How to Make Charcoal From Saw Dust

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Things You'll Need

  • 30-gallon metal can and matching metal lid

  • Measuring tape

  • Drill

  • 1-inch drill bit

  • 1/8-inch drill bit

  • 15 gallon metal can with matching metal lid

  • Heat resistant gloves

  • Matches

  • 1/8-inch nails

  • Ziploc bag

  • Brick

Charcoal made from sawdust can be used in barbecue grills.

Charcoal briquettes can be made of sawdust or coal in processed forms. These materials can be combined with additives such as starch, borax and petroleum distillates to hold the coal together in larger pieces, add flavoring to the charcoal or affect the burning properties. Sawdust charcoal is achieved when all of the moisture and gasses are released from the wood during the burning process. Sawdust charcoal can be made at home, using two metal cans and a few tools.


Step 1

Place the 30-gallon metal can on a flat, non-flammable surface. Graveled areas or open dirt areas work well for placement. Lift the lid and set it aside.

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Step 2

Insert the 1-inch drill bit into the drill. Drill eight holes in the side of the 30-gallon can. The holes should be evenly spaced around the can circumference on the side of the can. Position the holes three inches from the bottom of the can.


Step 3

Insert a brick inside of the 30-gallon can. Center the brick in the middle of the can with the wide side facing up.

Step 4

Remove the 1-inch drill bit and insert the 1/8-inch drill bit into the drill. Drill four holes in the top of the 15-gallon can. Arrange the holes in a square shape where the holes are the corners of the square. Position the holes 1/2 inch from the edge of the lid.


Step 5

Pour the sawdust into the 15-gallon can leaving one inch of space at the top of the can.

Step 6

Put on the heat resistant gloves. Strike a match and apply the flame to the sawdust in multiple areas until the sawdust catches on fire. Place the lid on top of the 15-gallon can.


Step 7

Pick up the 15-gallon can and insert it into the 30-gallon can so that the 15-gallon can is centered on top of the brick. Allow the sawdust to burn until smoke stops escaping from the 15-gallon can.

Step 8

Remove the 15-gallon can from the 30-gallon can and set it on a non-flammable surface. Insert 1/8-inch nails into the four holes to cover the vents in the lid. Allow the can to cool for three hours.

Step 9

Remove the 15-gallon can lid and pour the charcoal into a Ziploc bag for storage.


Sawdust from different types of wood can be used, but the charcoal making process may be lengthened due to knots or increased levels of sap. A piece of wire can be inserted into the holes in the small can to stir the sawdust during the charcoal making procedure.


Do not use metal cans with any type of non-metal components. The components will may melt during the charcoal making process. Allow the charcoal to cool completely before moving it to a storage container.



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