Is charcoal the same as biochar?
Carbon is one of the most commonly found elements in nature. It can be found in a variety of different forms, biochar, activated carbon, graphite, charcoal and even as gems such as diamonds .
The main differences between activated carbon, biochar and charcoal are small but they play a significant role in the function of the final product. The differences are all found in the production process, and are designed to benefit the final use of the carbon based product.
What is biochar?
Biochar is similar to charcoal but has an intended use as a soil amendment or absorber of minerals in the soil. It is produced under more controlled circumstances, which is what makes it different, The properties of biochar allow it to be a great absorber just like activated carbon, but also allow it to be a great facilitator of ion exchange. Cat-ion Exchange capacity allows the biochar to hold essential nutrients in the soil for plants to utilise over the long term. This is due to the large surface area of biochar.
Activated carbon shares some common elements with biochar, however it is not great at ion exchange. It is predominantly used for adsorption, making it perfect for filtering harmful organic compounds out of both gas and water.
Understanding what you want to use the carbon based products for will be the deciding factor as to which one is best for you. Charcoal is best used as a fuel, activated carbon is best used as a means of adsorption, and biochar is best for soil conditioning and livestock feed, but can be used for all.
It is possible that you’ve never heard of biochar before although it has been around for millennia This charcoal substance can be used for a range of different purposes including a soil conditioner.
New uses for biochar
- Additive to animal feed to boost health and growth
- Use in the building trade
- Road building
- Restoration of peat bogs.
The list of uses for biochar are almost endless.