Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Thrill of Being Bad

It's pretty sad that in my case, "being bad" means I did not go back outside to plant more potatoes after Cubby went to bed last night. I was burned out. So instead I sat inside, had a gin and tonic, and watched YouTube videos about making charcoal.

Yes, that's me being bad. Pathetic, I know.

But let's talk about that charcoal. Because there is a whole YouTube world out there devoted to making charcoal. The topic first came up last night as I was starting the charcoal grill to cook some steaks. As I was pouring the charcoal in, I was thinking, "I bet we could make this." We buy the natural charcoal, you see, not the briquettes, so it is literally just charred bits of wood.

Then, in a spectacular example of mind meld, A. came wandering into the kitchen with Cubby and said he really should try making charcoal. (A. should try making it, I mean, not Cubby. Just to clarify.)

There is a reason we're still married, obviously. And that reason is a shared interest in craziness.

So I did a random search for how to make charcoal online and found two YouTube videos that A. and I watched together. One was titled, "How to make charcoal like an eco redneck" and featured a guy in sweatpants and Sorrel boots burning a "big pile of shit" (his words) around a repurposed metal drum full of bits of wood with nails in it. The other was a four-part video showing with great historical accuracy how the colliers of Pennsylvania used to make charcoal over a nine-day period.

Much as we enjoyed watching the rigid detail with which the Pennsylvania guy made historically accurate charcoal (and much as I enjoyed the two little boys helping and the chickens that wandered around in the video to great hilarious effect), I think we're going with the big-pile-of-shit-and-drum method. Because we are rednecks. Eco rednecks even.

Eco woodchucks, actually, which I think is a term I should be using regularly.

We may not make the charcoal for awhile, as summer tends to be busy time for us. Then again, we might make it this weekend. You never do know. So stay tuned for our adventures in eco woodchuck charcoal making sometime in the future.

Also, possibly adventures in tallow soap making. But that's another story entirely.


Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

I have always wanted to make soap! (sorry, can't share the enthusiasm of making charcoal - the man will only cook on gas - he's a bit militant about it.)
But soap, yes! And candles.

dentedsh - the last part of the sentence, "it's dented, sh*%!".

Daisy said...

Eco-woodchucks - I like it.

Lana from Farm Life Lessons said...

This is very interesting. Let us know if you try it and the cost comparison. I'm sure it'll be fun, regardless!

sheila said...

Soap making is easy. Beef tallow is a great fat compared to lard. The soap turns out harder and the bars last longer. Just make sure you have an extra adult around while you are making it to keep Cubby from getting hurt. Lye is extremely dangerous to have around a toddler.

As far as charcoal making here's another YouTube video demonstrating authentic technique from the BBC Edwardian Farm series.

Go Rednecks! I live vicariously through your adventures.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you could make it in the winter in the woodstove??
Two birds with one to speak. Beth

rls said...

It cracks me up how many of your posts start with "I was [doing this relatively normal thing] yesterday and then I thought 'Hey, I bet I could make this myself.'"