How to Make Charcoal Filters With Sugar Maple

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Sugar maple charcoal adds a sweet flavor as it filters.
Sugar maple charcoal adds a sweet flavor as it filters. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

One part of the process of making distilled products is filtering the distillate liquid through a charcoal filter. Charcoal is the product made after you heat hardwood chunks of wood to the point of releasing steam and gases without burning them. The miniscule cracks and crevices act as a filter for the liqueur. Sugar maple is a hardwood found mostly in the northeastern United States. You can make your own charcoal filter with sugar maple wood and simple materials.

Things You'll Need

  • Sugar maple wood
  • Wood saw
  • Metal container
  • Electric drill
  • Steel drill bit
  • l2-gallon pot or bucket
  • Grill
  • Pot holders
  • Metal sieve
  • Food processor or blender
  • 1-inch tube, 3 feet long
  • Cheesecloth
  • Rubber band

Cut dried sugar maple wood into small 1-inch chunks using any type of wood saw. If you do not have easy access to a maple tree, you can use a piece of lumber as long as it has not been treated with preservatives.

Prepare a baking container for the wood by drilling six 1/4-inch holes in the top cover of a metal container large enough to hold a few cups of the wood chunks. Use a steel drill bit and keep the holes near the center.

Place in a heated outdoor grill at 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch the holes for the type of discharge to regulate the stage of the charcoal making. As the wood heats for the first 30 to 40 minutes, steam is produced. Watch for the yellow smoke over the next hour, showing that the gases are being released. Once the discharge clears, cook for another 30 minutes to reduce the wood to a brittle charcoal.

Fill a large pot or bucket with cold water deep enough to submerge all the charcoal.

Remove the container from the grill and remove the cover, using pot holders or oven mitts to protect your hands from the heat.

Drop the hot charcoal into the cold water for about five seconds. Dump out the water over a metal sieve to catch the charcoal. The steam causes the surface of the charcoal to crack into millions of fissures, increasing the filtering surface of the sugar maple charcoal.

Use a food processor or blender to process the charcoal into a coarse powder, suitable to fit into a tube. Use only a couple handfuls at a time.

Spoon the sugar maple charcoal into a funnel attached to a 1-inch-wide tube about 3 feet long. Tie off the end of the tube with three layers of cheesecloth and a rubber band. This will prevent the charcoal from dropping out of the tube as you filter. Add enough charcoal to fill 24 inches of the tube.

Pour water through the funnel into the tube until it runs clear from the end of the tube. The wet filter is ready for your distillate.

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