Köhlern – a method of charcoal production in Entlebuch

'Köhlern' is a method of burning wood in a kiln to produce charcoal. The agricultural community Romoos in the Lucerne municipality of Entlebuch is home to Switzerland's last remaining charcoal producers who practise this craft professionally as a source of additional income. In the hilly Napfbergland region, the tradition of charcoal production goes back many centuries. Logging was impossible because the forests long remained inaccessible by road, so the local population concentrated on charcoal production instead. In the Romoos community alone, evidence has been found of over 200 historical charcoal production sites. The most laborious part of the process is setting up and preparing a kiln in the open air. Layers of scrap wood are stacked to create a pile some four metres high and ten metres wide. After being lit, the kiln continues to burn for around two weeks under the constant supervision of the charcoal maker. The final step is the exhausting process of extracting the charcoal. The Romoos charcoal makers produce some 100 tonnes of charcoal per year using this method. Until the 1980s, their charcoal was purchased by the steel industry. Since the decline in this sector, the charcoal makers have concentrated on the market for barbecue coals.

Detailed description


Knowledge concerning nature


Connected traditions


Michael Arnold: Die Meilerköhlerei in den Wäldern der Luzerner Napfgemeinde Romoos. Entwicklung einer fortswirtschaftlichen Nebennutzung im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert. Diplomarbeit am Geographischen Institut der Universität Zürich, 1982

Josef Duss: Holzköhlerei am Cholfirst. Ed. Schmiedezunft Eligius. Schlatt, 1978

Paul Duss: Holzköhlerei in Romoos. Romoos, 2008

Anne-Marie Dubler: Köhlerei. In: Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz. Bern, 2008 (www.hls-dhs-dss.ch/textes/d/D14031.php)

Köhlernächte. Ein Film von Robert Müller. Kinodokumentarfilm, 93 Minuten. Adliswil: Zeitraum Film, 2018



Köhlerverband Romoos

Familie Bernadette & Willy Renggli

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