How to Start a Charcoal Export Business

Pyrolysis is the process involved in charcoal production. Primarily obtained from wood it is ideal for many applications.
The product is common to areas with abundant forests and wood. The negative aspect to charcoal production includes deforestation, degradation and environmental implications.
A major advantage of charcoal business is cheaper alternative to diesel, kerosene and petrol. The business is capital intensive and unsuitable for first time investors.
To start the business you need to gather valuable knowledge, secure funding. Get foreign buyers and follow export guidelines and regulations. You need lots of casual labor, a processing unit, registration and source of raw material.
Charcoal export Challenges
Challenges facing the business are funding, price fluctuations and inadequate planning. Others are substandard products, government restrictions, loading issues, theft and inadequate logistics.
  • Funding
  • Price fluctuations
  • Inadequate planning
  • Substandard products
  • Government restrictions
  • Loading issues
  • Theft
  • Poor logistics
Learn the Trade
Before venturing into the business you need to learn the trade. Attend export seminars, purchase e-books and tutorials.
You can hire a professional coach or consultant. Other methods include apprentice and practical training
Uses of Charcoal
There are many uses for charcoal both domestic and industrial. It is used as cooking fuel, industrial fuel and metallurgical fuel.
Other applications are found in art, horticulture, medicine, purification and filtration. Charcoal is prevalent in Pyrotechnics products, a good carbon source, and automotive fuel.
  • Cooking fuel
  • Industrial fuel
  • Metallurgical fuel
  • Art
  • Horticulture
  •  Medicine
  • Purification and filtration
  • Pyrotechnics products
  •  Carbon source
  • Automotive fuel
Types of Charcoal
Before you launch your enterprise you need to know the different types of charcoal. Different countries prefer certain types and have strict requirements for importation.
There are different types of charcoal such as lump charcoal, Ogatan, briquettes and extruded charcoal. Others include sawdust briquette, black charcoal, sugar charcoal and coal/wood charcoal.
  •  Lump charcoal
  • Ogatan
  • Briquettes
  • Extruded charcoal
  • Sawdust briquette
  • Black charcoal
  • White charcoal
  •  Sugar charcoal
  • Coal charcoal
  • Wood charcoal.
  • Peat, coconut shell
Charcoal Production
Charcoal production is labor intensive and slightly challenging. There are different ways to achieve charcoal products.
The production involves managing the heat treatment and carbonization. Retorting technology used during charcoal production is more efficient than clap/kiln method.
How Charcoal is made
Charcoal is made through heat treatment in low oxygen environment. The derivative product is char a slow burning lump.
Commercial production is done in large silos made from steel or concrete. Hardwood lump charcoal is made from different raw materials.
Common materials used in making hardwood are furniture, twigs and sawmill scrap. Charcoal brusquest are primarily made from wood scrap and sawdust.
Specifications for Charcoal Export/Import
The quality of the hardwood impacts on the final product. To import charcoal you are bound by strict guidelines and specifications.
Although they defer, common specifications include carbon content, moisture and ash content. Others include hardness of the product, volatile matter, granulation size and calorific value.
The heating medium and methodology used in the production is also of importance. Average dry ash content 3%, moisture 5.5 % and fixed carbon 75%. Heated value 6800Kcal/kg, volatile matter 7%, minimum hardness 95% and granulation size 30mm-150mm.
  • Average dry ash content 3%
  • Moisture 5.5%
  • Fixed carbon 75%
  • Heated value 6800Kcal/kg
  • Volatile matter 7%
  • Minimum hardness 95%
  • Granulation size 30mm-150mm.
Registration and Licensing
Some countries have placed an outright ban on charcoal exportation. You need to find out what is obtainable in your country.
To export charcoal, secure an export contract and register your business as a limited liability company. You are required to have an export license, trade license and insurance.
Charcoal Export Costs and Profit
The cost and profit are based on full load 40 feet container of 23 metric tons. Other parameters include transportation cost to loading port and documentation.
You need to factor agency fees, local inspection/supervision fees and port terminal charges. Calculate the profit by factoring total selling price per 23 metric tons at buyer’s price per ton. Once all of the variables are considered you can arrive at a profit determination.


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