We started making our own “All Natural Charcoal” as a way to save money since we love to BBQ. However, charcoal can do amazing things to your soil that will take your garden to the next level. Here’s how we did it all for only $20.

First, we gather up branches, downed trees, and junk pallets and cut them up into baseball size pieces. It’s important that the wood you use be a hardwood like oak, hickory, mesquite, elm or the like. For $20 we purchased a 55 gal. steel barrel. Punch air holes in the bottom of the barrel. Turn the barrel upright and place on 3 bricks or rocks to allow airflow through the barrel. Place a 4×4 post, or whatever, in the middle of the barrel and then place crumbled up paper, dried leaves, or some other combustible in the bottom. Next, put your hardwood pieces into the barrel while packing it tight around the 4×4 post. Once filled remove the 4×4 post. This will create a chimney effect and give you a more consistent burning of the wood. Light the bottom combustibles through one of the air holes in the bottom of the barrel. Once the fire has totally consumed the wood and you can see that it has all gone completely black then you need to remove the bricks the barrel is sitting on. Finally, put the lid back on the top of the barrel. This will starve the fire of oxygen and put out the fire. However, you have now trapped the heat which will continue to char your material throughout. Let it cool for several hours and PRESTO! YOU HAVE CHARCOAL! We then package up the charcoal in our empty feed and dog food bags.

Now that you have made your own charcoal, here’s how you can use it to make your garden better than you could ever imagine.

We put a small amount of charcoal at first and slowly add more as it is broken up into a metal barrel. We use a 4×4 post to “SMASH” it up into a powder. What this “smashing” does is it starts an ionizing process within the charcoal. This ionizing will then make the charcoal collect and attract vital nutrients within your soil. Also, the charcoal is porous so it will hold water which will cut down your watering needs drastically. Once you’ve made your charcoal powder spread it out on your garden. Then place your compost on top of the charcoal. We place black plastic sheeting over the compost and mulch which speeds up the breakdown process. We’ve posted pictures that show the different levels of soil and how it might look. You can see the black rich soil that you will be left with when all is done.




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