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Charcoal is a light, black residue, consisting of carbon and any remaining ash, obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen (see char and biochar). It is usually an impure form of carbon as it contains ash; however, sugar charcoal is among the purest forms of carbon readily available, particularly if it is not made by heating but by a dehydration reaction with sulfuric acid to minimise the introduction of new impurities, as impurities can be removed from the sugar in advance. The resulting soft, brittle, lightweight, black, porous material resembles coal.[1]

Environmental implicationsEdit

Charcoal production at a sub-industrial level is one of the causes of deforestation. Charcoal production is now usually illegal and nearly always unregulated as in Brazil where charcoal production is actually a huge illegal industry for making pig iron.[2][3][4] Massive forest destruction has been documented in areas such as Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it is considered a primary threat to the survival of the mountain gorillas.[5] Similar threats are found in Zambia.[6] In Malawi, illegal charcoal trade employs 92,800 workers and is the main source of heat and cooking fuel for 90 percent of the nation’s population.[7] Some experts, such as Duncan MacQueen, Principal Researcher–Forest Team, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), argue that while illegal charcoal production causes deforestation, a regulated charcoal industry that required replanting and sustainable use of the forests "would give their people clean efficient energy – and their energy industries a strong competitive advantage."[7]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  4. The documentary film The Charcoal People (2000) [1] shows in detail the deforestation in Brazil, the poverty of the laborers and their families, and the method of constructing and using a clamp for burning the wood.
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External linksEdit

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