This blog post explores how to make drawing charcoal. When I saw these step-by-step images below on Facebook, uploaded by art teacher Bernard Ionesco, that clearly show how to make charcoal, I just had to get in touch and see if I could share them. You would need one hell of a risk assessment to do this with students in school, but wouldn’t it be a memorable experience?
Charcoal is carbon. It’s made using a process known as ‘Pyrolysis’. According to Wikipedia, Pyrolysis is
“the process of thermal decomposition of materials at elevated temperatures in an inert atmosphere. It involves a change of chemical composition.”
The word is coined from the Greek-derived elements pyro “fire”, “heat”, “fever” and lysis “separating”.
That’s the science bit. In simpler terms, you need to take some wood, place it in an almost air-tight container, and then you heat up the container until everything in it, apart from the carbon, has evaporated away.
2. Fill the container with sand till you cover the sticks completely.
3. Make some holes in the lid of the container with a nail and hammer.
4. Place the container vertically or horizontally and cover it up with wood or charcoal.
5. Fire the BBQ or the fireplace. Keep the container surrounded by embers so the heat is uniformly distributed.
6. When the container is cold you can open it but the sand inside can still be hot, so be careful.
Once everything is completely cold, tip the sand and charcoal onto newspaper. Pick out the charcoal. Use the newspaper to tip the sand back into the container to reuse.
NOTE: You can repeat the process using the same sand over and over again but the container may fatigue after about three uses.
To access a free resource on Making Artists Charcoal. Simply click the image below.
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