PONDHEAD CHARCOAL – our premium quality New Forest charcoal which is made in the heart of the New Forest lights easily, burns evenly and leaves no odours – you’ve tried the rest now try the best but don’t just take our word for it, read what our customers say:-
“Recently my family and I had the pleasure of enjoying your neighbourhood on holiday. While there we heard about and purchased some of your exquisite charcoal. We are barbecuing enthusiasts and grill outdoors at least twice weekly all year long. Consequently we buy lots of charcoal, many different types. Your Pondhead charcoal is among the finest- lovely, clean burn with plenty of heat and flavour.” MR, London
Charcoal burning is an historic New Forest industry and traditionally a summer occupation so winter coppice management and summer charcoal burning do not overlap and complement each other well in the management of Pondhead. It also ensures that we manage the woodland in a self sustainable way by the sale of high quality New Forest charcoal to the local community.
At present the UK charcoal market is 60,000 tonnes per annum, of which up to 95% is imported from Africa and South America where a large proportion is cut from non sustainable sources such as tropical rainforest. UK charcoal is widely accepted to be of higher quality than the imported product as the wood used is typically less dense giving the charcoal a carbon content as high as 96% compared to only 60% to 70% in many imported varieties. This results in it being easier to light without the need for accelerants and being capable of producing a consistent even heat more quickly. The method used by Pondhead Conservation Trust produces a higher quality product than traditional methods.
Pondhead Conservation Trust uses a modern environmentally friendly charcoal production method by means of a Charcoal Retort. This Retort kiln is on wheels which ensures that it leaves no “footprint” on the woodland floor. Our high quality New Forest charcoal can be produced within a day and 100% of loaded wood is charcoaled achieving a ratio of timber to charcoal of around 3 to 1, which compares very favourably to traditional methods where the ratio is nearer 7 to 1. There is minimal ash or waste and there are up to 75% fewer pollutants released into the atmosphere when compared to traditional ring kiln methods, making it an environmentally friendly process. The wood we use is primarily hazel, birch and holly cut from within our woodland with the help of our team of volunteers.
The retort incorporates a fire box which effectively “cooks” the charcoal wood that is contained in a separate chamber. During the initial firing, steam is driven off the charcoal wood and after this initial period, the combustible wood gases are re-circulated and burnt to fuel the kiln. When these gases are exhausted, only high quality charcoal with approximately 96% carbon content is left in the chamber. We test our charcoal regularly and on each occasion to date we have found that it lights with one sheet of newspaper and there is no need for accelerants such as BBQ lighter fuel, which you are led to believe by DIY stores is a prerequisite to a good BBQ.
By purchasing our charcoal you are helping a local conservation charity to restore one of the most unique woodland areas in the New Forest. The following short video shows our charcoal production process from sustainably sourced coppice timber.