Charcoal is a carbon matrix, that is made when a wood is burned in such a way (usually by depriving or limiting oxygen), that it does not reduce to ash. Ash is the resulting mineral deposit that is left after the carbon (charcoal matix) is burned off/reduced to ash. That is the basic difference, but I'll elaborate to the best of my knowledge.
Out of curiosity, what makes the difference between charcoal and ashes?
Roberto pokachinni wrote:Hi Bryant. I'm pretty sure he said foundries. He also mentioned blacksmiths. He was giving his own commentary, along with reading the excerpts, and so there is the possibility that he is making assumptions, but I don't think so. He talked about people clearing the land of trees, and making charcoal in pits and selling the char. The crop plants growing near the pits, it was observed by one gent, tended to have lusher growth with fewer diseases, and so he endeavored to try it on his fields. I believe that what they were putting on the fields was charcoal, and what was considered waste was small particles that were not efficient to burn. It seems like it from what I understand from the quotes Steven was reading.
Yes. I think that was the prime amazing insight from this. The other, is the use of surface biochar application as being used successfully. I think that has a lot of potential bearing on people like me who are practicing no till.
It is pretty amazing that even in Europe and the northern Americas there was a somewhat terra preta event happening.
Texture is but one of it's many roles. Even if it's broken down into smaller particles, it still has much the same qualities in other regards, namely that it is still a carbon matrix with a high surface are to volume, and as such it is full of microscopic topography that holds tiny catchments of water as well as allowing small pockets that microbes can thrive in.
I'd also imagine that, if the main benefits of charcoal are because of its texture, contemporary tilling and harrowing practices would have quickly broken it up anyway.
possibly... but not really the way I look at it.
Right, but wouldn't that mean that the differences, fertilizer-wise, between ash and charcoal weren't all that great?
When trying to produce ash, one has to sustain a high heat with oxygen, which is not always easy to be 100% accurate with. It is far easier to sort out the few char bits via a screen, and then have more % ash and less char, then to control the heat and oxygen perfectly. That's why I think that there is a wider spectrum in ash quality. In the end, unless you are making soap or some other finished product with lye or fine ash, then it is mostly the matter of sifting it. The better the quality in the first place, obviously, the less work in the finishing stage for a product like soap.
In fact, many contemporary sources mention differences in quality between various kinds of ashes - perhaps this is one of the reasons why.