There are hundreds of charcoal workshops located along a 10-km stretch of the Ismailia Canal in the Sharqeya province.
The industrial production of coal occurs in several steps. First, workers collect tree branches and cover them in a layer of straw and a layer of coal dust. The combination is to be heated for ten days until it turns into charcoal. Exposed to heat of 100C (212F) the wood turns into coal through the combustion of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide gases.
At the completion of the process, tar composes nearly 30% of the charcoal’s weight, while the proportion of carbon is fixed at about 75%, the normal percentage for commercial coal.
To purify the charcoal of tar, the temperature is increased to about 500C (932F).
Then, the charcoal is packed in larges sacks to be locally distributed and exported.
In the past, coal was used as a fuel source for the generation of power. However, nowadays coal is primarily used to heat domestic buildings and grill food.
Photos by Mohamed Omar