Tree Talk, September 2009
any people are not practiced incharcoaling. It is only a part-time occupation. Because of this,they may not know the best, safest way to make charcoal.
Says Richard Kisakye, AcademicRegistrar at Nyabyeya Forestry Collegeand energy specialist: “The way charcoal is being produced, there is somuch waste: for every 10 kilograms of wood that are burned, you only get onekilogram of charcoal. At the rate thatUganda is cutting trees, I don’t think theforests will last even 10 years.”
BE CAREFUL!Making charcoal isdifficult, and sometimes dangerous work.
Okello Stephen, 15, from Omoroin Gulu, dropped out of school becauseof school fees. Now he is helping his auntin piling logs to make charcoal.He says,
Last week I got injured when I was fellingdown a tree. Thetree sliced andhit my hand andnow I cannot liftanything with my right hand.”
It is best to cut treesfrom a man-made woodlot that can be replanted. Donot cut natural forests – they bring rain, protect wa- ter catchment and are home to many birds and animals.Natural forests take long togrow back. Cut a tree trunk30cm from the ground. Donot cut lower: allow thestump to grow again. Use asaw to make a direct cut; anaxe cannot cut directly and wastes wood.
Cut treesinto logs of 1-1.5 metresin length.Dry in a well-clearedarea for 3-4 weeks. Dry wood islighter tocarry and yields morecharcoal.
For a “kasisira” kiln, lay thin pieces of woodpointing towards the center. Lay more piecesacross to make a platform. Stack the largestlogs first, as closely as possible. Follow withmedium and then small logs. Fill remaining spaces with smaller logs.
For a “bus” or “kinyankole”kiln, lay thin logs crosswise intoa long, rectangular platform. Top with large logs, filling the gaps with smaller logs.
Cover the kiln with metal sheets, if you have them.Otherwise, cover with grass and then with a layer of soil of atleast 20 cm. Make at least eight air inlets at the base of thekiln. To light the kiln,put burning charcoalinto the lighting holeat the top of the kiln.Let it burn for 1½ to2 hours before sealing the lighting hole. Builda ditch or a barrier of thorny branches around the kiln to protect itfrom cattle.
Monitor the kiln at all times.If cracks or holes appear, fill withsoil. When the kiln falls in on it-self, the wood has finished burn-ing. Seal all cracks with soil. Allow the charcoal to cool for fivedays before harvesting. Use apitchfork to har- vest thecharcoal withoutpicking up soil.
Charcoal is made from trees. First, trees arecut, collected and gathered into a large heap.The wood is usually covered with a layer ofdried grass, a layer of soil, and then it is lit.The grass and soil act like a barrier, prevent-ing air – and the oxygen (O
) in the air - fromreaching the wood. This is different fromﬁrewood, which burns in the open air and
Wood andcharcoal are not theonly fuels
A boy in Nakasongola helps his grandmother produce charcoalusing a traditional kiln. The kiln must be supervised at alltimes. If cracks are not filled with soil, heat can escape and you will get less charcoal.
CHARCOAL PRODUCTION DOES NOT HAVE TO WASTE WOOD
Every year, Uganda cuts seven million tons of wood to make charcoal: that is like cutting 40% of Nakasongola's woodland! If all charcoal were made properly, following the above guidelines, we wouldonly need half as many trees to make the same amount of charcoal.
eventually turns to ash. When makingcharcoal, there is no oxygen and so thewood burns slowly through a processcalled carbonization; when the woodhas ﬁnished burning, charcoal remains.Charcoal is carbonized wood. To pro-duce it more efﬁciently, follow the direc- tions below.
Mr. Abasi Kazibwe Musisi ofKampala is an award-win-ning entrepreneur who makesbriquettes from waste materi-als. He says, “You find heapsof G-nut husks just waiting tobe burned. I compact theseas well as sawdust, coffeepulp and maize cobs into bri-quettes with a machine. Theyburn very cleanly and the heatgoes directly to the pot.”These briquettes are goodbecause they re-use wastematerials; do not need trees;burn for a long time; and areless costly than charcoal.They need to burn in a specialMasisi stove, which is soonbeing finished. You cancontact Mr Musision 041-4-270887.
1-1.5 m30 cmLighting hole Air hole