What Binders are Suitable for Making High Quality Charcoal Briquettes

Briquetting process converts low bulk density biomass materials into high density fuel briquettes. In the briquetting plant, in order to make high quality biochar briquette, you can compress ground charcoal burned from sawdust and other wood by-products  into briquettes along with a binder and other additives that helps the briquette to burn. The selection of binder and additives is related to the quality and cost of the charcoal briquettes.

5 Binders to make high quality charcoal briquettes

Charcoal is totally lack of plasticity, thus it needs addition of a binding material to hold the briquette together for transportation, briquette forming and storage. Every particle of biochar is coated with binder, which enhances charcoal adhesion and produces identical briquettes. After the wet pressed briquettes are dried, the completing the binding operation. Starch, clay, molasses and gum Arabic are common types of briquette binders.

Starch is the most common binder though it is usually expensive. It doesn’t have to be an food grade. In general, about 4-8% of starch is needed to make the briquettes. Starch sources can be corn starch, wheat starch, maize flour, wheat flour, rice flour, cassava flour, potato starch, etc. To use the starch as a binder, you must first gelatinize the starch, which add starch to water and heat it to form a sticky consistency, then adding to the mixer to be mixed with the charcoal powder.

Clay is widely available available at almost no cost in many areas. A briquette can contain about 15% of clay. Clay does not add to the heating value of the briquette. If you add too much clay, the briquette will ignite and burn poorly or not at all. Besides, clay will turn into ash after burning, which blocks the passage of radiant heat, resulting in the loss ofheating value of the charcoal.

Gum Arabic, also known as acacia gum, is a natural gum harvested from acacia tree, which is very common in Africa Sahel, especially Senegal, Sudan, Somalia, etc. Gum Arabic is successfully being used as binder material for charcoal briquette. It does not emit heavy smoke, nor is thermal treatment that need.

Molasses is a by-product of the sugarcane industry. One tonne of briquettes needs about 20-25% molasses. Briquettes binded by molasses burn well, but have an unpleasant smell during combustion. To avoid this, thermal treatment can be applied before using the briquette, which is also called’ ‘curing”.

Wood tar arises during the carbonization process and recovering them from stationary kilns and retorts. Pitch is a viscous liquid that remains after the dstillation of coal tar. Tar is more liquid while pitch is more solid. Both of them require re-carbonization to avoid the emission of heavy smoke which may generate adverse health.

binders to make high quality charcoal briquette

Besides, cow dung and paper pulp also can be the binding material for briquettes. Cow dung is available mainly in farms. Waste papers are torn to small pieces and soaked in water to form a gelatinized paste.

Do you have other additives to add for quality biochar briquette making?

Besides the binding materials, you can also add some additives to prolong the burning time of biochar briquettes.

Sodium nitrate as binder to make charcoal briquette


Briquettes are not able to absorb sufficient oxygen for faster combustion due to compaction. Sodium nitrate gives out oxygen when heated, so it is used as ignition aid for briquettes, helping the briquettes to light faster. Needing about 3-4% of sodium nitrate for briquetting. Sawdust burns quickly and is also used as ignition aid. The amount of sawdust needed is about 10-20%.

Ash-whitening Agent

White ash color looks nicer and acts as a signal that the briquettes are ready to cook on. A 2-3% lime, limestone or calcium carbonate is sufficient to make the ashes turn white. They are not heat fuels but can lower the burning rate to make the briquettes burn longer.

calcium carbonate and limestone as binders for making biochar briquette
sodium borate and borax as binders to produce biochar briquette

Press Release Agent

Using borax or sodium borate in small amounts to help briquettes release from the manufacturing presses. But it is not necessary to use this press release agent if you are using simple press or manual press. It is only necessary when using a high speed and high pressure briquette making machine.

In order to mix these binders and additives with charcoal powder evenly, charcoal mixer is necessary. In YS, we can provide you with types of biochar blending machines for your choice.

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