Kurosumi Charcoal: How it's Made and Why It's Awesome
The process of creating charcoal is initiated by harvesting trees in the woods. To facilitate this, the charcoal maker bundles up their collection manually due to the rugged environment.
The bundles are then arranged upright in a special kiln, completely filling it to the brim. In fact, these kilns are so big that one can even enter inside them! Afterwards, they add fuel wood which is less dense and combusts quickly before sealing the opening with brick and mortar. To make sure all moisture evaporates from the wood for 6-7 days straight, this burning process must be slow yet consistent with minimal air flow running through.
As the process progresses, white steam billows out of the chimney. When all vapor dissipates, wood transforms into charcoal.
After completely closing the openings to deprive it of oxygen and extinguish the fire, you would get your regular charcoal. Yet, Kurosumi charcoal goes through an additional step that sets it apart from other types of charcoals - this is what truly makes Japanese charcoal so special.
Seiren, or refining, is a process that requires precision and care. A charcoal maker needs to slowly add air flow into the kiln by making more openings; too fast of an influx will reduce everything to ash while a lackadaisical approach won't make it as effective. As such, every step must be taken with extreme caution for best results.
Taking a period of 24 to 48 hours, the interior temperature rises up to 1000 degrees centigrade. This incinerates bark and makes charcoal more compact and concentrated while also providing it with an elevated level of purity compared to other charcoals; Kurosumi has 95% or more pure carbon whereas regular charcoals are 70-75%.
This entire cycle takes up to 10 days and can only create around 600kg of charcoal per batch. Unfortunately, much is lost in the procedure. The charcoal that emerges from this operation at the end accounts for merely one tenth of what was initially provided as wood- not mentioning all those used just as kiln fuel!
It is a privilege to pass down the long-standing traditions of Kurosumi charcoal making, which requires both expertise and great effort. Now it's our honour to make available these cultural artifacts to customers in the United States.
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