In the central Bosnia towns of Fojnica, Busovaca, Kiseljak and Kresevo the production of charcoal is still carried out according to an ancient method. Wood is thrown into specially constructed earth kilns or mounds (Bosnian: žega [ʒe.ɡə]) in order to be dried and turned into actual charcoal.
One can find dozens of these earth kilns in front of private houses in Zivcici and the surrounding villages, since many families live from selling their product to large companies, who then resell it for major profit.
The production is extremely arduous, but apparently profitable for the families. The families say they use wood they find discarded in the forest and they claim their activity does not lead to forest destruction in any way. This is indeed the way the traditional method should work, as it was first introduced over a century ago in an effort to make the most of discarded wood.
The local masters of this craft say the charcoal is ready when the smoke coming out of holes on the earth kilns turns blue.