RE: Biochar

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Ben Discoe

Sep 23, 2010, 5:46:53 PM9/23/10
to Pedro Tama,
Hi Pedro,

Thanks. Allow me to tackle each question and cc the list.

1. Type of wood isn't very important. I recommend using anything that is
locally available, especially if it is is weedy, or can be harvested with
modest effort, and especially any wood that would otherwise burn or
decompose, if you did not divert it to charcoal.

2. Mango is fine. Use whatever's local.

3. Size/shape of the wood pieces has to do with how you're going to pyrolyze
them. In a pit like mine, i find that it's beneficial to have most of the
wood be roughly the same thickness, although some smaller and large chunks
are fine too. A barrel can be more picky about wood length, but a pit is
generous. I use dried split rounds, rather than using whole thick logs.
The tradeoff is between labor (splitting the wood) and excessively large
chunks taking a lot of time in the pit.

4. Dried wood is IMHO a lot better for a pit, although if you see Jay
Fitzgerald's approaching using a rolling open bonfire, he gets reasonable
results using green wood, there is a tradeoff with green wood taking less
time/labor, vs. a higher yield with dry wood.

Best wishes,

> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On Behalf Of Pedro Tama
> Sent: Monday, September 20, 2010 2:46 PM
> To: Ben Discoe
> Subject: Biochar
> Aloha Ben,
> I'm impressed with you homemade pit biochar method.  Seems very efficient
> not very difficult.
> How important is the type of wood?  Do you recommend any particular wood
> species? Here in Holualoa we have a lot of mango, but it's quite soft.
> And what about the sizes/shapes of the wood pieces.  Is there an optimum
> size/shape for your large pit?
> And last, green wood or seasoned?.  Would have very different moisture
> content.
> Very much appreciate all the innovative and experimental work you do and
> you share with everyone.....Thanx,
> Aloha,
> pedro

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