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How to measure charcoal quality? How to read charcoal specification?

If you just start your charcoal business, or want to get more knowledge about charcoal, this article might would help your first step!


Well, as we know, there are many types of charcoal. Coconut charcoal, wood lump charcoal, sawdust briquette charcoal, bamboo charcoal, and many more. Each of them, have their own characteristics as well as function. For example, coconuts charcoal briquette is being used as Shisha burning fuel, and wood lump charcoal is the best among the peers for grill and barbeque. However, in terms of specification, all of it shares same common items that need to be tested and measured. We will explain in simple and short way!


If you are doing export-import business, or need material safety data sheet (MSDS), it is for sure, your charcoal has to have Report of Analysis or ROA. This analysis will breakdown your charcoal to measure and check the material of it. Below is one of example of our own briquette RoA.

Example of Charcoal RoA
  • Moisture

Just like its name, moisture is referring to liquid or water composition in small of amounts. In charcoal, moisture means the amount of water vapor out of the charcoal after the burning process is over. Obviously, the more moisture, the lower quality of the charcoal. It adds more weight into the main product (which leads to less burnable material), and degrade the combustion, burning quality, and of course the calorific value. As charcoal users, all we want is a perfect combustion with higher calorific value as much as possible, shorter ignition time, longer burning time, and higher burning temperature. Usually the moisture composition on charcoal and charcoal briquette is range between 6-8%.

Illustrate charcoal moisture
Moisture illustration
  • Ash Content

Ash content is the amount of residue (minerals, dirty, and inorganics) left after all the combustion/burning process is over. Since it is being heated with a very high temperature, most amount of moisture, volatile matters, and organics composition have been removed. Moreover, one of charcoal briquette's charcoal is, it leaves more ash content than the natural charcoal (wood lump charcoal and coconut charcoal). Why? Because the main reason is the usage of filler, such as starch, clay, or bentonite. Furthermore, as you expect, the lower ash content, the higher calorific value it will have, since it has more organics matters. On Indonesia National Standard (SNI), the maximum ash content is below 8% with common quality of charcoal and charcoal briquettes will have ash content lower than 4%.


How ash was left after the burning is over
Sawdust Charcoal Ash
  • Volatile Matter

Beside moisture, there are many composition that could evaporate while the decomposition is happening. Each of charcoal raw material has its own difference volatile matter, which can cause more smoke during the burning process. In other words, this matter creates smoky charcoal which comes from the unwanted CO gas. Another cause, would come from the carbonization process. The higher temperature inside the oven during the carbonization, the lesser volatile matter would get. For Indonesia National Standard (SNI), the maximum value of volatile matter is 15%.

  • Fixed Carbon

Fixed carbon is the amount carbon percentage composition inside the charcoal after all volatile matter has evaporated. The best charcoal and charcoal briquette would have higher fixed carbon composition, which would lead higher calorific value during the burning process. The standard fixed carbon composition for Indonesia, based on Indonesia National Standard (NSI) is around 77%.

  • Calorific Value

This item would be the most important among all charcoal quality measurement items. It represents how much energy would a charcoal or charcoal briquette would make per gram of it. It shows how high is temperature and how well it will burn. The best briquette would have higher calorific value. Thus, for Indonesia charcoal, even the lowest quality of natural charcoal and charcoal briquette would have around 5000cal/g.

Sawdust Charcoal

  • Ignition Time, Burning Time

Even both of these items are not measured during the RoA experiment, many users and customers consider it as important things to be checked also.

Charcoal Burning Test


Keyword: Charcoal, Charcoal Briquette, Sawdust Charcoal Briquette, Coconut Charcoal Briquette, Wood Charcoal, Coconut Charcoal, Arang, Arang Briket, Specification, Analysis,

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