The natural beauty of Japan often comes in small, humble packages. Made from Japanese ubame oak, binchōtan is a specialized hard charcoal and revered purifier whose invention dates back to the 1600s in the Kishu region of Japan.
To produce binchōtan charcoal, pieces of wood are heated in a kiln to extremely high temperatures, then left to harden and cure under sand and ash. If you tap two sticks together, they release a magical, metallic ring. When you introduce it into your life, you’ll come to appreciate its equally magical, mighty capabilities.
This remarkable material has uses in nearly every part of the home: here are six ways to utilize this ultra pure charcoal.
Porous binchōtan can easily remove impurities from water, resulting in a refreshing drink each time you pour a glass. To enhance your drinking water experience, acquire it in stick form. Give the stick a rinse to get any excess ash off, boil the sticks for 10 minutes, then place it in a container of water – a quarter-pound of charcoal can purify a gallon of water and last for three months.
Within a few hours (even better if left to sit overnight), the water will be softened, infused with important minerals and filtered of undesirable tastes and chlorine. You can simply refill the same container over and over. Recharge the sticks in boiling water every two to three weeks to cleanse it of the impurities it has absorbed.
Deodorizer and Cleanser
These absorptive little charcoal sticks are accomplished odor warriors. They can live in drawers, closets, refrigerators and even shoes to help fight bacteria and moisture. The unassuming binchōtan works harder than a scented sachet, cleaning the air of toxins and smells. Sometimes, similar charcoal comes in packets like these, which are easily slipped into drawers to soak up contaminants. When woven into a cloth, it serves as an all-purpose cleaning and antimicrobial agent on nooks and crannies anywhere in the home.
Just like the air or water, our bodies appreciate detoxification routines. Place binchōtan sticks in the bath to help with circulation, or use a charcoal body scrub towel to invigorate and exfoliate your skin. Charcoal’s purification capabilities leave skin brightened and clarified.
Grilling and Cooking
High heat, a clean and steady burn that doesn’t affect the flavor and it lasts for a marathon cook? What more could you ask for in grilling charcoal? Binchōtan can make your sears more caramelized and your crisping even crispier. Unlike less pure charcoal, it won’t impart chemicals to your foods or leave a rancid charcoal taste. Toss a stick into your rice and marvel in the resulting smooth taste and fluffy texture.
Charcoal making teeth whiter may seem counterintuitive, but the science stands. This toothbrush made with binchōtan bristles will deodorize and detoxify your mouth, all while staying cleaner than a plastic-bristled version that harbors bacteria. Not only does it leave your mouth fresh and clean, but it also looks elegant in the bathroom.
The binchōtan serves us beyond its three months of use as a purifier. Mix the broken pieces into a garden or potting soil to provide minerals, alkalization and soil integrity for supporting healthy plants – a full circle moment for the natural binchōtan to return to the earth.
Behold the wonders of this humble material – though binchōtan charcoal has been used for centuries, its versatility makes it feel new time and time again. We hope you enjoy it too!