Group Title: Environmental teaching plans
Title: Making charcoal
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 Material Information
Title: Making charcoal
Series Title: Environmental teaching plans
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: St. Croix Environmental Education Team
Publisher: Division of Fish and Wildlife
Place of Publication: Frederiksted, VI
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA01300920
Volume ID: VID00061
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Grade Level:

1. The Sun
8. Values & Attitudes


Estelita Ferdinand
Eulalie R. Rivera Elementary School


1. Social Studies
2. Science
3. Language Arts


Student shall follow procedures used in making charcoal and learn the terms used
for the various steps in the procedure as part of the Island culture.

Student shall understand why the wood does not burn completely.


In outdoor cooking charcoal is a pleasant kind of fuel being compact and lacking
the smoke which a wood burning fire makes, both on the food and in the faces of
the people tending the fire. Making a supply of "coal" was an island activity
when there were no stoves in homes and cooking was done out of doors.
Individual homes made coal and it was also done on a commercial scale and the
coal exported by boat.

Wood burned in the open will be oxidized completely to carbon dioxide and water.
However, wood burned in a condition of control (lacking sufficient air) will not
be completely oxidized leaving carbon which can then be used as fuel.

Some questions to be addressed:

1. Is commercial charcoal production feasible on the Virgin Islands.? (Are
the wood resources adequate?)

2. What are some current substitutes for cooking outdoors with charcoal?
(oil, kerosene, LP gas, electric grills).

3. What are some environmental implications in the substitutes for
charcoal? (availability and cost of petroleum products and electricity).

Materials Needed:

Dry wood (tan-tan, mangrove)

Pick axe, shovel, hoe and' machete

Four pegs and two runners made from wood

Kerosene oil and matches
Green vines
Dry grass or weed (tinder).


E. T.



In a schoolyard locate a suitable spot, keeping in mind safety for children.

With a shovel clear away the spot in which you want to set the coal pit.
With a pick axe dig a hole in the ground about a yard square and a foot deep.
Clean out the. hole with the shovel and pile the dirt in one spot for later
replacement. Using a machete sharpen the ends of four thin sticks to points.
These are the pegs to be driven into the ground, two at each end of the hole.
The pegs define the limits of the pit and hold the wood together. Use two
runners to form a platform to keep the wood off the ground. Put the dry grass
(tinder) in the bottom (called the coal local) and of the hole.

In an orderly fashion, stack the lengths of
wood to be made into coal on the runners.
Layer the green vines and material on top of
the wood. Pour the kerosene on the dry tinder
and light the fire. 14hen it is burning
briskly cover over the top of the green plant i
material with dirt set aside leaving two holes
for draft, one at each end. Let it burn for
about a day or until the dirt collapses. (What
is indicated by the dirt falling in at the '
center?) Then stamp the dirt with a shovel to
smother the burning wood inside. If the dirt
is still hot let it remain until it cools,
then take the hoe and pull out the coal.

The principle of incomplete combustion can be demonstrated on a small scale in
the following ways:


Test tube with one-hole stopper into which a short length of tubing is inserted.
(6-8 cm.), test tube holder, alcohol lamp, saw dust, safety goggles.


Put a small amount of the saw dust in the test tube and insert the stopper.
Hold the test tube over the flame. Look for changes in the wood. Heat the saw
dust until smoke streams from the test tube. Note the odor it makes. (Like a
charcoal fire.) Hold a lighted match at the end of the glass tubing. A gas-like
natural gas is released by chemical reaction that is changing the wood, and like
natural gas it is combustible.

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