Sunday, December 6, 2015

Making Biochar with the Oregon Kiln

Well I finally did it. Got some kilns out in the woods to burn slash piles that are normally incinerated to ash. Thanks to Grayback Forestry and Sean Hendrix for inviting us to bring the kilns to see what they could do. Each kiln consumed about 6-8 burn piles and made close to a cubic yard of char. It rained steadily all morning, but we were still able to make char. We lit up at 9 am and quenched at 12:30. I was pleased to see it took less than 50 gallons of water to completely quench one kiln. Took a lunch break and dumped the kilns and loaded them back on the trailer. Went pretty smooth, really.

Some of the Forest Service fire people were there and they said that 7 piles corresponds to about 40 feet of roadside thinning. So if you could unload 20 kilns along 800 feet of roadside, you could treat all the slash and make 20 cubic yards of biochar in 6 hours of work. If the feedstock is well-staged and you don't have to pull apart piles and move it long distances, I think one worker (a young, strong one, not me!) could feed 4 kilns continuously. So a crew of 6 could do it. You'd need a flatbed to transport the kilns and 1000 gal water truck to quench.

The only part I have not figured out yet is how to gather up the biochar for bagging. I'd like to try a shredder vacuum, but I worry about wet char sludge clogging up the works. Otherwise, a loader with a scoop could pack it into totes for sale. You'd get a little forest duff in the bags, but that's a bonus extra!

Web album is here:

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Oregon Kiln makes biochar outside of Ashland

The first firing of the Oregon Kiln took place at Willow Witt Ranch on Nov 27, 2015. Thanks to Suzanne and Lanita of Willow Witt Ranch and helper Micah. Thanks also to Vicklund and Son for fabricating the kilns and mounting the jib crane to the trailer. The Oregon Kiln was designed by Kelpie Wilson, Wilson Biochar Associates ( The Oregon Kiln is a Flame Cap Biochar Kiln intended for use with forest slash and other kinds of waste wood commonly found in the forested regions of Oregon and elsewhere.
Willow Witt Ranch Char Day

This kiln is available to process slash piles from our forestry projects here in the Illinois Valley.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Biochar Burn Day – Monday November 23rd
Contact: Kenny Houck (IVCDO) at 541-956-7275 or Kelpie Wilson (Illinois Valley Forest Collaborative) at 541-218-9890 or 541-592-3083

Biochar Burn Day – Monday November 23rd

Volunteers are invited to come help make biochar from burn piles generated by the Page Creek Community Forestry Project. Volunteers will be able to take some biochar home with them at the end of the day.

Please join us at the end of Page Creek Rd at 8:30 am on Nov 23rd. We will work until the project is done or until dark. Feel free to come for all or part of the day and bring work gloves and snacks or a lunch. If you have shovels and rakes, please bring them.

A crew from Grayback Forestry will help us re-stack several dozen burn piles into loose ricks for biochar production. After re-stacking the piles, we will light them on the top and they will burn down to coals. We will use backpack water pumps to quench the coals and save them as biochar. Volunteers are needed to help tend the fires and spread the coals out with rakes to cool more quickly.

We will provide bags for volunteers to load up some of the biochar to take home and use in their own gardens.

A group of citizens has been working with the US Forest Service for several years now to plan and implement a pilot project for community-based forest restoration management on 80 acres near Takilma.  Last spring the group held a pole sale from thinning of a 50-year-old plantation at the end of Page Creek Road. The burn piles are from slash generated by the pole logging.

Directions to Page Creek Project Area: Take Takilma Road south, past the Dome School and turn Left on Page Creek Road. Go past the Out 'n' About Treehouse Resort and past several fields to where the forest starts. You will you see a group of vehicles in the field on the right. Park there and walk into the forest on the left side of the road.

How to Make Biochar from a Burn Pile:

Stack wood in a loose pile or open rick

Light it on top
Top lighting makes a clean burn - barely any smoke
When the pile collapse, it's time to quench
Quench and save your biochar