Probably the easiest way to ensure the product you are buying is sustainable is to know where it comes from. Full traceability, from growing tree to charcoal on your barbecue and knowledge of all of the movements and processes in-between is the only way to avoid purchasing something that could be fuelling some of the problems highlighted above. At Slate Hill Charcoal Co. we are happy to show you every piece of the process that happens to produce your charcoal, whether through social media, our website or even a tour if you’re in the area!
The species of wood can be an insight into the origin of the product. In the UK, charcoal is traditionally made from deciduous hardwoods such as Ash, Beech and Alder for good reason; because they grow right here, on our doorstep. Some of these species don’t even have to be felled, but are harvested on a coppice rotation, allowing the tree to regenerate and providing a broad range of different habitats within a single area. If the tree has been felled then it is usually a requirement that there is a management plan in place, often requiring the replanting of similar native species.
Woodland management is key when it comes to sustainability, as Oliver Rackham notes in Woodlands (2006, pg 132) “The thesis that woods were destroyed by heavy industries cannot be sustained, on the contrary where ever there remained a big concentration of woodland, there is an industrial or urban use to account for its preservation. It was the ‘unexploited’ woods that disappeared from the map…Woodmanship is an ecological factor in its own right.”.
This bit comes down to you! With the amount of work that goes into producing our sustainable charcoal, primarily by the tree and nature itself, we ask that you use it efficiently. British hardwood charcoal burns hot and clean, meaning you can cook on it sooner than imported counterparts. Modern barbecues play a part too, with ceramics ensuring that the heat is sustained for as long as you need it, and controls so that you can manage your fire as you want.