Making the most of it.
Once a familiar sight in the countryside, the art of the charcoal maker is now rarely seen. The charcoal made here uses waste wood often left over from coppiced material which is either too gnarly or of undesirable size for other crafts. It’s great for barbeques and still used today by artists, jewelers and bronze smelters. Making use of the otherwise waste wood is another benefit to managing the coppices for nature conservation. This is not to underestimating the value of deadwood. Leaving some stacks and piles of deadwood creates more habitats for nesting and hibernating wildlife.
The 6 foot round steel kiln is assembled with its chimneys and shafts in place to allow air to circulate to the centre of the kiln, and acts as a funnel when lighting. The logs are then placed over and around the shafts leaving a central void to be filled with kindling; this ensures the fire burns evenly right to the centre.
The logs are loaded with the fewest gaps possible to make for a more efficient burn until it reaches just over the top edge of the kiln to allow for the logs to drop and shift a little before the lid is fitted tightly over the fully stacked kiln.
The kiln is ignited via its external shafts and very quickly begins to produce a lot of white and brown smoke. The smoke is mainly steam boiling off from the wood, mixed with the tars, resins and other volatile chemicals. The aim is to have enough air flowing through the kiln to maintain a high temperature but not so much that too much of the wood is burnt too quickly, reducing the yield.
As the burn continues you will begin to see the white smoke lessen and eventually cease as all of the water and volatile gases are driven off. After several hours the white smoke will becomes a wispier blue. This is when the kiln is then ready to be starved of oxygen and “shut down”. A tight seal is made around the lid using sand. Once the kiln is sealed it is then left to cook until all that remains is the charcoal, this must be continually monitored, taking up to 12-14 hours.
Our charcoal can be found at a number of local shops in Haslemere, alternatively contact us directly to purchase our environmentally friendly, sustainable charcoal. By purchasing our charcoal you are helping to look after special places like Swan Barn Farm and Black Down.