Animal bone charcoal (synonyms: Bone Charcoal, Bone Black, Bone Char) described in many technical dictionaries as the product of the "dry distillation" of animal bones. In more definite terms, however, one might define the material as the product of the carbonization, in an inert atmosphere, of bones of animals.
Historically, bone charcoal has been used for a variety of purposes for several thousand years, but it is in the dry climate of Egypt that the earliest records of the application of bone charcoal are to be found. Egyptian pigments from the tomb of Perneb (2650 BC) have been found to include bone black which can be easily distinguished from other carbon compounds by simple chemical analysis.
However, it was not until 1811 that the decolorizing properties of bone charcoal were fully recognized when a French pharmacist by the name of M. Figuier, made this observation while preparing a shoe-black from honey, vinegar and finely ground animal charcoal. Subsequent to this discovery, bone charcoal became widely used in the sugar refining industry during the 19th century to remove color from raw sugar solution. Indeed, bone charcoal has continued to be used for this purpose over the years in many countries throughout the world. Today, bone charcoal is still the prime adsorbent used in the sugar refining industry.