How to build a charcoal kiln

Written by teresa starr
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How to build a charcoal kiln
You can use a metal dustbin like this one to build a charcoal kiln. (old metal garbage dustbin image by Kathy Burns from

When some people think of a kiln, they probably think of a kiln that artists use to harden clay or form glass. However, a kiln can also be used to process wood. In turn, this processed wood can become either artists' or barbecue charcoal quite easily. It is a natural way to make charcoal in your own backyard. Building a charcoal kiln is an easy task that almost anyone can complete.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Large metal dustbin
  • Dustbin lid
  • Four bricks
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Cardboard or paper
  • Matches
  • Wood or branches

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  1. 1

    Place the dustbin in an area away from your house, trees or any other combustible materials.

  2. 2

    Drill approximately 12 holes on the bottom of the dustbin. These holes should be at least 1 to 2 inches in radius.

  3. 3

    Lay down the bricks in the area where you will be placing the dustbin and sit the dustbin on top of the bricks. Placing the dustbin on top of the bricks will enable air to flow through the holes in the bottom of the dustbin.

  4. 4

    Place cardboard and/or paper in the dustbin, filling it at least halfway full, and then ignite it with a match.

  5. 5

    Place the wood or branches into the kiln once the fire is going and is nice and hot. Cover the dustbin with its lid, leaving at least a 4-inch gap to ensure that you don't suffocate the fire.

  6. 6

    Bang the dustbin with a stick once thick, white smoke appears. This means that the wood is beginning to char. Banging the dustbin will help settle the wood and create more smoke.

  7. 7

    Place the lid on the dustbin firmly and tight so that no smoke can escape once the smoke has turned a thin shade of blue. This will make the kiln airtight.

  8. 8

    Allow the wood to be charred for approximately three to four hours. Remove the lid and allow the newly produced charcoal to cool for at least 24 hours.

Tips and warnings

  • You can move around the kiln with your hands if you are wearing oven gloves or something else to protect your hands from being burnt.

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