Charcoal, a dying trade business in Malaysia and cannot substitute by modern equipment. The factories located in spectacular mangrove forest since 1940 in Matang ,Malaysia.
These factories are not modern, high technology but only a row of charcoal kilns with about thirty feet in diameter and thirty feet high . Amazingly these charcoal kilns are built by hand by craftsman without any architecture drawing design! Yes, charcoal is manufactured here the traditional way using brick kilns and fire wood. No electrical oven and no mechanized equipment is used. Yet , its produce the most top quality charcoal in the world. The production of charcoal is very time consuming. After harvested the logs from nearby mangrove swamps, most of the greenwood (Kayu Bakau Minyak) mangrove logs are transported in to charcoal factory by small boats via narrow man-made canals during high tide, hence this process can only be done twice a month.
Every single process in a charcoal factory is manually done by human power and production is a long process involved lots of man power. The process must be done skillfully. After clean & cut, all logs will stack inside the kiln for the process, the opening of kilns will sealed, without oxygen, and the logs will heats up without burning until they are super dry and turn to “black gold’ ( charcoal) , a terms that used by British during the British occupational time. AT this stage the temperature inside the kiln can reach up to 220 degree Celsius. Fireman in charcoal factory is to make sure the fire is on for 24 hours, so the workers have to keep the fire burning thru the small door, slight temperature drops or overheating with just a few degreed can waste all the logs in processing or even can cause the kilns explode. The high quality “black Gold” produce here mostly export to Japan and Korea, due to hard and long working hour, less and less skill workers willing to work in this industry causing this trade become the sun set industry in Malaysia.