Charcoal burner © Forestry Commission

The use of charcoal in Europe can be traced back at least 5,500 years. In the past, charcoal production was fundamental in Britain to provide the high temperature fuels needed for industries such as glass-making and iron smelting in medieval times. Charcoal was an important ingredient in gunpowder production too.

While industrial use of charcoal has declined, Britain now burns around 60,000 tonnes a year for barbecues. Most of that comes from abroad including the endangered mangrove forests of South East Asia.

Locally produced barbecue charcoal is becoming more readily available, and is normally excellent quality. By buying it people support woodland management and local rural employment.