How is Charcoal Made from Wood?
On the surface, charcoal appears to be a pretty basic product. However, it has been used for centuries for a large range of purposes: cooking, medicine, art and even makeup. Nowadays when we think of charcoal we immediately think of our barbecues and the wonderful food we can produce with it. But have you ever wondered how charcoal is made?
The process of making charcoal is not as simple as you might think, there is a multi-step process that requires various factors that may affect the process. These factors include air viability, temperature and of course the wood. The burning process takes place in a large steel kiln, then once the dry wood is split into pieces and stacked nearly to the top of the charcoal chamber, the kiln is closed and covered over with an insulating layer.
A small fire is then started within the combustion chamber resulting in the chimney producing wet, low-temperature steam. The reason for maintaining the fire is to generate heat for clearing out any water and impurities that may remain in the wood by using up the oxygen coming into the kiln. After some time, the smoke produced from the chimney will almost be clear, this means that the water is gone and the wood is almost converted to charcoal.
However, if the kiln is opened while the charcoal is still hot, it will cause it to combust. Therefore, the kiln has to be cool before the charcoal can be removed. The process takes around 14 hours from start to finish but produces ready to use lumpwood charcoal.
Unlike lumpwood, briquettes are not pure carbon. During the beginning of the process, the wood is moved onto a conveyor belt and is entered into a wood hog which feeds the retort for char. After this, the wood is then dried and packed. The charring process then occurs when the wood is burned in a furnace, forming a manageable material that is used to create a briquette. Once the charcoal is soft and warm, it is then put into a dryer set at approximately 300°C. Eventually, the soft briquette will come out hard and that is when they are ready to be bagged.
At The Green Olive Firewood Company, we now offer West Sussex Charcoal made at our Ridge Farm West Sussex. We use the same local woods that we use for our firewood. We heat it and starve it of oxygen in a charcoal retort that has friendly low emissions and is powered by our waste wood.
Our professional and restaurant-quality charcoal is from both olive wood and the she-oak tree which is one of the fastest-growing dense hardwoods that can grow in a harsh environment. Making it perfectly renewable and sustainable for the industry. This tree has been identified for active climate protection in Europe and a project has begun in Egypt see here for more information. Any charcoal we import is from managed woodlands or waste wood from farms such as fruit farms etc.
For more information, check out our previous blogs.
We pride ourselves on ensuring quality and responsibility across our supply chain to deliver to you the best possible lumpwood and briquette charcoal here in the UK. See our natural range. To stay up to date with everything we do, follow us on Instagram and Twitter!