bincho-tan or white charcoal, also known as bincho-zumi, is a traditional charcoal of japan. it dates back to the edo period, when a craftsman named bitchu-ya chozaemon began to produce it in tanabe, wakayama. the raw material is oak, called ubame oak (quercus phillyraeoides)
binchotan is almost as hard as steel, with a smooth surface when cut. when two pieces strike, a clear, metallic sound is emitted. binchotan is an excellent electrical conductor. it contains a variety of minerals that were absorbed during its life as tree. all trees have a porous structure, which is needed to absorb nutrients from soil. in just one cubic centimetre, binchotan contains billions of pores, for a total area that could cover a tennis court.
Hitting charcoal makes hard sound. Charcoal of different length makes different pitches, so a musical instrument can be made with charcoal.
binchotan is made by carbonizing oak wood at a moderately low temperature. near the end of the process, the kiln temperature is raised to approximately 1000° celsius, making the wood red hot. at their deep red stage, the embers must be quickly removed and smothered in powder to cool. the powder is a mixture of sand, earth, and ash, which results in a whitish color on the surface of the charcoal, hence the name white charcoal. the quick rise in temperature, followed by quick cooling, burns up the outer layer of the wood, leaving a smooth, hardened surface.