I've been reading about forge construction and the different fuels used to heat the metals they were created for. Charcoal seems like a good choice for a "solid" fuel as it will generate intense heat without any smoke (assuming the wood used to make the charcoal is fully carbonized.
The process for making charcoal seems simple enough... Heat wood inside a container vaporizing the organic material yet prevent a burn due to lack of oxygen. What kind of setup do you use? What I'm looking for is efficiency IE: most charcoal for the least cost.
I've seen pictures on the internet of a 55 gallon barrel loaded with scrap wood from construction but it "wastes" or rather uses 1/3 as much wood as what is in the barrel to get the temperature up high enough so that gases released from the wood can be used to finish the carbonization.
Yes I have used home made charcoal before. Although I used it for making blackpowder. The way we used to make it was to get a camp oven and fill it up with bits of wood then throw on the lid and build a fire and chuck it in for half a day. It takes quite a while to 'burn down'. Different woods produce different qualitys of cahrcoal. For instance the blackpowder that I made was used in fireworks. Some types of fireworks require the powder to burn quicker than other fireworks. Willow wood is what is best to used for a 'fast' burning blackpowder. It is a nice soft light wood. So a hard wood like would make a 'slower' burning powder.
When you make your charcoal make sure that the lid is on pretty good as there has to be no oxygen present in the charcoal burning chamber.
You could burn the wood over a gas camping stove as well. What ever works.