55 uses of biochar
[Updated to 60]

raw biochar from feedstock

Acknowledgement of the original work

The 55 uses of biochar work was originally created by:

Schmidt HP, Wilson K:
The 55 uses of biochar,
the Biochar Journal 2014, Arbaz, Switzerland.
ISSN 2297-1114
Version of 12th May 2014

Some of the uses detailed already use activated carbon as the solution.

Uses 5-60 are the original work as above, 6 years on we have added some extra uses.

New biochar economy

1/ Soil carbon sequestration tool

2/ An alternative mechanism to current carbon credits

3/ A provider of jobs and livelihoods (new industry)

4/ Carbon Zero mechanism to bring together carbon purchasers and sinkers

Circular Biochar Economy
Barley in an Agricultural field

In agriculture

5/ Silage agent

6/ Litter additive

7/ Slurry treatment

8/ Manure composting

Biochar can be added to silage, litter, slurry and manure (uses 5-8) to reduce the smell/odours produced from the rotting material. It also absorbs the nutrients in the waste via ion exchange and adsorption. The resulting charged biochar could then be used for soil improvement as a fertiliser.

9/ Feed additive/supplement

Many studies have been conducted that suggest if biochar is added to animal feed then it can have multiple positive effects [Ref]. These include, healthier animals with less stomach related illnesses, less methane (CH₄) production from their digestive tracts and increased feed intake. [Methane is a greenhouse gas, x24 more potent than carbon dioxide on the time scale of 100 years].

10/ Water treatment in fish farming

As in other forms of water treatment biochar can be placed in the water via a permeable membrane where it absorbs excess ammonium ions (NH₄⁺), which is excreted by the fish via their gills and is formed from decaying fish feed and other organic matter.

As soil amendment

11/ Carbon fertiliser

12/ Compost additive

13/ Substitute for peat in potting soil

14/ Plant protection

15/ Compensatory fertiliser for trace elements

For more details on all these uses, please see our soil improvement page.

Seedlings in a tray

In the building industry

16/ Insulation

Hemp a natural material mixed with Lime is being used as an insulation material in some green builds. Its low thermal conductivity property is derived from its internal structure where air is trapped and works as a great insulator. Biochar has the same properties with millions of fine air channels. Trials have been undertaken at the Ithaka Institut.

17/ Air decontamination

18/ Decontamination in earth foundations

19/ Humidity regulation

Biochar is very efficient at storing and regulating its water content. As such it can allow a wall to breathe.

20/ Potential protection against electromagnetic radiation though more work is needed to demonstrate its effectiveness for this application.

Decontamination of soil and natural water

21-24/ Soil additive for soil remediation, soil substrates, a barrier for preventing pesticides getting onto surface water, treating pond and lake water biogas production

Biogas production

25-26/ Biomass additive, biogas slurry treatment

Wastewater and sewage treatment

27-30/ Active carbon filter, pre-rinsing additive, soil substrate for organic plant beds, composting toilets

Treatment of drinking water

31-32/ Micro-filters, macro-filters in developing countries

Other industrial processes

33-35/ Exhaust filters – controlling emissions, room air filters

36-38/ Industrial materials – carbon filters, plastics

39-40/ Electronics – semi conductors, batteries. Other forms of carbon are more suitable for these applications

41/ Metallurgy – metal reduction

42-45/ Cosmetics – soaps, skin cream, therapeutic bath additives

46-48/ Paints and colouring – food colourants, industrial paints

49-50/ Energy production – pellets, substitute for lignite


51-53/ detoxification, carrier for active pharmaceutical ingredients, cataplasm or poultice for insect bites, abscesses, eczema…


54-56/ fabric additive for functional underwear,  thermal insulation for functional clothing, deodorant for shoe soles


57-58/ filling for mattresses, filling for pillows

Shield against electromagnetic radiation

59/ shield against electromagnetic radiation, very similar to use 20

Food conservation

60/ food conservation