Bluebell Coppice Charcoal
A Truly Sustainable Source
Scroll down

The Process of Charcoal Making

Based in Somerset, we make our charcoal the traditional way in steel kilns, which we set up as near to our supply of cut seasoned wood as possible. The process consists of cutting and splitting the logs into suitable sizes and then arranging the inside the kiln so as to pack as much as possible inside whilst maintaining the free movement of air within the kiln which we control during the burn. We often light the kilns during the night because we need it to be daylight when we shut the kiln down.

Once the kiln is full we light it and allow it to burn freely for an hour or so whilst the temperature increases and the initial water in the wood is driven off, a lot of white steam is visible at this stage. After the 'free burn' the lid is closed and the chimneys are fitted to four of the eight inlet ports at the base of the kiln, the remaining four ports are temporarily blocked until we move the chimneys to them after a couple of hours.  

Over the next 8 hours or so swap the chimneys occasionally and constantly monitor the temperature of the kiln and adjust the amount of air getting into the kiln as necessary to ensure it is burning evenly. Restricting the oxygen means that the process of Pyrolysis takes place in which the water and impurities are driven out of the wood much of which is then burnt as wood gas within the kiln sustaining the process. Later in the day we monitor the smoke from the chimneys waiting for it to go a translucent blue/grey colour. This is why we light the kilns at night because if we run out of daylight we would not be able to see the colour of the smoke. This indicates that the charcoal is ready and we not shut of all the air by removing the chimneys and blocking every gap thing very tightly with fine sand, if we left the slightest hole it would all turn to ash.

After a couple of days the kiln is cold and we can open it up and remove the charcoal and get very very dirty! (full protective gear worn of course)