What is Biochar?

Biochar can be thought of as the “bones of soil”. It acts as a systems support mechanism – creating conditions for life to thrive. Biochar is carbon-rich charcoal made by burning organic material, typically from forestry and agricultural wastes by pyrolysisPyrolysis is a controlled process where organic material is burned in a container with very high temperatures with limited oxygen. This specific burning process limits harmful emissions and creates energy as a byproduct that can be captured and used.  Biochar is a black, lightweight, fine grained, highly porous, with a large surface area. It has a very long breakdown time in soil. Scientists in the Amazon discovered deposits there from over 2,000 years ago and named it “terra preta”, Portuegese for “black earth”.

Benefits of Biochar

Biochar has many agricultural and environmental benefits. In agriculture it is most commonly used as a soil amendment to help retain water and nutrients as well as support dense communities of microbes.

Agricultural benefits of biochar: 

  • Enhance soil structure
  • Increase water retention
  • Increase nutrient retention
  • Decrease acidity
  • Improve porosity
  • Increase beneficial microbial communities 
  • Increase harvest

Environmental benefits of biochar: 

How to Use Biochar

For best results, first charge Wind River Biochar with nutrients and microbes by mixing it with compost, manure, and/or worm castings and water. Charging time depends on your charging method. Biochar isn’t nutrient-rich on its own, but once charged it is a great holder of nutrients for plants to use over time. Biochar can be added to: planters, pots, garden beds, raised beds, lawns, general garden, compost, animal bedding, etc. 

For home use, add a sprinkle to your kitchen compost container to control odors and slowly integrate biochar evenly into your pile. Biochar can also be used to control animal bedding smells in barns, locking in nitrogen that otherwise would evaporate as ammonia. 

Note: If raw uncharged biochar is added to your garden, initially it will take nutrients and moisture from the surrounding soil. This is why we recommend adding charged biochar to your soil. If you are unable to charge the biochar, then add raw biochar and other soil amendments to the soil in fall and plant in the springtime.

Charged biochar is especially helpful when planting trees. 

How to charge biochar before adding it to your garden

  • Incorporate biochar at a minimum of 5% (not more than 10% by volume into compost. When the compost is ready the biochar is charged. 
  • Soak biochar in worm or compost tea for 3-7 days.

Once your biochar is charged, mix it into the top 4-6 inches of your soil where you wish to plant. A general rule of thumb is 40 gallons of biochar per 100 square feet of soil for a 10% concentration or 20 gallons per 100 square feet for a 5% concentration. 

1 Cu Ft bag is approximately 7 gallons so to achieve a 5% biochar concentration for 100 sq ft area you would need about 3 of the cu ft sized bags or 7 of the gallon sized bags. 

Biochar Products and Pricing

Wind River Biochar is 100% natural and sustainably sourced from wood. 

Wind River Biochar – 1 Gallon Bag$10
Wind River Biochar – 1 Cubic Foot Bag$25
Wind River Biochar – 1 Cubic Yard Tote$400

Products are available for pickup by appointment at 1111 Hemlock Rd, Carson, WA 98610. More information will be added as our products become available in stores. If you are unable to come to our location or a local event, please contact us for information about shipping.

Biochar Resources and Charging Recipes

Note: methods and times vary slightly



About Wind River Biochar

Wind River Biochar is currently being produced in Port Townsend, WA from forest and untreated wood products. In the future, Wind River Biochar will be produced locally in the Columbia River Gorge in Carson, WA.


For more information or to purchase biochar please contact us at biochar@windriverproject.com