Mixed sludge from a pulp and paper mill was hydrothermally carbonized at 180-260°C for 0.5-5h with the use of HCl or NaOH for determining the effect of acid and base additions during sludge carbonization. Based on the results carbonization was mainly governed by dehydration, depolymerization and decarboxylation of sludge components. Additive type had a statistically significant effect on hydrochar carbon content and carbon and energy yield, of which especially energy yield increased through the use of HCl. The theoretical energy efficiencies of carbonization increased with decreasing reaction temperature, retention time and the use of HCl and suggested that the energy requirement could be covered by the energy content of attained hydrochar. The BOD5/COD-ratios of analyzed liquid samples indicated that the dissolved organic components could be treated by conventional biological methods.