Coming of age on the girl farm: A charcoal retort

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There are certain ages where everything seems to change.  Coming of age on the girl farm can mean different things.  This week Abby plays with a little fire and shows us that age 12 is the age of oxy-acetylene.

Check out the video here, (Alicia Keys has got nothing on me):

She was cutting like a pro in no time (or like a farmer, which is the best that can be expected given the proficiency of her instructor).  She even got a little MIG time on the Millermatic wire feed.  An important side project, she laid some critical bead on a freshly installed trailer jack.

coming of age on the girl farm

coming of age on the girl farm

The main project of the day was a custom incinerator/retort combo.  The incinerator is for quickly and cleaning burning paper garbage and scrap wood. A retort is an oven type of device for making charcoal.  The idea is to clean up the waste and scrap wood and make wonderful charcoal at the same time.

Natural hardwood charcoal, clean and homemade, is the most perfect BBQ fuel.  It burns slowly, totally smokeless and nice and hot. An efficient retort will bring us very close to propaneless future.

coming of age on the girl farm

Charcoal is created when wood is heated in the absence of oxygen.  This drives off all the water and gases but, without oxygen, the remaining carbon cannot burn.  Check out this guys video on a very simple retort.  All I did was add the chimney and fan which will help it to burn hotter and cleaner.

Our machine worked awesome.The key was the 24V, 5″ PC fan connected to a 20V Cordless drill battery.  With the battery fully charged via our solar system, this fan will run for ten hours.  It provides enough draft to ensure a clean burn but not so much that it will burn out the barrel right away.

coming of age on the girl farm

coming of age on the girl farm

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Have you checked out our Free camping in Maui video?

Think we’re irresponsible parents?  Hate the video? Share it with all your friend to show them how lame it is, that’ll teach us!

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4 thoughts on “Coming of age on the girl farm: A charcoal retort

  1. Thanks for “The Retort Report”, it’s sorta like a “Rick Mercer Report” without the rant. Well, maybe the singing could be considered a rant. Google defines it as “speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way”. Yep, it was rant, couldn’t really call it singing. :o)

  2. We’re having a blast watching all of your videos. The kids love your projects and activities and are getting more and more excited to see you guys in person. This was great. I had no idea charcoal could be a DIY project:)

    • Thanks Christa, Yep charcoal is a great fuel. Many people in developing countries rely on it for cooking, unfortunately they do not have very efficient methods to make it and a lot of wood gets wasted. Next time we’re in Tanzania we’ll definitely be building a retort there.

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