Question: What do you do with charcoal from a water filter?

permaculturegardener is asking a question about general
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by permaculturegardener | September 26, 2019 18:43 | #21011

I am writing a course on bioremediation in the soil and we are talking a lot about charcoal for soil and water filters. We are teaching how to make water filters in class and I am wondering what to do with the charcoal after it has been used to remove toxin. We are working in petroleum impacted community's in Ecuador so the toxins are pretty intense and varied.


Does your area have organized hazardous waste pickup or management, such as for motor oil, paint, e-waste, etc? If so, you could contact them and figure out if they offer pick up services or drop-off hours at their site. If not, please write back here as well.

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I thank you so much for your response. We do not really have that here, and considering the track record of how the authoritys in Ecuador deal with toxins I am not sure I would trust that option. I am dismayed that after a few hours of research I have not found an alternative to this option. I am writing a course is for impacted communities that are facing mammoth forms of contamination. I am writing it to offer basic applicable, accessible approaches to soil bioremediation. What to do with the charcoal and the hyper accumulated heavy metals in plants presents a huge hurtle to healing this land. This is the theory we came up with.
My husband is a chemist and an artist who has had an extensive career in the fields of ceramics, its history and glazes. He works to understand the the complex issue of heavy metal exposure and glazes. There is a style of kiln called an anagama that was used extensively in Japan, China, and Korea, that is fuel efficient to its volume and achieves temperatures from that are not possible with most fuel types. At the peak of firing all gases are re burned and the metals fuse with the ceramics making beautiful colors and patterns. Our Hypothesis is that if you throw the contaminated dried plants/mushrooms/charcoal in at the peeks of firing that the metals would chemically alter and fuse into the pottery rendering them safe.
A same kiln style could be used for making biochar as the air flow is tightly controllable.

Please i would love feedback on this idea. I'm going to research more scientific articles about this.

Again Liz thank you for your input. I am losing sleep over this topic at the moment and I really appreciate the engagement.

Does your kiln do "re-gasification"? Like, pulling in the smoke/fumes/vapor/gases that are released and burning them also? Like a rocket stove? If so, then maaaaaaybe but I really don't know

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It very much does reburning, It reaches tempatures that can not be reached by many form of fuel, it can reach in what in cermics is called cone 12, or 2,400F
It is also quite long and reburns all the gases, it is said that what comes our it co2 and everything else in the smoke is bound in the clay.

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There are some glazes that are still not fit for use as drinking vessels or for holding food. We are going to send this around to some pottery studios to ask, please do the same.

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