A continuous process for the conversion of biomass to form a chemical feedstock is described. The biomass and an exogenous metal oxide, preferably calcium oxide, or metal oxide precursor are continuously fed into a reaction chamber that is operated at a temperature of at least 1400.degree. C. to form reaction products including metal carbide. The metal oxide or metal oxide precursor is capable of forming a hydrolizable metal carbide. The reaction products are quenched to a temperature of 800.degree. C. or less. The resulting metal carbide is separated from the reaction products or, alternatively, when quenched with water, hydolyzed to provide a recoverable hydrocarbon gas feedstock.