The ceramics used for hi'ire include Chinese and Japanese blue and white porcelain, Raku-yaki, Oribe, Shino, Mino wares of various types, Kochi ware, a large variety of Seto wares and even modern celadons can be found/used. One rarely sees unglazed ceramics such as Shigaraki or Bizen, perhaps because they tend to scratch and to transfer heat too well, but there is a low-fired, carbon-patterned type called unge or "cloud flower," which is created by the same technique used also by Native American and Mexican craftsmen, whereby the ceramic is directly infused with carbon from charcoal or powdered dung during the firing process.
Hi'ire are usually cylindrical and straight-sided, but lobed sometsuke and kochi wares and irregularly shaped Oribe pieces are also popular, since so much else is round or square. One feature that is unmistakable on wares made as hi'ire is the unglazed inner bottom half. With a little imagination, while remaining within the characterisitics list above, most any cup or short vessel can be converted into a hi'ire.
Preparation and use
To prepare a hi'ire, the ash, which should reach about 4/5 up the side of the hi'ire when finished (that is to say, covering the unglazed inner surface), is sifted to fluff it up and remove any impurities. Small pieces of used charcoal or the manufactured kotadon are lit and inserted in the ash to heat it. Heating the ash is essential; otherwise the proper hi'irezumi will go out. This same principle applies to the rodan as well.
Be ready to change the burning slivers which may go out for other, burning ones. Do not overheat the hi'ire, especially the outside, because the Guests will wish to pick it up and examine it. Also it might scorch the tabako bon if it is too hot. When the ash is sufficiently warmed, it is suitable to add the proper burning hi'irezumi. (As an emergency measure, the hai may be heated in a clean saucepan and added to the hiire. There is danger of getting the ash all over the place so be very careful, or you may lose yet more time than you gain from this "shortcut.")
Tabakobon-zumi or hi'irezumi is usually cut to fit the hi'ire it will be used in. Narrow or small hi'ire require small sumi and larger ones require larger sumi. The idea is to keep the charcoal lit and usable for lighting pipefuls of the shredded tabako, kizami.
It is not considered appropriate to put the machiko in the hi'ire.