Indonesia is an important producer of coconuts in the world. Despite the mass production of coconuts, application of the coconut is still generally limited to the fruit of copra, and coconut oil for home use. Other by-products such as coconut shells are usually treated as wastes and not fully utilized. Indeed, the weight of the shell reaches 12% of the weight of the coconuts. With this, we can see a big potential of such a large shell production for productive activities that can increase the value added.
One of the products made from coconut shell is the coconut charcoal briquettes. These are very green products because no trees are cut down and the waste that would otherwise be thrown away is now processed to be sustainable natural resources. Amazingly, compared to other conventional charcoal made by wood or coal, coconut charcoal briquettes have distinctive advantages, which make them more popular in the world market.
Among these, coconut charcoal burns hotter and longer that makes it especially perfect for slow grilling. There’s no added chemical on the charcoal, so everyone gets a clean burn. It is more like grilling with real wood rather than charcoal briquettes. The smell of the charcoal is rather neutral other than just having a grilling smoke smell with the foods.
Coconut charcoal briquettes are also reusable. When finished grilling the meal, the remaining charcoal can be used as a bottom or base for the next grill out. The coconut charcoal definitely has staying power.
Availability may be an issue in some areas, but it will never be the problem in Indonesia.
We all like coconuts. But how much do we know about its shells? They are indeed biomass waste and if treated properly, can be very sustainable products.
Like its name, coconut shell activated carbon comes from the coconut shell. To create its activated carbon form, the coconut undergoes a steam activation process. During activation, it creates millions of pores at the surface of the carbon thus increasing the total surface area. Coconut shell carbon has mainly micro-pores to meso-pores and due to its unique distribution of pore diameter; coconut shell activated carbons are very popular in the gas phase purification and potable water purification industries.
Activated carbon manufactured from coconut shell is considered superior to those obtained from other sources, such as wood, coal or peat. This is mainly because of the small macropores structure which renders it more effective for the adsorption of gas/vapour and for the removal of colour and odour of compounds. Indeed, coconut activated carbon has higher iodine number that gives it better adsorption ability for molecules.
The activated carbon is extensively used in the refining and bleaching of vegetable oils and chemical solutions, water purification, recovery of solvents and other vapours, recovery of gold, in gas masks for protection against toxic gases, in filters for providing adequate protection against war gases/nuclear fall outs, etc.
Although steam activation and chemical activation are the two commonly used processes for the manufacture of activated carbon, coconut shell based activated carbon units are adopting the steam activation process to produce good quality activated carbon.
My high school best friend was getting married in Italy. She hosted a BBQ wedding on a piece of big grassland. Honestly, I wasn’t really interested in joining the party at the beginning as it took me 12 hours to land there. But turned out this trip and the party were so much wonderful.
The BBQ party was the highlight of the wedding and it started at evening. The fuel they used was coconut shell charcoal instead of gas or coal. This reflected the couple as Earth lovers and the wedding theme as natural. One of the benefits using coconut shell charcoal is that there’s no smoke. Guests could chat and socialise easily without being “covered” by the smoke.
Because of the consistent heat for over four hours using coconut charcoal made it a very a convenient method of barbecuing (and also economical). There’s no need for anyone to replenish the grill with more fuel during cooking. After the party, there was little ash produced that allowed us to clean grill a lot easier after barbecuing.
This really inspired me and I tried to use the same fuel for barbecuing with my kids after going home. Well, I can say, coconut charcoal is definitely one of the cleanest and cheapest ways of enjoying a grilling meal. It’s really something which should be given a thought as once you switch to coconut charcoal you won’t feel like trying another fuel for your grill. There’s no health risk, which is my particular concern for the kids, and the meat tastes just as it is. I even find it amazing as there’s no interruption in the middle to refuel my BBQ.