Use Instructions for BioCharlie

INSTRUCTIONS FOR BIOCHARLIE BOX

Thank you for your purchase and thank you also on behalf of our planet.  It is clear that you are passionate about taking action to lessen the global crisis we are facing and that is most admirable.  Please read through these instructions before using your BioCharlie.

 

CAUTION!!!! 

The making of biochar using this process involves the hazards of working with fire and exposure to extremely hot surfaces.  Never touch the handles or container while in the fire.  Use a fireplace tongs if it is needed to be moved within the fireplace.  Keep children away from the fire as you normally would and take all precautions to contain the fire and container safely within the hearth.  Do not touch the handles/container until the following day long after the fire has died and the hearth is completely cold.

 This item is to be used in wood burning fireplaces, wood stoves and outdoor fire pits only.  It is not meant to be used in any gas or propane fireplace or appliance.  Handling of the unit requires caution as there are some sharp edges on the underside of the lid.  

Use care when transporting contents of the container as the lid may loosen and become detached unexpectedly, causing contents to spill out.

Never remove BioCharlie from fire until completely cold!  If the char spills out while hot it could rapidly rekindle with exposure to oxygen causing a fire, property damage, injuries, etc.

Preparation

Simply open the container by pulling up on the latch.  Load the box with any dry biomass you desire (see ingredients below).  Hardwoods make for excellent grade biochar and for that reason we recommend hardwood pellets.  When loading the cylinder try not to stuff the material together but keep it loose and able to breathe.  This will allow the heat to circulate throughout the container and cook all the biomass thoroughly.  Close the lid and you’re ready to go.

Ingredients

As indicated above any type of biomass can be used to make biochar.  Whatever you use must be dry or seasoned for good results.  Wood pellets are recommended and easy to start out but there are many other possibilities.  It is popular to use dead branches that fall from trees on your property or scrap lumber left over from building projects.  You can try using wood chips, kindling scraps, nut shells, bones, grasses, cardboard, pits or nuts, etc.  Never load with plastics or metals.

Placement in the fire

You can place the BioCharlie Box in any location within the fire box depending on your preference.  As the fire matures a bed of coals forms on the floor of the hearth and becomes very hot.  For best results we have found that the container placed in the middle of the back wall of the fireplace is optimal for cooking the char.  This position is also out of the way for adding logs.   Placing the box upright is most practical but not critical.  Vent holes are seen on one side of the box near the top.  The container also vents through the unsealed edges of the lid.  The BioCharlie can be placed among other logs before lighting the fire or added carefully after the fire has matured.

 

The Bake

As the heat from the fire increases, smoke will be seen escaping the box through the vent holes and the edge of the lid.  The escaping smoke will become flammable and may be ignited by the surrounding flames of the fire.  This gives the appearance that the metal box is burning along with the other logs in the fire, but it is the off gasses from the materials inside that are burning.  The duration of an average evening fire is usually sufficient to transform the material completely to char.  The biomass in the box is burned partially with a lack of oxygen (a process is called “pyrolysis”) leaving charcoal instead of ashes.

Relax and enjoy

While the BioCharlie Box is doing its thing, it is important to relax with your favorite beverage and enjoy a peaceful evening by the fire.  Your enjoyment will be heightened knowing that you are helping the planet.

Removal of char

Never touch, check or remove the BioCharlie Box until the fire is completely out and cold the next day.  When you are sure the metal is cold, carefully take the container to a place where you can empty the char without making a mess in your house.  Just open the lid and pour it out. 

What to do with the char

Use the biochar as a soil enhancer for you potted plants, lawn or garden.  You can place the char into a large bucket and use the end of a 2X4 to crush it into finer granules.  Using wood pellets saves this step as the granules are already sufficiently small.  Before crushing it, spray it down with water to keep dust under control.  The raw biochar should be “charged” before being added to the soil.  This is done by mixing it into some compost or even fertilizer and letting the nutrients absorb into the char.   After a couple weeks the mixture of char and compost/fertilizer can be introduced to the soil.  A general rule is to add biochar to a ratio of approximately 10 to 1, soil to biochar. 

Fruit of your efforts

First and foremost the biochar you have made has been changed to a very stable form of carbon that will be locked away/sequestered for up to a millennium or longer.  You have just ended the cycle of the material burning or rotting and being released back into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.  Putting the char into the soil has many benefits for your plants and the earth as a whole.  Here are a few:

  • Absorbs water allowing for better drought resistance
  • Absorbs fertilizers and nutrients making them available for plants while keeping them from being washed away
  • Encourages the growth and health of micro-organisms for healthier soils
  • Reclaims depleted carbon levels in soils

 

As a final note, you could even help the planet by throwing your bio-char in the garbage.  That’s right--even if it ended up in a landfill somewhere it would be put to use absorbing harmful gasses and odors while still sequestering CO2.