Improvements are disclosed in distilling peaty, schistose, bituminous and vegetable matters. These are arranging a retort in a horizontal position or so little inclined as not to permit matters charged at one end of the retort to fall readily to the other by gravity. The retort is heated externally by a fire at one end, near which end the spent products are discharged without opening the retort, which is done by the aid of two valves or slides, one being at all times closed when discharging products. The other end of the retort is provided with a divided hopper with two valves or slides, one of which is kept closed when the other is open, in order to charge the retort. Within is an endless chain carrying rakes so as to move the matters from the feeding to the discharging end. There are outlets for the distilled products furnished with condensers.