• 26/04/2024
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Ubame oak is harder, with a tighter grain than regular oak trees, and is preferred by Binchotan makers. All of the various Binchotan makers are located in areas with similar terrain and lattitudes, as Ubame oak usually grows in hilly and hard-to-reach areas, which makes harvesting this type of wood more challenging than regular oak.

Ubame can be written in several different kanji, usually either 姥目 (elderly woman’s eye) or 馬目 (horse’s eye). These are in reference to the buds of the trees that look like wrinkly eyes.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been curious about the process of making charcoal. When I burn wood in a fire pit, all I end up with is ashes rather than something dense and refined. When I heard that to make charcoal, the oak is burned at 1000 degrees centigrade, I thought everything would just burn into ashes. The key to not letting that happen is oxygen, or rather, the lack thereof. When you burn wood in an open environment, oxygen in the air will bond with carbon in the wood, creating CO2 and leaving behind ashes. However, if you limit the available oxygen when burning, it will evaporate the water out from the wood, resulting in charcoal! Binchotan and other types of charcoal are, for the most part, made in similar procedures — except for the final part of the process, which we will get to later.

Any industry that relies on nature has to be careful of how much they consume because over-harvesting would threaten the industry. The same, of course, can be said of Binchotan makers. They rely almost 100% on natural resources and have learned over the years just how many trees they can fell per year without damaging the forest and their industry. Despite this, with the recent increase in popularity and demand for Binchotan, some companies have sadly ignored their ecological traditions and have harvested more trees than they can recover, so there is a threat to the supply of Ubame Oak. We are happy to say that our supplier remains committed to sustainable harvesting!

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