Make charcoal and biochar today, with a homemade retort! You are just a few easy steps away from producing your own high quality biochar. Listed below are easy to follow step-by-step instructions explaining how to make your own retort.

Easily make your own retort

The first thing you need is a Hi-Temp. Mini-Incinerator as a heat source. If you do not have an incinerator please click here.


1) Purchase a brand new 5 gal steel pail and cover from any local paint supply store. 2) Remove the gasket and plastic handle as well as the bucket coating. (Search for local bead blasting companies.)

5 Gallon Retort

Rubber Gasket
3) Using your power drill with a 1/8” drill bit, two holes approximately 1” apart, right below the first rib of the pail just under the first rib as shown. Drill 3 more sets of holes every 90 degrees.
(These holes help to relieve pressure and prevent injury. Check out the close up photo of 2 of 8 holes.)
Holes Holes

Listed below are easy to follow step-by-step instructions of how to make your own bio-char and charcoal.

Items needed:

  • Retort
  • Biomass, dried preferably (Using a chipper or wood shredder to reduce the size of your biomass before charring will produce ideal biochar pieces.)
  • Hi-Temp Mini-Incinerator, the heat source
  • Yard waste as fuel
  • Storage containers for storing charcoal and biochar
  • Note: View our safety precautions
1) Dry your biomass, if it is not thoroughly dried already. This will help preserve energy and make the burning process go more quickly

Place your biomass in your retort.
• Use larger pieces of wood to make charcoal
• Use a chipper/shredder to reduce yard waste to make biochar

2) Place the lid firmly on your pail and firmly press in the cover tabs.
Wood Upside Down

3) Fill your Hi-Temp Mini-Incinerator with burnables. Light and insert the spark arrestor, dome side down. Place 5 gallon Retort upside down with holes at the bottom. Note the flame at the bottom of the retort is from burning gases.

4) The charring process times depend on the biomass selected and moisture content. After charring let your retort cool completely. Store in a air tight galvanized container.

Burning Retort BioChar Ready
Charred Scarp Wood Charred wood, larger pieces
Finished Biochar Finished Biochar
Homemade charcoal being used for grilling Charred biomass, the finished product
Finished Biochar Finished Biochar
Charred small branches, pine needles and other shredded/chipped yard waste Charred hay
Finished Biochar Finished Biochar

If you would like to receive information about creating biochar and charcoal with your
Hi-Temp. Mini-Incinerator, please send us your information and we will put you on our mailing list.