Discussing different types of charcoal

Just FYI, I’ve done some tests (pyro baseball) with charcoal made from Pecan tree sheds (dropped limbs) and the results were comparable to ERC. ERC may have a slight edge but it’s not much.

Some of my wood stock: https://wildlightimagingstudio.com/img/s/v-10/p2221346389-5.jpg
I tested with bark (B pecan on the graph) and without bark (NB Pecan on the graph):

I noticed that there is a layer of sap wood? between the outer bark and wood that burns off and the charcoaled bark peels off.

I tried Pecan for two reasons, I have a lot of free wood supply in my yard and I couldn’t find an data for Pecan.

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Hey Mike,

I moved your post to a new topic. That way we can keep talking charcoal options without taking the chems buy off topic. There will be a link to this thread in the chems buy for other to follow as well.

I will say I favor ERC for a few reasons, it is inexpensive, consistent, pretty high power for rockets, and readily available kiln dried from tractor supply. But, most of all it is chipped into 1/16 inch thick chips. This makes it so I don’t have to add processing wood to my charcoal production for BP. I put a bail in my TLUD cooker and about 1.5 to 2 hours later I have perfect charcoal. Once that charcoal has cooled, it is fine enough for bp milling as is.

Now having free pecan sounds pretty nice. Do you dry it before cooking or just cook it green? How long does a batch typically take to cook? Lastly, how do you process the wood before and after cooking?

Thanks for sharing,


Topic move: that makes sense

At the time I wanted to make my first batch of charcoal and eventually hot BP so I decided to try Pecan, because I had it, and it worked. I admit, ERC is easier and less time consuming but I liked the idea of having my own source. That said, when milled ERC came back in stock I stocked up.

I did a lot of experiments, My first batch was literally made from 1" and smaller “twigs” taken from a 4-5" limb that had fallen in a storm. The large end was still attached to the tree but just barely. The small stuff cooks in a few hours on my grill (grates removed and the meal coffee can was sitting on the deflectors). The wood was not fully green but the bark peeled off like a carrot. Peeling the bark off and cooking that was experiment #2. Peeled vs bark on, not much difference performance really. The bark on small limbs is nearly impossible to peel off if the wood has dried btw. I found a retort design on Firesmith Manufacturings site, basically a crawfish pot with 4 holes drilled in the lid and some clamps, and that’s what I cooked the larger pieces of wood, 2-3" in diameter, in. That took a while. The wood was dry, freshly cut off of the fallen limb, and It cooked 4-5 hours. Like I noted in the other post, the bark separates from the main part of the wood during cooking. Processing… that is the next hurdle. The last batch was put in a doubled up plastic sack and beaten into submission with 2# hammer. Not elegant. Not fun. Then the fines and smaller chunks were put in my ball mill (SST media) and milled for 4 hours. It’s air float at that point. I haven’t tested the BP made from the wood in this batch other than a quick burn test.

I’ve made some cut blonde streamer stars with the BP made from Pecan as well as ERC. No test yet. I just bought a press and some tooling. I’m hoping to make some double voiced crackers soon. I’d like to make some pressed stars. Nothing big yet. All I have at the moment is a 1/4" star press. I’ll move to 1/2" or 3/4" as soon as I get more comfortable with the press and star comps that aren’t BP based. Comfortable is never really going to be the right word btw.

I think it’s obvious that I’m just getting started but I wanted to mention that to make sure.


Nice, perfect experimenting. Excited to see you double voice crackers. I’ve not had much success with those. Mine tend to hop a foot and blow a hole in the ground.

Hey Nick,

I finally started making my DVC’s.

I am following this procedure:

The bulkhead / fuse combo is pressed and the fuse ends are primed per the instructions. I’ll let the prime dry and follow up with BP. I might put some small stars someone gave into some of them.

I’ll be back in TX and testing before the weekend.


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Excited to see how they work.

One of 5 launched and worked correctly. The others didn’t have enough lift charge or I had the base sealed too well. I’ll try again.

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Those are two very different failure reasons.

Did you intentionally change the lift between each dvc or were they about the same?

The thing about DVCs is getting the lift directed downward consistently. I think we often over lift these, to make up for the fact that we are not directing the lift well enough. Instead of gluing your base plug, maybe try cutting it to a tight press fit. That way it slides. So when the pressure builds from the BP it pushes out the bottom rather than possibly shredding the tube.

My guess as to the issue on them not jumping high.

Also try shooting some with sand in the heading. That way you can see the tube after lift. Instead of the salutes destroying everything.

Good luck.