I asked my ever-willing husband to cut up a bit of maple scrap wood into small strips.
I put some heavy duty foil in the bottom of the pan to keep the bottom cleaner. I put the pan on my tripod propane burner which I had used quite a bit for dyeing. After about 5 minutes the first smoke appeared.
This can be directed to flow underneath the container if you have it set up for that and the flames can be used to continue to heat it. The flaming gasses help to keep the oxygen away from the wood so it does not burn. It also serves as a guide to tell you when the charcoal is ready! When the flames went out, I turned the propane burner off and let the pan cool. When I opened it, this is what I saw:
Finished drawing charcoal! I tested the charcoal out on charcoal paper and it works beautifully. It is a bit soft so I will need to cook the next batch a bit longer. It also curled a bit as you can see in the final two pictures.
I plan to do a bit more experimenting. I used my documenting skills I acquired when dyeing fiber so I will have an idea how to proceed. The whole process from start to holding the finished charcoal took all of one hour. I had to take a shower afterward as I smelled like a campfire!
A final note on charcoal making. I did a lot of research, I have a lot of experience with using propane burners, I had safety equipment standing by. If you choose to try this at home you do so at your own risk!
On the school front, we started another charcoal drawing this week. The teacher told us we will be starting figure drawing in earnest next term! In a few weeks we will be half way through the first year. Wow! Time flies when you are having way too much fun (and working hard too).
Until next week, -Renee