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Barrel Firing April 2021

At last!  We were able to have the first group event for a long time (other than via Zoom).

It wasn’t warm but at least the rain held off (It did have a small flurry of snow overnight) and we certainly missed having the warmth of the barrels when we unpacked on Sunday.

Dividing ourselves up into two groups of five to comply with Covid rules we loaded and lit one of the two barrels in the morning and the second in the afternoon.  These are very large drums, originally holding chopped tomatoes, which were sold on Ebay as garden incinerators.

They are getting a bit rusty after three firings but have probably got a few more firings in them yet.  

The first barrel was started with paper and sawdust then kindling followed by the prepared pots and smaller wood gradually loading the barrel.  This proved to be a little difficult to light via the paper spills that had been put into the air holes.  Having watched it smoking for quite a while it was persuaded into life with half a cupful of methylated spirit (white spirit didn’t seem to work).


Having learned from this, the afternoon barrel was loaded with a ‘nest’ of very small twigs to allow air to flow at the bottom followed by small kindling then sawdust, more kindling and finally the pots.  Topped off with larger wood each of the airholes at the bottom had a ‘flamer’ wax and woodwool lighter pushed in.  These were lit and the barrel was blazing in a matter of minutes.

Each barrel was stoked for at least one hour until we had a deep and very hot ember bed and then a sheet of corrugated steel was placed on top (held in place by some bricks to deter any fox from investigating).  

The following morning the first barrel was unloaded

and the results cleaned up with panscrubs and

where possible waxed.

Not too may breaks but a serious mistake on my part.  I put in some hardwood stretchers from and old table which still had their aluminum bolts inside.  Don’t worry I said, aluminium doesn’t melt below 1200⁰C.  WRONG, aluminium melts at 660⁰C.  Terri has been very good about the ‘pearl’ that got added to her coral piece.

Amazingly the second barrel was still hot when we unpacked it and I couldn’t throw the small amount of ash and wire away until Monday!

Some of the results:




Spot the ‘pearl’