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OT: Charcoal Briquette Making(Pics)

Weekend WarriorWeekend Warrior Posts: 1,702
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
I buy my lump by the pallet from Humphrey Charcoal in Brookville, PA. Today, I asked for, and was given a quick tour of the briquette making plant, so I thought I would share, realizing most of you would never have("take" might be a better word) the opportunity. There is no better word to describe the place than filthy, but no one would expect anything less. It is also hotter than Hades due to the gas-fired dryers that dry the briquettes on a long enclosed conveyor after they've been molded. Most of the time I was walking in inch deep charcoal dust that would "puff up" around my feet with each footstep.

The office on the main road

Turning in the drive to the plant

A couple of the buildings

The hopper where the char is mixed with starch, sodium nitrate.

The starch and sodium nitrate

It's hard to see, but this machine crushes and mixes the char with the other indredients and water is added at this stage. (notice how filthy the worker is here and others were worse). You couldn't pay me enough to work in this place.

This is the machine that actually molds the briquettes. The bright, shiny things are the molds.

This is where the briquettes emerge from the drying conveyor. The drying process takes about 3 hours and the heat is produced by six gas fired blowers. It is UNBELIEVABLY HOT in this area. Anymore than a few minutes at a time standing in this area and you would start to burn. I apologize for the quality of the pic here, but my camera lens was getting loaded up with coal dust.

These are a couple of the old bee hives. They have not manufactured lump at this location for a number of years due to PA's stringent air quality regs, but the bee hives are where the lump used to be made. The Humphrey lump is trucked in from a mfg in Missouri in raw form, then graded, sized and packaged in Brookville.

A couple of shots of the warehouse

This was my fourth trip to buy lump from Humphrey's and I've gotten to know them a bit. They are a great little company and Gary, the shop foreman, treats me almost like family. I hope you enjoyed this brief tour of the briquette making process and their facilities.


PS. Oh, and before you ask, the lump is $8.44 per 20 lb. bag. :woohoo:


  • Spring ChickenSpring Chicken Posts: 10,255
    Cool... Uh I mean Hot!


    Spring "Brick-Eates" Chicken
    Spring Texas USA
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    Nice photo essay, Mark. I used to work in the rubber industry and, depending on the plant, the black-handling and mixing areas weren't too terribly different from what you've described here. If I worked for any length of time in either, it would take at least two showers to get clean at night.
  • LotharLothar Posts: 30
    Looks like it would make a good episode of Dirty Jobs! Has Mike Rowe ever done a show on making charcoal? I don't think I've seen one but I know I haven't seen every episode.
  • FlaPoolmanFlaPoolman Posts: 11,676
    great tour Mark,, I remember as kids my brother and I playing in the basement coal bin for the house heat :whistle: dirty is an understatement :laugh:
  • Weekend WarriorWeekend Warrior Posts: 1,702
    Thanks Brad. It was cool to see the process, but something appalled me that I didn't want to say in the original post.....none of the workers were wearing breathing masks. The coal dust in the air was so thick, it was choking me at times. The lungs of these guys must be something to see on an x-ray. I understand why they don't wear them, because a mask would just make them hotter than they already are. I don't know how they do it. I was wilting from the heat of the dryers in seconds. I hesitate to guess what the temperature was in the drying area, but it was WELL over 120 degrees I'll bet. Dirty Jobs was right on the money.
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,172
    He did one or two shows at Streumph's charcoal in south-central Missouri. They manufacture Fire King -- a really good lump.
  • HungryManHungryMan Posts: 3,470
    That was my first thought with the dust. Thanks for the tour.
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817

    Thanks for that! Love to see old mechanical ewuipment still in action. Been in a few dirty places myself so I can empathise with the guys. You would think they would wear masks though.



    Caledon, ON


  • Big'unBig'un Posts: 5,909
    Really enjoyed that! Thanks.
  • cookn bikercookn biker Posts: 13,407
    Thanks for sharing, cool indeed!! I saw a show on PBS on how lump charcoal is made. That was fun to watch.
    Imagine what comes out of their noses and what goes in their lungs...ewww
    Colorado Springs
    "Loney Queen"
    "Respect your fellow human being, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it."
    Bill Bradley; American hall of fame basketball player, Rhodes scholar, former U.S. Senator from New Jersey
    LBGE, MBGE, SBGE , MiniBGE and a Mini Mini BGE
  • Weekend WarriorWeekend Warrior Posts: 1,702
    Steven, the foreman that I mentioned, Gary, talks/sounds like he's been smoking for 40 years. I've never seen him with a cigarette or smelled smoke on him..........He's going to pay some day.
  • isn't that the place where Mike Rowe went for 'Dirty Jobs'?
  • Clay QClay Q Posts: 4,443
    Hey Mark, thanks for the tour. I'm always interested in how things are made. I learn something new every time I view this forum. :)
    And that's a great price for a 20# bag!
  • thebtlsthebtls Posts: 2,300
    Thanks for the tour. I would love to see a beehive in action someday...I'd like to play around with one in my back yard even if I had some welding tools an a couple of steel barrels...maybe someday.
    Visit my blog, dedicated to my Big Green Egg Recipies at You can also follow my posts on FaceBook under the name Keep On Eggin' or the link!/pages/Keep-On-Eggin/198049930216241
  • Jai-BoJai-Bo Posts: 584
    Looks like a dirty job fer Mike Rowe???? :laugh:

    Thanks fer the info and pics!..... Cheap fer a 20lb bag...what's the breakdown fer a pallet???
    Hunting-Fishing-Cookin' on my EGG! Nothing else compares!
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