Charcoal Washing Experimentation

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By User: Eric


  • Had a "traditional campfire" last night
  • Consisted Mainly Of:
    • RDF (paper and "dryer lint" as starters) (small overall, not measured)
    • Forestry Residues ( Southern Pine pinecones, "twigs" , and dropped ~3cm or so branches
    • Crape Murtle pruning branches (still very "green" so lots of sap/smoke/steam)
  • This was run until there was only a near homgoenous (due to stirring in the "final stage") Bottom Ash (Powder) + Charcoal (~1cm chunks + smaller dust) mixture
  • The following day ~5 spoonfuls of the mixture was added to 500ml of tap water (was massed as well (on a kitchen scale in grams (1 or 2 decimals), grab data from photos) ) so nothing TOO scientific, but should get some data
  • The resulting mixture was stirred and agitated with the same "disposable plastic spoon" for ~5 minutes
  • Solution Seemed Saturated with entrained charcoal/non-soluable minerals entrained, but this is pending further analysis
  • The tap water's PH was testing using an (old...) aquarium PH Tester kit.
    • This utilized a (sodium bromate?, grab the name) liquid that was added in "three drops" to 5ml of the sample (double check data)
    • The resulting color change after mixing was measured utilizing a chart, and a digital phone camera (various exposures, and a flash exposure) (not in RAW, but proprietary apple format, may want to try a version in RAW with better light?)
  • Added ash+charcoal mix ~13:20 EST
  • The mixture was filtered via pouring it from the "mason jar" through two disposable coffee filters, into another jar
    • It was stirred throughout this process to try and keep all the particles entrained
    • Also upon pouring all of it, there was a "washing step" with tap water
  • The collected solids were left to dry on a paper plate (and solids were collected from wiping materials as well, to maximise yields)
  • The remaining solution then had it's PH tested in the same manner as the other samples
  • Now i need to grab data from the photos/videos
  • Also optional (fractional) crystalization / recrystalization

Recoverable Materials

  • Water (if destilled etc)
  • Charcoal (may make a page on "washed charcoal?, or something, also much of it seems to be a powder or ~1cm clumps, so nearly Charcoal Powder already)
  • Potassium Hydroxide (was historically made via the "leaching" of wood/plant ashes hence "potash")

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