Real bone ash is obtained by calcining bone up to approximately 1100°C and then cooling and milling. This material is still manufactured today since some of its important properties are due to the unique cellular structure of bones that is preserved through calcination. Real bone ash has excellent non-wetting properties, it is chemically inert and free of organic matters and has very high heat transfer resistance.
Bone ash has traditionally been added to porcelain to achieve a high degree of translucency (thus the name 'bone china'). The manufacture of bone china is difficult to master because the clays are non-plastic, ware is unstable in the kiln, and it is difficult to burn consistently to the body's narrow firing range. Today the availability of super-white kaolins, low iron feldspars and processed bentonites, smectites and hectorites makes it possible for almost anyone to make very white, translucent and strong porcelains even at cone 6.