To recall my ‘behind the scenes’ video about preparing willow for making homemade charcoal, you’ll have to stretch your mind back to summer 2019.
Well, after a long awaited dry enough day, the charcoal was finally fired, made and tested. Thankfully, we’re not aiming to make and sell charcoal for a living, so timescale wasn’t that critical.
Willow Charcoal Making Process
First: Prepare the willow whilst it’s green (freshly cut) as shown in this video.
You’ll need a few supplies:
- Your stripped willow pieces ~ naturally dried out
- Tin with secure lid and/or
- Cooking foil (strong type is best if placing directly in fire)
- A fire source ~ in our case a garden fire pit
- Common sense and safety precautions applied whilst ‘playing’ with fire!
- Heat safe tongs/utensil for extracting tin/wraps
Preparing to Fire Method Options
Depending on your fire source, you may decide to:
- Use a tin: in this case you can simply place all your cut willow pieces into the tin and secure the tin lid firmly. NOTE: You will need to make a few holes in the tin lid, to allow gasses to escape.
- Use cooking foil: in this case, tightly wrap small batches of your willow pieces in approximately 4 or 5 layers of foil. NOTE: Wrapping tightly helps avoid warping of the sticks in the firing process.
We chose option #2, the cooking foil method, as shown in above photos.
Fire up your fire pit
Once you’ve prepared everything, and hopefully the weather is dry, get your fire started (obviously, this is where your common sense and safety precautions come in handy).
- Once the initial flames have died down a little, gently place your tin or foil wraps onto the fire.
- add a little more kindling/twigs on top of your tin/foil wraps to ensure they’re evenly surrounded/covered by the fire/embers.
- Get yourself a hot cuppa or cool drink and watch the fire, leaving your willow sticks to burn for approximately 20-40 minutes.
It’s difficult to give an exact timing as this depends on the thickness and pre-fired dryness of your willow pieces. The aim is to ensure that all gasses are burned off, whilst ensuring that you don’t burn the sticks to ash.
- Ours were in the fire for approximately 30 minutes.
Taking your best guess:
- when you think they are ready, douse the fire, or using eg; BBQ tongs (safely) take the tin/foil wraps out of the fire and set aside to cool
- once cool enough to touch, open the tin lid or your foil wraps
In the event that your charcoal is not quite ready, just put them back into your fire for another 10 or 20 minutes (best guessing again).
Homemade Willow Charcoal Test
If all is good, your homemade charcoal will be ready to test and hopefully perfect to use in your own art work.
Homemade willow charcoal makes a beautiful present to gift to your artist friends. They will really appreciate the time, effort and thought you have put into making this for them.
That’s basically all you need to make your own homemade willow charcoal.
We’ve got quite a few more willow sticks drying in the shed, so we’ll be making another few batches this year, just as soon as we have some decent weather here.