We have been manufacturing moxa traditionally based on the special method.
Moxa Production Process
Mugwort is the raw materials for Moxa.
Moxa is the white hair like trichomes found at the back of the mugwort leaves.
Moxa made from mugwort in the region around Mt. Ibuki was branded as 'Ibuki Moxa' for its quality in Edo period.
Picking Leaves of Mugwort
Mugwort leaves are picked from the middle of May to September.
Generally wild grown mugwort is used.
Drying under Sun
Leaves are separated from stems and roots and exposed to the bright sun for drying.
After drying, the weight decreases to 20% comparing to the raw state.
Collected leaves are stored till production starts.
Moisture is one of the main issue for the production of quality moxa.
We produce moxa during winter when the humidity is low.
Heat Drying of Leaves
Even after sun drying, leaves still need further drying to remove moisture.
So leaves are dried by hot air in the heat furnace.
Well-dried leaves can be ground finely and moxa can be separated adequately in the next process.
Grinding by Stone Mills
The dried mugwort leaves are crushed (ground) using stone mills which separates trichomes with the mesophylls and stems.
We have been using 3 types of stone mills with different pattern of grooves.
Sifting by Nagadoshi
The crushed leaves are the mixture of trichomes, mesophylls of leaves.
In order to extract moxa (trichomes) from the mixture, the crushed leaves are mixed and sifted in the rotary sieve called Nagadoshi.
Sifting by Tomi
Tomi removes and refines the impurities from moxa that are not separated by Nagadoshi.
The time for sifting by Tomi depends upon the state of the sifted moxa obtained from Nagadoshi as well as the desired quality of the product.
The ratio of the weight of the product to the material (dried leaves) is used to determine/control the quality of the product.
The texture or purity of moxa is also examined with the hand and eyes of experienced person in charge.
To maintain the consistency in the quality of final products, products from different production date are mixed.