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Treacodactyl

British sustainable charcoal

Does anyone know places that stock UK hardwood charcoal? I can't really make enough at the moment and I never buy imported stuff but I've not seen any UK charcoal in the local shops / garden centres and wondered if there's any mainstream shops that stock it?
alison

http://www.bulworthyproject.org.uk/
Treacodactyl

Where are the details of where you can buy it from? I might be able to pick some up next time I'm passing but it would be useful to know any chains of stores that stock UK made charcoal. I'm sure some used to but I've not seen any this year.
alison

No idea, when I met them they were offering to have it delivered.

I am sure they could to tell you, they were very friendly.
Tavascarow

You could try your local nature conservation trusts & the woodland trust.
Ty Gwyn

Not sure where your located,but Alchemist,over on RC makes Charcoal,from Hardwoods.
Think she`s North of Portsmouth,and sells in local markets.
Jamanda

The garage in Torrington sells local stuff which is very good. There's also Bulworthy Project who occasionally posts on here who is up near Tiverton. I'll forward the PM he sent me with his details.
RichardW

Just light your fire earlier & you then dont need any.
Treacodactyl

The garage in Torrington sells local stuff which is very good. There's also Bulworthy Project who occasionally posts on here who is up near Tiverton. I'll forward the PM he sent me with his details.


Thanks, I'll see what's around next time I go past.

Richard, yes I do sometimes use wood but it's not ideal with close neighbours as even well seasoned hardwood produces a fair bit of smoke. Also charcoal is quicker when you want it to be.

The question is also a general one. Yes I can make my own, use wood or track down a local supplier in my travels but what about the average person? One who uses supermarkets, garden centres etc - does anyone know if any of the large shops stock UK charcoal?
nats

Sainsburys!!
tahir

Sainsburys!!


B&Q occasionally
dpack

bott's pal makes charcoal in south wales ,quality stuff Nicky Colour it green

Devon charcoal.. this is Bulworthy project again bulworthy project

Where are you? We may have an outlet nearby, or may know a charcoal maker near you. I wouldn't want you to have to resort to Sainsbury or B&Q.

Thanks to everyone who has mentioned us!!
Treacodactyl

I'm in north Surrey at the moment but do occasionally drive up the A361. As Sainsburys is my local shop here and they've just given me a large amount of vouchers I'll take a look and I'll keep an eye out in Devon as well. bulworthy project

Don't know any charcoal makers in Surrey and we don't have any outlets there, but if you want to drop in and pick some up, that's cool. You might even get a free cup of tea. Treacodactyl

I was hoping to visit when we get some time so I'll buy some bags then.

Out of curiosity, what sort of hardwoods do you use to make your charcoal?
bulworthy project

We try to get a good mix in each batch. At the moment there is lots of oak (good but has a tendancy to blow apart in the kiln)
and hornbeam (very attractive dense charcoal),
but also birch(Lights easily, burns hot) ,
ash (good charcaol, less dense but burns hot),
hawthorn(great dense charcoal),
sycamore (another dense charcoal),
beech (lovely tarry smell when in kiln, great charcoal),
At times we use
alder (very attractive charcoal, lights quickly and burns hot),
goat willow (Lights quickly),
wild cherry (very attractive wood that makes an ok charcoal, not much ends up in the kiln),
blackthorn (Good, hot charcoal)
and hazel (good, dense charcoal that burns hot).

Other types of willow than goat willow tend to spark lots and we've been told that sweet chestnut is no good.
Treacodactyl

Thanks for the details, I ask as I've got a few acres of goat willow and old hazel that I plan to cut and regenerate, a few acres of alder that might get thinned and the long term plan is to make my own charcoal one day. Treacodactyl

Well I picked up a bag of UK charcoal from a service station I was visiting. The bag is stamped with a "The Coppice Association" mark but I cannot find any details about them and there's no producer details on the bag, which is a shame. Anyone know anything about them?

The charcoal is very good and a little lasts a long time. It's also ideal as it literally only takes a couple of minutes before I can cook over it.

Hopefully when I need some more I can pick it up from Bulworthy next time.
bulworthy project

The Coppice Association no longer exists, but the bags are still for sale. This is useful for small scale charcoal producers who do not want to invest in the 5000 bags that you need to buy to get your own design printed. (You can get 2500 printed at a time, but the process used cannot be relied on to get the print in the right place).
The trouble is that unless the producer puts their name on the bag, it could be made by anyone, so you buy a good bag of charcoal one time and then another bag of poor quality charcoal in the same bag.
It is a shame that whoever made your bag of charcoal did not put their name on it as they make good charcoal and it would be good for people to know who they are.
Mistress Rose

Thanks for the plug TG.

If you want charcoal in Surrey, try Surrey and Sussex Coppice Craftsmens Group. http://coppicegroup.wordpress.com/

Some of them might sell through larger shops, but most of their charcoal producers will sell through local shops and garden centres.

The Coppice Association is sadly defunct, but there are moves afoot to try to launch a National Coppice Federation. As coppice workers tend to be rather independantly minded, this is taking some time.
sean

Tried some of bulworthy project's charcoal yesterday. Excellent quality, thoroughly recommended. Hairyloon

Can you make charcoal out of rhodedendron and if not, why not?
It seems to me to be a pretty big problem in a lot of places, and this may help towards a solution.
bulworthy project

I have never heard of anyone making charcoal out of rhododendron and don't know what the end result would be like, but the smoke is toxic and monitoring the kiln would require serious breathing apparatus. Hairyloon

I have never heard of anyone making charcoal out of rhododendron and don't know what the end result would be like, but the smoke is toxic and monitoring the kiln would require serious breathing apparatus.
All smoke is toxic. It is the biggest killer in domestic fires.
oldish chris

I have never heard of anyone making charcoal out of rhododendron and don't know what the end result would be like, but the smoke is toxic and monitoring the kiln would require serious breathing apparatus.
All smoke is toxic. It is the biggest killer in domestic fires. As my old grandma used to say "you can't do right for doing wrong". The problem with charcoal production is the smoke produced. Soot is a major contributor to global warming: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110831205919.htm Hairyloon

Easy enough: just put a condenser on the chimney. Hairyloon

Easy enough: just put a condenser on the chimney. bulworthy project

I have never heard of anyone making charcoal out of rhododendron and don't know what the end result would be like, but the smoke is toxic and monitoring the kiln would require serious breathing apparatus.
All smoke is toxic. It is the biggest killer in domestic fires. As my old grandma used to say "you can't do right for doing wrong". The problem with charcoal production is the smoke produced. Soot is a major contributor to global warming: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110831205919.htm

The vast majority of the clouds of smoke produced when making charcoal is steam that is driven off the wood before carbonisation. Although there are some particulates and volotile chemicals released much of the particulate contents of the smoke condenses on the side of the kiln during the burn and solidifies. However even a small amount of rhodedendron smoke is highly toxic.
oldish chris

I'm the curious type. Just googled "rhododendron smoke". Found "Report of the rhododendron feasibility study" by the School of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor. Toxicity gets a mention right up the front in the executive summary:
Quote:
However, the amounts found suggest that it is highly unlikely that any grayanotoxin will be found in charcoal so it can be considered as safe as any other charcoal for food preparation.


www.wildresources.co.uk/reports/rhodo_eng.pdf
Hairyloon

Small world. I studied there. bulworthy project

From what I have read in a brief scan of the report, it does seem that the charcoal would be relatively safe to make and use. However they do say that further tests are needed and I think that we'll stick to the tried and tested hardwoods. If anyone else made and used rhodedendron charcoal, I'd be interested in what they thought of it. oldish chris

From what I have read in a brief scan of the report, it does seem that the charcoal would be relatively safe to make and use. However they do say that further tests are needed and I think that we'll stick to the tried and tested hardwoods. If anyone else made and used rhodedendron charcoal, I'd be interested in what they thought of it. My immediate reaction to the comment about the toxicity of rhododendron smoke was "what's so special about a rhododendron?". Quite a few (most?) plants contain toxins, usually to discourage insects,
Quote:
In considering the differences between softwoods, hardwoods and exotics, sawdust from hardwoods, especially from the exotic species, are sensitizers and can cause allergic skin reactions, eye inflammation, hay fever, asthma, coughing and respiratory diseases. Highly toxic species include the giant sequoia, hemlock, yews, cypress, cork oak and other oaks, beech, rosewoods, some maples, redwoods and western red cedar.
according to http://www.woodweb.com/knowledge_base/Danger_in_the_Woods.html . Wood turners should take precautions, but, at a guess, the biggest danger to charcoal users would be the smoke generated during charcoal manufacture. Pound to a penny it contains: hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and on a bad day, dioxins.
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