The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2016.12.03 - Charcoal Delivery System

Running a charcoal heater on a boat, even a large one, is potentially a messy business. In such a small boat as Naiad, the 'potentially' part of the that last sentence becomes 'a really' and I wanted a method that would reduce the mess to a minimum. The times that are likely to be messy are filling the fire chamber with the starter charge and the fill after the starter is lit and then any subsequent fills. It is not possible to fill the heater in Naiad straight from a 5kg sack and buying charcoal in smaller bags is more expensive.

Searching around for advice quickly revealed that a brown paper back such as a lunch sack (the post was from am American) was a useful way of putting charcoal in the heater.

So, I devised my Charcoal Delivery system. I bought brown paper bags that were meant for wine bottles and a length of plastic tube the same diameter as the fire chamber on the heater and a little longer.

Here are the parts of the system.


The tube is placed in the paper bag. Not only does this stop the bag from collapsing or falling over or both when the charcoal is poured in, but it also prevents the relatively fragile bag from tearing as it is filled.


The correct amount of charcoal in put into the tube, in this case about an inch from the top...


...and the tube removed. The bag is bumped in the floor a couple of times to settle the charcoal which also leaves enough space to fold the top of the bag over and tape it with a small piece of sticky tape. Several of these can be made up in advance and stored in a dry place. When needed, say for a weekend trip, the correct number of filled bags are carefully put into a plastic bag and take to the boat.

The small size and weight of the bag means that it can easily be handled in the boat, the bag contains the correct amount of charcoal for one fill and the only mess you are going to make is if you drop the whole thing on the floor.

So don't.

It works a treat. The small size of the bags as mean that they are much more easily stowed that a 5kg sack of charcoal would be.

If you are careful you can reused the paper bag but at £6 per hundred that is not really too much of a concern.

And the mess stays in the wet room where it can easily be swept up or vacuumed.