What is the history of Binchotan charcoal?
The origins are not completely clear, but it is believed that a form of Binchotan charcoal (sometimes referred to as ‘white charcoal’) was introduced to Japan by a Japanese monk and scholar called Kukai 1,200 years ago. It was during the Edo Period (17th century) that a man called Binchuya Chozaemon made it popular.
How is it made?
Sustainably sourced wood is placed in a kiln and charred at a relatively low temperature for some time, then, near the end of the process, the kiln temperature is raised to about 1000 degree Celsius to make the wood red-hot. The charcoal is then removed and quickly covered with a special powder made from earth, sand and ash, and this gives the charcoal surface a whitish hue (explaining the name ‘white charcoal’). The rapid rise in temperature, followed by a rapid cooling, incinerates the bark and leaves a smooth, hard surface. If you strike it, you’ll hear a clear, metallic sound.