• About Nitram Charcoal

  • Preserving a Tradition by Jerzy Niedojadlo

About Nitram Charcoal

Preserving a Tradition by Jerzy Niedojadlo

My interest in art and painting started at a very early age (I have, in fact, a painting my aunt saved on the wall of my office that I created when I was just 3 years old, and it’s actually pretty good, all things considered). As I grew up I continued to draw, paint and experiment with sculpture. My high school art teacher (the renowned naturalist painter, Robert Bateman, no less!) encouraged me to pursue a career in the arts.

That was, however, many years ago and, as so often happens, life got in the way.

Recently, I was consumed with the urge to pick up where I left off so long ago. I purchased my supplies, set up a small studio, but alas I no longer had any idea of how to begin. Somewhat frustrated, I began to research various art courses and came to the conclusion that I wanted/needed to study and learn the traditional approach to drawing and painting.

After enrolling in the Academy of Art in Toronto, Canada, I progressed through various Bargue studies and was eventually faced with my first charcoal cast drawing. At this point, I asked my instructor which charcoal would be the best? He responded “Nitram was the best that there was”. So, off I went to the local art store – but no Nitram was to be found. Next I searched online – again no Nitram. It would appear that the best charcoal was virtually unavailable. Even worse, I discovered that it was no longer even being produced!

I decided to go directly to the source and wrote to Mr. Nitram himself. Initially I received no response, but I played the part of the proverbial squeaky wheel and persisted. Several emails later I finally received a response. This was the start of what would become a lengthy and increasingly friendly correspondence between us. Daniel (Mr. Nitram), as it turned out, had simply decided to pursue other interests and was no longer interested in continuing the Nitram business. It was to be the end of the line for this excellent product and I was very sad to hear of it.

It was at this point that my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and I decided that I would be interested in taking on the business and preserving the tradition of Nitram fine art charcoal for myself and other artists. Eventually, my partner Patrica and I went to France and together we purchased the process, the equipment and the trademark.

I spent a month with Daniel producing Nitram charcoal the way it had always been made. And the rest, as they say, is history. Or at least history in the making…

Click here to read more about the History of Nitram Charcoal.

Note: Above Drawings by Jerzy Niedojadlo

Why Nitram Charcoal?

Increased Durability

Nitram Charcoal is produced using a unique process that maintains the wood’s cell structure to increase durability and prevent breakage. Unlike willow and vine, Nitram is not brittle and is less prone to breakage.

Less Dust

Nitram Charcoal creates less dust, making it a better choice for those sensitive to the dust of willow and vine charcoal. Less dust means less mess. Nitram’s variety of grades provides rich blacks and superior tonal values.

Sharpens to a Fine Point

Tired of narrow paint sticks with flimsy sandpaper? No need for frustratingly small, thumb-sized pencil scrapers! Nitram’s Sharpening Bloc is for real artists with an appetite for sharp drawing tools! And it comes with a spare set of sanding surfaces!

Easy to Erase

By using an eraser quite vigorously in passages you can create various tones – the pressure you use will determine the tone in your chosen areas of the drawing. You can also blend the charcoal with your fingers or a cloth to expand your repertoire of mark making.


Is Nitram Charcoal a willow or vine charcoal?

Nitram is neither willow or vine charcoal. It is produced using a unique process that maintains the wood’s cell structure to increase durability and prevent breakage while providing rich blacks and superior tonal values.

Does Nitram Charcoal produce a lot of dust when used or sharpened?

Due to its unique manufacturing process, it creates less dust when used or sharpened - making it a better choice for those sensitive to the dust of willow and vine charcoal.

What are the differences between H, HB & B?

The Nitram H can be sharpened to an extra fine point for creating fine detail. The unique hardness of Nitram H makes lighter and mid-tones easier to attain.

The Nitram HB is a medium soft charcoal is the one most preferred for drawing and sketching. Nitram HB’s superior hold is perfect for homogenizing tones and retaining tonal detail.

The Nitram B is a soft charcoal that produces a rich black. It’s soft, yet can hold a point.

Where can I find a store that carries Nitram Charcoal?

You can locate one of the many fine retailers that carry Nitram Charcoal HERE.

What can I do if there are no retailers near me?

If there are no retailers near you that carry Nitram Charcoal, you can order directly from us HERE. You could also ask your local art store if they are interested in carrying Nitram.

Does Nitram offer a large format charcoal?

For working in the large, Nitram offers three selections of charcoal that won’t create the mess that a charcoal chunk makes. Along with clean, crisp drawing, Nitram charcoals are wrapped with paper so the artist doesn’t need to worry about accidentally touching paper or canvas with a soiled finger. In 25 mm, 50 mm and 15 mm x 46 mm.

Have another question?

Visit our contact page HERE or give us a call at 1-866-668-7993 and we'll be happy to answer your question.