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Rawhaw produced charcoal
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Charcoal and its production at Rawhaw Wood

Charcoal is one of the oldest chemical processes know to mankind, without it we could not have had a bronze age or iron age, as it was not possible to heat the metal ores to a high enough temperature for smelting. The Rockingham forest has always been a major centre for the production of iron, with the early tribes of the area using bowl furnaces to produce metal for their tools and weapons. All three of the necessary components for the process an be found in the area, the timber to make the charcoal, iron ore to produce the metal and limestone to remove it impurities.

Charcoal is made by the controlled burning of wood, restricting the supply or air during the process. Throughout the burn, water and volatile compounds are driven off leaving charred wood in its almost pure carbon form, which when used as fuel burns with very little smoke and at about twice the temperature of wood.

Nowadays almost all the charcoal produced in this country is used for cooking on barbeques.

How we make charcoal at Rawhaw

  1. Billets of wood are cut and stacked ready to be loaded into the kiln. We mainly use Ash, Hazel, Oak and Field Maple.
  2. The timber is packed into the kiln, smaller diameter wood at the bottom, larger pieces towards the top.
  3. The kiln is then lit of 'fired'. It takes about an hour to get up to temperature.
  4. The lid is then lowered and the chimneys are put in place. Now air can be drawn into the kiln through four inlet ports. This slows the fire so that the timber is cooked and doesn't burn away into ash. The burn can take up to 30 hours, during which time the smoke changes colour, going from white to blue, at which point the burn is complete.
  5. When the kiln has cooled around 48 hours, the lid can be lifted. The centre of the kiln has burnt out leaving charcoaled wood around the edge.
  6. The charcoal is then graded and bagged ready to be sold.
 
 


Bags of Rawhaw Charcoal