How to make your own wood vinegar with a Cookswell Kiln

 Pyroligneous acid is the name of the crude condensate and consists mainly of water. 
The non-water component consists of wood tars, both water soluble and insoluble, acetic acid, methanol, acetone and other complex chemicals in small amounts. If left to stand, the pyroligneous acid separates into two layers comprising the water insoluble tar and a watery layer containing the remaining chemicals.

Recovery of chemicals from the vapours given off when hardwood is converted to charcoal was once a flourishing industry. However, as soon as petrochemicals appeared on the scene, wood as a source of methanol, acetic acid, speciality tars and preservatives became uneconomic. Wherever charcoal is made the possibility of recovering by-products should be discussed.


By adding a simple metal pipe to a Cookswell drum kiln - you can collect appx. 1 liter of wood vinegar per 9 hour cycle. 




Simple decant it into bottles and let the tars settle for a few weeks. 


Specific Farm Uses for Wood Vinegar

The Appropriate Technology Association of Thailand recommends the following wood vinegar/water solution rates for various farm uses:

• Repel nematodes – Tomatoes, 1:500 (apply to the base of plants); strawberries, 1:200 (apply to the base of plants); and black pepper vines,
1:1500 (apply in place of water).
• Repel insect pests – Cabbage and Chinese cabbage, 1:1500 (apply in place of water); corn 1:300 (spray onto leaves).
• Control of fungal diseases – Tomato and cucumber, 1:200 (spray onto leaves).
• Control of root rot – Tomato and cucumber, 1:200 (apply to the base of plants).
• Reduce incidence of chili pepper flowers aborting – 1:300 (spray onto leaves).
• Improve flavor of sweet fruits and stimulate development of crops. Mix solution rates of 1:500 to 1:1000. Wood vinegar prevents excessive
nitrogen levels, improves plant metabolism and contributes to higher fruit sugar levels.
• Stimulate compost production. A solution rate of 1:100 will help increase the biological activity of various beneficial microbes and can
decrease composting times.
• Combat bad odor. A wood vinegar solution of 1:50 will diminish the production of odor-causing ammonia in animal pens.
• Supplement for livestock feed. Mixed with livestock feed at rates of between 1:200 and 1:300, wood vinegar can adjust bacterial levels in
the animal digestive tract which improve the absorption of nutrients from feed.
• Enrich garden soil. Use a strong solution of 1:30 to apply to the garden soil surface at a rate of 6 liters of solution per 1m² to enrich the soil
prior to planting crops. To control soil-based plant pathogens, use an even stronger rate of application. 


Composition and Characteristics of Wood Vinegar
Nikhom reports that wood vinegar yield per metric ton (2200 lbs.) of air dry wood is 314 kg (690.8 lbs.). The product contains approximately
200 components. These include:
• Alcohol (methanol, butanol, amylalcohol)
• Acid (acetic, formic, propioinic, valeric)
• Neutral substances such as formaldehyde, acetone, furfural, valerolactone
• Phenols (syringol, cresol, phenol)
• Basic substances such as ammonia, methyl amine, pyridine
He also describes quality wood vinegar as having the following characteristics (most of which may require special laboratory instruments
or methodology to determine):
• pH of approximately 3.0
• Specific gravity between 1.005-1.050
• Color ranging from pale yellow to bright brown to reddish brown
• Transparent
• Smoky odor
• Dissolved tar content: less than 3 percent
• Ignition residue: less than 0.2 percent by weight




The most portable oven in the world!

 A million thanks to the incredible team from The Mt Kenya Trust who took one of our ovens up to the top of the mountain as part of their FUNdraiser for the Horse Patrol Team!







A FUNdraiser lunch for the Mount Kenya Trusts Horse Patrol Team!

Mr. Gibbon from the Mt Kenya Trust - First man to climb a mountain with a charcoal oven EVER! Seen here at Point Lenana! 



Incredible 12 hour slow smoked brisket from The-Well-Hung-Butcher-Ltd from Kisima

a perfect bark

low&slow is the way to go! 




And a pork shoulder from Tambuzi Farms! 





And a the first frog to ride a horse as a raffle prize from Cookswell jikos 

Eco-charcoal making in Laikipia at Ol Pejeta - Eco- charcoal making made easy!


A demonstration of making maize cob and branch charcoal using the green cap charcoal kiln (to purchase please see  http://cookswell.co.ke/ecommerce/category/kilns ) at Ol Pejeta. 





Making a bag and a half of charcoal in a day with out any of the hassle of traditional charcoal making. 

As a comparison to traditional charcoal making - right next door was this kind old mzee who says he would make only 4 bags in a week of back breaking labor! 





Safari Cooking with Cookswell!

Just in time for lunchtime! 

The camp followers ;) 

Setting up camp in the magical Samburu National Reserve

the dynamic duo 

the optional hot water tank - a must have for serious campers. 

the morning view from the camp kitchen :) 

lunch became a 3 day event for these lucky lions! 

lunch became a 3 day event for us as well! 


A drink of water is always handy! 

The best kitchen in the world is the great outdoors! 

The Launch of the Baking as a Business in Kenya book from the Amari Quick Breads Bakery!

We were very pleased to attended the wonderful launch of the Amari Bakery ''How to start a bakery business- successfully!'' book at the Maisha Poa Center in Kawangware on Sat the 13th. 
There was also a fantastic presentation on entrepreneurship in East Africa from the Kuza Biashara Team and a thorough presentation on the legal and tax/liabilities side of setting small business in Kenya from Munyao and Partners Advocates


Happy baking to all of Kenya's entrepreneurs!