How to Process Corn Cobs Into Charcoal Briquettes

Written by stephanie urban
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How to Process Corn Cobs Into Charcoal Briquettes
Make charcoal from corn cobs (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Corn and other agricultural waste products make great charcoal because they produce less smoke. This makes them ideal for indoor cooking fires often found in third world countries or storm ravaged areas without electricity. Although corn can be made into charcoal without moulding it into a briquette it produces dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide. To prevent this, the purchase of an oil drum and a charcoal briquetter is an inexpensive alternative.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Oil drum
  • Metal punch
  • Hacksaw
  • 12 by 12 inch sheet of metal
  • Rocks
  • Corn
  • Lighter
  • Plastic Bags
  • Binder
  • Bucket
  • Briquetter

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  1. 1

    Use the metal punch to create holes in the bottom of the oil drum. Once you created leverage to us the hacksaw, make vent holes. In the same manner, make one large opening for the top of the drum. Stuff the bottom holes with ears of corn. The corn will keep flames from shooting out of the drum but vented enough to allow oxygen for burning. Place 3 or 4 large stones in a circle and place the drum on top. Fill the drum with corn and set on fire. Cover the drum with the sheet of metal. Place 1 or 2 stones on top to hold it down.

  2. 2

    Let the fire burn until the smoke disappears. Once the corn cobs have cooled place a portion of them in the plastic garbage bags. Tie off the top of the bag and step on the cobs until they are crushed. Repeat this process until finished.

  3. 3

    Take the crushed cobs and mix with a binder. Binders can be from flour and water or even cassava corn porridge. Mix the crushed coal and the binder in a bucket until an even consistency is reached; about the thickness of bread dough.

  4. 4

    Place the mixture in a briquetter. There are different types of briquetters ranging from very simple hand made tools to industrial quality, but they all work under the same premise. Put the mixture in, squeeze it tightly with a press to bind it and then remove the now fashioned briquette. Place the briquettes out to dry.

Tips and warnings

  • Sugar cane also makes great charcoal
  • This is an outdoor project due to large amounts of smoke created while burning the cobs.
  • Use heavy gardening gloves when feeding the oil drum with the cobs.
  • Cobs need to be fully cooled before attempting to crush them.
  • Do not stand close to the oil drum while burning.
  • Do not leave drum unattended while burning.

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