In the low temperature distillation of powdered material such as coal, brown coal, or oil shale, dust carried by the gases and vapors is precipitated by supplying liquid hydrocarbons to the effluent gases, for example, to a dust remover through which the distillates pass. The material is supplied through a hopper and moved through a retort by a worm feed, and is discharged into a sump. Scavenging gases such as steam may be introduced through a pipe. Two conveyor worms moving in opposite directions are provided in an outlet conduit which may be surrounded by a cooling jacket. Heavy hydrocarbons condense on the walls of the conduit and on the conveyor worms and serve as dust catchers for the distillates, the lighted volatiles escaping through an outlet. The high boiling point oils flow back to and are cracked in the retort. Oils such as tar oils may be sprayed into the conduit or directly adjacent the entry of the material from feeding hopper.