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Uses of Charcoal

6/29/2012 12:43:01 PM | by Anonymous

Charcoal

Charcoal is a dark grey residue that resembles coal and is made up of carbon. It can be obtained by burning or charring wood while depriving it from oxygen and removing water from animal or vegetation substances. Most commonly made of burnt or charred wood, charcoal serves the purpose as a source of fuel in many different applications. The burning or charring process which deprives the substances off oxygen leaves an impure carbon residue which is called charcoal. It has several applications and uses all over the world in several different industries such as in the manufacture of crayons or even in charcoal painting, but the most common use of charcoal is as a fuel. Its use as a fuel has been around for centuries.

 

Many people around the world use charcoal for cooking; especially in barbecuing. The reason for this is the fact that the heat that charcoal provides is much hotter and it burns cleaner as compared to wood. In the case of barbecuing, charcoal is usually set on fire before cooking is done. Cooking is only done once the flames have subsided and the charcoal is red in colour. Many people are usually concerned about cooking with charcoal and if it could contaminate the food. There are several different types of charcoal in the market today that are manufactured using different methods. The cheaper ones may, if not used properly, affect the taste of the food. An example of such can be briquettes. These are small pre-formed blocks of charcoal that are made from cheap substances such as mineral, carbon, brown coal, sodium nitrate, sawdust and starch. Each of these substances has a different purpose in the charcoal. For example the brown coal and carbon are present to serve as a heat source whereas the starch binds all the elements in the charcoal together and sawdust acts as an ignition tool as it is easy to light. The content of different charcoal briquettes may vary with some being more “natural”. Despite them containing so many different ingredients, charcoal do not create a health hazard as all these ingredients are burnt off before cooking.

 

As some people might claim that the ingredients in the cheaper charcoals affect the taste of the food being cooked, they prefer to go for more expensive ones; that are made without the ‘glue’ and other ingredients that can affect the taste of food. However, some people may choose convenience and cost-effectiveness and go for the self-lighting, longer lasting charcoal that do not require much effort to light and are cheaper. On the other hand, there are people who prefer a better grade of charcoal for better taste.

 

Aside from being a domestic cooking fuel, charcoal can serve other purposes as well. Previously before coke replaced charcoal, it was used for smelting iron in blast furnaces as it could provide great amounts of heat. Not only as an industrial fuel but charcoal is even used in gunpowder. It forms the main fuel component in gunpowder along with sulphur. Any other types of blasting powders may also make use of charcoal. This sort of coal is usually made by specific hardwoods that are charred at low temperatures.

 

The use of charcoal in art is also very prominent as it can be used for drawing and painting. The most common charcoal that is used all around the world is compressed charcoal in pencils. There is also the vine charcoal that is created by burning sticks of wood into soft, medium or hard consistencies to be used in artworks. Powdered charcoal is charcoal in very small particles being used to ‘tone’ paintings. The use of charcoal even extends to smoking as it can be used in hookah smoking where lighted pieces of charcoal are placed on a small tobacco bowl that is covered by a foil of aluminium. The coal indirectly heats the tobaccos for smoking.

 

The uses of charcoal are very diverse, with being a source of fuel forming the bulk of its uses. Charcoal can come in a very fine quality or cheaper, not so fine quality.

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