Charcoal recovered by Monticello archaeologists.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation

Charcoal-making was another of David Hern Jr.’s skills. Blacksmiths and nail-makers at Monticello used charcoal to heat iron on forges. Cooks used it in the stew stoves to generate the steady low heat needed in French cooking. Charcoal fired the stoves that warmed some of the bedrooms in the main house. To make charcoal, Hern stacked hardwood sticks into a large dome shape, leaving openings in the bottom and a vertical flue through the middle. He then covered the dome with turf and set the wood inside on fire. He kept constant watch for several days to make sure the wood charred without burning.


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