Environmental charcoals represent a poorly defined part of the black carbon (BC) combustion continuum and may differ widely in their chemical and physical properties, depending on combustion conditions and source material. The benzene polycarboxylic acid (BPCA) molecular marker method is well estab- lished to quantify the BC component in charcoal, soil and sediment, although observed variations between labs could stem from subtle differences in methods. The objectives of this study were to identify and improve potential sources of analytical uncertainty. The improved method was then used to quali- tatively characterize wood charred at 200–1000 °C. One significant improvement of the BPCA method was to replace citric acid with phthalic acid as an internal standard, which is more stable in acidic solu- tion and more similar to the target compounds. Also, including a soil reference material as a quality con- trol in each analysis proved to be a robust tool to detect for variations in reproducibility. For the thermosequence, elemental O/C and H/C ratios typically decreased with temperature to 60.03 at 1000 °C, whereas BPCA concentrations peaked at 700 °C. With temperature B6CA proportions increased consistently (6–98%), except for a plateau at 250–500 °C. Thus, relative contributions of B6CA reflected the pyrolysis temperature and probably also the degree of condensation of the charcoals we investigated. Future work will show if our results can be directly related to charcoal produced under oxygen limited conditions, including charcoal formed at wildfires or so called biochar for agricultural use.