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Breaking up wood charcoal - Would a wood chipper work?


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I'm putting together a very large home garden, and I would like to incorporate finely ground wood charcoal. I don't really want to create it myself, I'd rather grind up wood charcoal from the store.

 

Could I use a woodchipper, or would it damage it? Anyone have input on this? I'd like to get away with not spending more than a few hundred and the woodchipper idea appeals to me because I could use the woodchipper for mulching as well, of course.

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  • 4 weeks later...

If you are going to use a mechanical means to grinding charcoal or even if your going to grind it by hand first soak it in water for at least 5 days. This should keep the charcoal dust to a minimum whoever if you see any dust stop and let the charcoal soak some more. I don't know if the body can or will extract it from the lungs. If you find a black residue in your nostrils then the charcoal needs more soaking

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Commercial briquettes are charcoal dust with a clay or starch binder.

 

Both of these will soften in water: if you soak the briquettes too long they'll fall apart.

 

This could work for you. Skip the chipper and just pour out the charcoal slurry with a dipper.

 

Remember though you've got to add nitrogen to the carbon or wait a year for the process to happen naturally.

 

Otherwise the charcoal will absorb nitrogen out of the soil. Some plant species will suffer.

 

In my garden, I've kept careful track of progress between my biochar and control plots.

 

Despite pre-soaking with compost tea, peppers and corn are slower growing on the biochar plots than the controls. I am amending the plots with fish emulsion to balance out the difference.

 

I suggest that you could build a compost pile, pour on the charcoal slurry and then add lots of manure.

 

Aerate that well and by the time the compost is done, the charcoal should be charged with nitrogen.

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