What is biochar?

Biochar is a charcoal-like substance produced from woody and agricultural waste (biomass) in a controlled burning process called pyrolysis. To create biochar – as opposed to regular charcoal – material is burned in a way that consumes very little oxygen and releases very little smoke when done correctly. The end product is a very dark, fine-grained, lightweight, and highly porous material with a large surface area. While the composition varies based on the materials used, biochar is generally around 70% carbon, with the remainder consisting mostly of nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen. The idea of biochar comes from ancient Amazonian soils known as “Terra Preta” or “dark earth” that were created when indigenous peoples added charcoal, compost, bone, and broken pottery to  minimally-fertile tropical soils.