Monday, July 8, 2013

A great weekend - kolmila 2013

Last weekend was one to remember!

On saturday morning we set out to start erecting this year's charcoalkiln and for me it is the first time to witness and participate in this proces from start to finish. After last year's experiment the decision was made to go for the usual traditional standing kiln instead of a lying one.
The principle is as follows; you heat up a pile of wood untill it reaches combustiontemperature, yet you take away the oxigen from the proces. Instead of burning the wood you thus char it which gives charcoal, but of a much better quality then the stuff you buy in supermarkets or at gasstations for your barbeque. This stuff is good enough to use for blacksmithing.... or so I have been told.
First you lay the bottom. Since I have no pictures of this step, I borrowed it from kolmila's websitepart. You lay out a starshaped floor and erect a centre pole. The ends of the starpoles are connected by smaller poles, securing the large ones in place. The centrepole serves both as a rest for the piled on wood and as a basis for the chimney. The horizontal poles serve as a basis for the floor, which is made up of poles too.

The chimney is made by securing 3 frames to the centrepole and then lash vertical poles to the frames, creating a long upstanding box. The excess portions of the floor are cut off, so no one trips, nothing sticks out at the end and the pieces are used to fill up any gaps later on.

After that is done you start stacking poles, making sure you pile them up as tight as possible, leaving no pockets of air or filling up those with woodchunks as much as possible. The reason is that, since the burningproces is one without air, all available pockets will fill up with very hot woodgas. 
Woodgas+high temperatures+oxigene=combustion, meaning open fire. Since the concentrations of gas and the very high temperatures make a very flammable mix it could even become explosive and we don't want red hot pieces of coal or burning wood flying through the woods. As few pockets of air as possible should remain.

All the stacks visible go into this one kiln and we allready made up the core....

The Mss and I joining forces

and of course no openairevent here can go without.....

My beloved wife thought we needed more variation, so 2 very ovenfresh rhubarbpies with vanillacream joined us.
But not for long! ;)

Even my youngest daughter chimed in on the varietytheme.
Her version was very fresh blueberryjam.....without sugar.

It was a very good day. We achieved more then anticipated, we socialised a lot, had good food, good company, a lot of laughs and very good weather....

The day draws to and end...

Sundaymorning we went back.
Since we came so far and since the weather was so good we wanted to get the kiln covered up. For that we needed sprucebranches.... a lot of them. They have to be as fresh as possible, so they cover up the wood completely to keep out the gravel that is going to seal it all up.
Unfortunately the good weather had a downside; the fresh boughs we were supposed to collect at a woodcutting site had all wilted and dried up. The needles fell out. That was a bit of a set back. This meant we had to go into the woods and collect fresh boughs. Armed with hooked bills, hatchets, a saw and garden shears we went to work, spreading the harvest over many trees. It was hot, even between the trees and the forest was heavy with that sweet sent of spruce and pine. During the "harvest" I approached a small stand of young spruce. As I came close I saw a large, brown bird dash away, making a lot of noice. Yet it did not go far, kept close and kept making noice. I knew something was not right and as I looked between the boughs, ready to cut some off, I saw a nest. It was quite deep, with a smooth cuplike interior and in it were a handfull of blue eggs.... I immediately backed away, but moved gently as not to cause more distress to the appearant mother.

Back at the kiln the top was leveled and filled up with wood, making sure it was as level and packed as possible. Then a thick layer of boughs was layed on and from there we worked our way down, covering the woodpile all the way. What a great buildingmaterial these boughs are!

Even jr. pitched in and did his fair share!
After the entire stack had been covered the top was then covered with a mixture of gravel, sand and coal, so everything will be sealed of air tight. We also covered up the base of the kiln, since that one is actually open, because the floor is a few cm above the ground.
Of course lunch was served in the manor previously mentioned. Then the whole site was cleaned up and even needles and cones were being removed, so the area is clean when the festivities start at the end of august, with the lighting of the kiln. It'll be busy enough then as it is.
And what better way then washing off the dirt and sweat and enjoying the good weather and company then go for a swim. We learned of a great swimminglocation, even closer to home then the previous one.

All in all a weekend like a holiday; exercise, woodstime, grilling, good company, swimming and fantastic weather...


  1. Looks like a great traditional community activity. Looks like that Kiln will be hot for some time!

  2. Hi Paul,
    it sure was fun. If I am informed correctly it will burn for 2 full weeks.
    I can't comment on your blog any longer, btw. Says I need to upgrade to google+??

  3. Thats a shame, I thought it still allowed normal blogger and the new google+?

  4. Thanks for showing this, Ron! I have wondered for quite a while how this was done traditionally.