Charcoal (material)

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See also: Charcoal (art)

Charcoal, when made as an ingredient or fuel, comes from the slow heatening and blackening of wood. The temperature is generally lower than used for the destructive distillation of wood in making methanol.

Gunpowder use

When prepared for black gunpowder, the charcoal must be finely divided. Softwood from pines works best for fast burning.


For grilling and barbecueing, charcoal fuels are made from fragrant woods such as mesquite.

Charcoal briquettes are formed, with an adhesive, for long burning in cooking fires. This is the antithesis of the charcoal needed in black gunpowder. Many complain they have a chemical aftertaste from the binder, and especially if they are impregnated with an igniter.

Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal, as a chemical reagent, is heated to drive off adsorbed chemicals. It may then be treated with additional chemicals to encourage absorption, such as cupric sulfate for gas masks.