Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Charcoal Burner's Craft and Tar Distillery

The carbonisation of wood is one of the oldest handicraft techniques known to man. Despite the different processing techniques worldwide, which have developed over several millennia, the actual technical process itself, the thermal transformation of biomass, has remained the same.

Facts & figures

Crucial date: April to October ("Köhlerwochen")
Inscription: 2014
Domains: knowledge and practice concerning nature and the universe; traditional craftsmanship
Where to find: nationwide (also abroad)


Europäischer Köhlerverband e.V
Karl Josef Tielke

Fuels are generated hereby which are mainly of solid (charcoal), but sometimes also of liquid (wood tar) or gaseous consistencies (wood gas). The carbonisation of wood was the basis of many technical and industrial developments.

Charcoal, for example, is necessary for the smelting of ore, the processing of iron and the manufacturing of gun powder. Wood tar and pitch were required in large quantities in order to make ships seaworthy. Since the beginning of the 20th Century engines may be driven using wood gas. Today, science worldwide is using the ancient knowledge gained form charcoal burning to tackle humanity’s energy problems.

The European Charcoal Burners’ Union is committed to the preservation of the charcoal burner’s craft and the old technologies in order that future generations may be able to master this craft and hand it on to others.


Wissen. Können. Weitergeben..
Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission, 2019