When one thinks about many pre-industrial processes, it’s easy to overlook something as basic as the fuel needed to fire them. The production of charcoal was a time consuming, dirty, and hazardous industry, yet without it and the means to produce steady high heats, many basic industries, such as the smelting of iron or running of a forge would have been severely hindered without it.
In this video, Van Wagner. Pennsylvania historian and song writer (www.vanwagnermusic.com), discusses how charcoal was produced to fuel the steel industry in pre-industrial Pennsylvania. It also discusses many of the terms and methods used. Though a more modern interpretation and discussion of the subject, the production of charcoal was little changed for centuries throughout many cultures and is still practiced in some regions of the world today as a means of producing basic fuel.