Blackmore Vale  -    16 November 2016

Charcoal's digestive benefits for pets and horses.

Jim Bettle lighting a charcoal kiln

Although known for supplying top quality, locally made barbecue charcoal, the Blackmore Vale Business Awards Green Award 2016 winner Dorset Charcoal Company has been supplying its fine granular charcoal to animal owners for a number of years.

Charcoals benefits to digestion have been known by countless generations and whereas charcoal tablets have been readily available to humans, the animal equivalent has not been so. Charcoal is a natural, safe, effective way to remove toxins from an animal's digestive system, helping to improve and maintain their condition from the smallest bird to the largest steed.

While it has no nutritional or medicinal properties itself, charcoal contributes to keeping an animal's digestive system healthy. As it is inert and indigestible, it acts to bind toxins to itself and pass them out of the system. Charcoal is especially useful for improving the condition of horses, as they are one of only a few animals that are unable to vomit, therefore meaning that once ingested, any potentially hazardous substance has to pass through the whole digestive system.

Charcoal absorbs any toxins present in the gut and then passes them through the animal naturally (without harm to the digestive system). An added bonus for all pet owners is less flatulence and better breath (of the pet!).

"All our charcoal is produced locally in Dorset and made purely from sustainably managed hardwood species such as ash and oak," said proprietor Jim Bettle, who is to be featured on BBC1's Countryfile again in a couple of weeks.

"It is processed by hand, thereby ensuring no impurities are included. Owners can be confident that the charcoal they administer to their animals is of the very highest quality and provenance".

Charcoal is also listed as a feed material by the Food Standard Agency. The Dorset Charcoal Company Granular Charcoal is available at a number of local animal feed and equine stockists including The Paddock Pantry, Sturminster Newton and Woodrow Feeds, Hazelbury Bryan to name two.

Written by: TracyR

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Blackmore Vale    -    July 2002

Charcoal Maker Cleans Up

There are many by products from Jim Bettle's Dorset Charcoal Company. He makes charcoal for art shops and he supplied charcoal to the Evercreech company Rose of Jericho, which was used in the mortar made for the restoration of Windsor Castle.

One of his most recent contracts however, is to supply charcoal to the Poole-based natural cosmetics company, Lush, who use it in one of their new soap ranges which are sold around the world.

" Apparently it's very good for exfoliation", explains Jim, who has used the soap and assures me that It does get rid of the charcoal after a busy day's firing.

The distinctive brown bags with their black Dorset Charcoal Company logo are also becoming a familiar sight around the county now, stacked outside garages, ironmongers ,and garden centres – indeed anywhere we once saw cheap, foreign imports. Jim has just been awarded the contract to supply Scatts Countrystores which is a very substantial order for a company with its head office currently set up in a small clearing in a wood above Turnworth.

When Jim set up the company he was producing 7.5 tonnes of charcoal a year- he is now producing 25 between February and October- when the weather is fit.

Jim is very involved with the Dorset Coppice Group which is in the process of establishing a co-operative in order to apply for some of the recently awarded European Leader funding. With funding a Dorset woodland brand can be established to highlight the benefits of locally produced products.

Written by: Fiona Weaver

Blackmore Vale    -    May 1997

Business is Burning

After the first tantalising glimpses of sun over the Easter weekend, many people's thoughts will be edging towards the longer, lighter evenings and the inevitable advent of the barbecue season.

This year as you stoke up the fire, spare a little time to consider not just the quality of your sausages but also theorigins of your charcoal. 97% of the charcoal currently used in Britain is imported, generally from third world countries. About a third comes from Indonesia and is made from mangrove woods where little is done to regulate how much of the wood comes from sustainable forests. In addition, the methods of production are so ineffective that only about 60% of the charcoal is reduced to carbon, hence the great clouds of smoke produced when barbecuing as the other 40% of the wood burns.

With this in mind, charcoal production is becoming a growing concern throughout Britain. With carbon contents of up to 90%, British charcoal is of a much hugher standard, which means that on a local scale for the average barbecue fan it's easier to light, heats up faster and burns cleanly leaving only ash. On the grander scale, it is a growing rural enterprise which creates local employment and is a sustainable product whose by product is managed woodland. It also creates a market for low value wood and thus acts as an incentive to good woodland management. Forest thinnings which would otherwise be a waste product are utilised and coppicing which is a renewable source is encouraged. This in turn benefits local wildlife which returns to the newly cleared areas.

Jim Bettle from Blandford is a former forestry contractor to the Morden Estates. His interest in charcoal was sparked many years ago when working for a company in Sturminster Newton. After learning more about the technical process involved attending courses in Chichester, Cheltenham and Ironbridge he founded The Dorset Charcoal Co. at the end of 1996 using just a converted oil drum. The oil drum has now been replaced by two 7 foot diameter steel ring kilns. After it is cut to size, the wood is stacked in the kiln. The kiln is then fired and the lid settled and sealed. The evennes of the burn is controlled by the restriction of the air supply and movement of the chimneys. The moisture is driven out of the wood in this way for approximately 16 hours. Once the smoke turns blue, all the ai intakes are sealed, starving the burn of oxygen. After cooling for 24 hours the kiln can be opened and the charcoal graded and bagged. Jim hopes to to produce around 10 tonnes in this, his first year, and increase to four kilns soon.

When not stoking his kilns, Jim spends his time visiting local retailers and encouraging them to display his charcoal, as well as maintaining is woodland and coppices. Due to the seasonal nature of barbecuing he is also exploring other avenues which would benefit from high quality charcoal such as artists or horticulturists.