Make your own drawing charcoal

with Craig Cockcroft (

If you’re running low on supplies, or even just want to experiment, these sticks work perfectly and are quick and easy to make.

STEP 1: Cut olive or grapevine branches & twigs about 6 – 15mm in diameter and 120mm in length. Note that the size of the twigs reduces by about 50% in the baking process.

STEP 2: Trim off the green bark with a sharp knife. DO NOT USE YOUR WIFE’S FAVOURITE KITCHEN KNIFE!

STEP 3: Place the twigs into an old metal coffee tin or similar container (preferably with a lid). I used an old Prince Albert Olive Oil can and fashioned a lid using tin foil. Using a nail, punch a small hole or two into the top of the can – this will allow the twig sap vapours to escape.

STEP 4: Make a fire. Place the can of twigs into the fire and ‘cook’, turning the can every so often to distribute the heat. After about 30 minutes, the sap gases/vapour will start escaping from the can. 

STEP 5: After about 45 minutes of “cooking” remove the can from the fire and allow it to cool for 30 minutes.

Step 6: Carefully remove your charcoal sticks and do a test drawing.

Even my old olive oil can looks like a work of art after the charcoal stick cookout!

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