I googled it, but it didn't really convince me as websites aren't that trustworthy.
I wish to make my own charcoal.

  • 1
    There are existing questions that might answer yours: Is coconut shell good to produce charcoal for drawing? and How do I get a blur (blended) effect in pencil drawings?. If those don't answer your question, please concentrate on one specific tool you want to make. The creation of drawing charcoal differs so fundamentally from the creation of tortillions / blending stumps that asking about both makes the question too broad.
    – Elmy
    Feb 10, 2021 at 5:57
  • 3
    Have you done any research? I just searched -how to make charcoal for art- and so many results came up that I am not going to try to convert one to an answer.
    – Willeke
    Feb 10, 2021 at 18:57
  • yes, but, I don't really trust any random website that tells me to do this and that, I want people to answer this question if they've done it before.
    – Isaac750
    Feb 10, 2021 at 19:33
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    @Isaac750 I can understand this kind of attitude in context of controversial techniques or clickbait instructions, but for this particular technique - that has countless instructions and tutorials that are all very similar - your comment sounds like "do my homework for me". What exactly tells you that the person answering your question actually has practical experiences and isn't just repeating all of those online sources? If you only want people to respond who have successfully created their own drawing chrcoal, you have to specify so in your question.
    – Elmy
    Feb 11, 2021 at 10:31
  • @Elmy, I am not asking people to "do my homework"... You said: "how can you tell if the person answering this has actual experiences?" you can tell with the explanations the person gives, details, tips, etc...Like I said before, I don't fully trust any website, and I've seen that this place has so many people that do things like this.
    – Isaac750
    Feb 11, 2021 at 16:51

1 Answer 1


Charcoal is organic matter (usually wood) that has been partially burned in a low-oxygen environment. To make it, you take wood, exclude air, and apply heat.

How to make charcoal with a fire and a metal container packed full of wood pieces

Supply list:

  • small pieces of wood (eg willow or charcoal)
  • a metal container with a lid and vent hole(s)
  • an outdoor fire pit or grill
  • fire tongs
  • firewood and kindling
  • an ignition method (matches, a lighter, flint & steel & tinder, a car battery, fire drill & block, etc.)
  • the skill to start a fire using your chosen ignition method
  • a fire extinguisher or several gallons of water (in case the fire gets out of control)


  1. Get a closeable metal container with no flammable parts (eg, an Altoid mints tin or a paint can). The container should close securely, but it needs a vent hole to allow gases to escape during the charring process. Poke an air hole in the lid if it doesn't have one.
  2. Fill the container with pieces of wood. Pack them tightly together to minimize air space.
  3. Get a good fire going. Put the container on the fire and surround it with hot coals or add logs around it so it will be surrounded by burning wood.
  4. Maintain the fire while you wait. The wood will release wood gas as it chars, and the wood gas will catch fire as it comes out of the vent hole. You'll see a flame coming out of the vent hole(s) as if it was a gas stove. When that flame goes out, it means the charcoal is no longer releasing wood gas, which means it's done.
    • A very small container may take half an hour or less.
    • A large container such as a 55 gallon steel drum may take 6 or more hours.
  5. Use tongs to pull the container out of the fire and put it on a heatproof surface, well away from anything flammable. Let it sit until completely cool before opening the container. Don't open the container while it's still hot or your charcoal will catch fire. If this happens, carefully try to put the lid back on to smother the fire. If you can't, now you have another small fire inside a metal container. Just let it burn, but stand by with your fire extinguisher or buckets of water to make sure this fire doesn't spread.

An even simpler method to make charcoal is just to have a wood fire. After the fire burns down, there will be some sticks or chunks of wood that didn't burn completely. The partially burned ends of those sticks will have a layer of charcoal. The charcoal may be covered with a layer of white or gray ash, which can easily be brushed or scraped off. Make sure the coals are completely cool all the way through before removing them from the fire, or you may have an unexpected fire in your art supply bag.

Common types of wood used for drawing charcoal are grapevine and willow. You can find more information about which materials make the good drawing charcoal here: Is coconut shell good to produce charcoal for drawing?

If you want a more detailed tutorial, there are lots of youtube tutorials about how to make charcoal. Here are just a few using different types of containers: paint cans; primitive method using a dirt mount; homemade kiln made from a 55 gallon steel drum.

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