How to Properly Care for Your Charcoal So It Lasts
Caring for Charcoal Materials
First, it is important to start with a well made charcoal brand, such as Nitram Charcoal. Lower quality charcoals will often crumble or break and with time only degrade further. With the right charcoal and proper care; it will be usable for years on any project. Charcoal care is generally the same for Nitram, willow, vine, pencils, chunks or any other form of charcoal you are using.
Charcoal should always be kept dry, unless you are specifically using charcoal as a wet medium like Rebecca Louise Saunders. Wet charcoal produces a darker tone and can damage the paper if it is too thin. Find out what to look for in a charcoal paper. If your charcoal is accidentally exposed to water, let it dry in a clean, open space before using it again.
When working with charcoal it is important to use it in a clean location. Charcoal can pick up dust that is then transferred to your artwork, continually damaging it over time. You can tell if your charcoal has picked up dust by running your fingers over it; it should be smooth. Bumpy charcoal is an indicator that your charcoal is dusty and could affect the final appearance of your artwork.
When not in use, charcoal should be protected from air exposure. Though charcoal is a hard material, it is actually quite delicate and too much air exposure can make it brittle. Brittle charcoal is still usable, however it is prone to crumbling and breakage. A small tin can be a convenient way to store charcoal.
Each type of charcoal is affected by the elements differently and certain brands may last longer than others. By properly caring for your charcoal you can ensure your favourite brand is ready when you are.