoying to process, but at around $15 for a 30lb bag it's hard to beat the convenience and price.

 

For making good black powder you need good charcoal. There are many to choose from so it's really a question of what's easy for you to acquire. Vendors for specialty charcoal are scarce, and you will pay a premium, especially for milled charcoal. Unless money isn't a factor, cooking your own is really the only way to go in my opinion.



#20 Foxfire87

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Posted 09 April 2020 - 06:56 AM

I bought a cast iron dutch oven from sporting goods store and started making my own charcoal as needed, been able experiment with different woods and the process really isnt hard at all, just time consuming. Processing the lumps afterward is the extremely messy part. But I'm really glad I just started making it myself.




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