Charcoal is a certain kind of half-burnt wood. People use charcoal for fires because it burns hotter and cleaner than wood (less smoky), and more slowly. Your house or workplace stays cleaner.
People have been making charcoal since about 4000 BC in both China and West Asia. Latin American people, Africans, and Europeans also made and used charcoal. The way people made charcoal was generally by piling wood up and covering it with dampened dirt, and then lighting the wood on fire, so that it burned very slowly without muchoxygen. The best charcoal comes from burning hard wood like oak or beech. The result is mainly carbon, like coal.
Most people used charcoal just to cook their dinners on or heat their houses. But there were more specialized uses too. Blacksmiths needed charcoal to be able to smelt bronze and iron, because you need a hot fire to melt most metals. You also needed charcoal to make glass. Artists used charcoal as a cheap drawing and writing material, like a pencil.Egyptian artists used charcoal to make black paint for wall-paintings. Writers mixed powdered charcoal with water to make ink. Doctors all over the world gave activated charcoal – charcoal that has been ground up extra-fine – as a medicine to absorb poisons and bad smells. Sailors used charred water barrels to filter their drinking water. And finally, charcoal is an important ingredient of gunpowder.