By D.W. Kelley
Charcoal, the smelting fuel of the Bronze Age, has been in continual use in Europe for over five thousand years and was essential to the early metalworkers. History records its manufacture and the use of its by-products but gives few details of the charcoal burners - obscure figures often working in remote forest areas. This book describes the rapid growth of the industry up to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and how the emphasis of development changed to the production and refining of charcoal's by-products - acetic acid, tar and wood spirit - for the textile industry and the rapidly growing chemical industries. The use of charcoal and its chemical products decline in the western world as methods changed but today it is still widely used in the metal industries. The industry has entered a new cycle of growth because charcoal is the only solid, high-temperature and sokeless fuel which is made from a renweable source of raw material.