What is Binchotan Charcoal and Does It Work for Water Filtration?

Looking for a completely natural solution to drinking water contamination? Binchotan charcoal might just be the answer. Today, we will learn more about Binchotan (or Japanese charcoal, also called Bincho sometimes).

We will discuss its origins, properties, and efficiency when it comes to non-traditional water filtration methods that go beyond the realm of classic charcoal whole house water filters or other types of water filtration technologies.


What Is Bincho Charcoal?

Our water is becoming increasingly polluted with dangerous contaminants and many people are being negatively impacted because of it. We all want to protect our families from harm, but there are so many “solutions” out there that it is difficult to come up with a plan. Especially one that is free from plastics and doesn’t involve any waste.

However, there is an alternative if you look a bit deeper. The fakes will usually be weeded out within a few minutes, and what remains is a unique solution that is so stunningly simple that it will take your breath away.

Let us look to nature, where most solutions are found, to the Japanese white charcoal that goes by the name of Binchotan active charcoal. As the definition goes, you will be more than surprised to learn that this variety of Japanese charcoal comes not from an advanced, hi-tech facility dedicated to the study of water filtration, but from Japanese kitchens.

Binchō-tan, also called white charcoal or binchō-zumi, is a type of charcoal traditionally used in Japanese cooking. The typical raw material used to make binchō-tan in Japan is oak. This white charcoal is made by pyrolyzing wood in a kiln at ~240°C for 120 hours, then raising the temperature to ~1000°C. Once carbonized, the material is taken out and covered in a damp mixture of earth, sand, and ash.

If you wonder why we discuss cooking charcoal in relation to water filtration systems, we will tell you this for now: Binchotan charcoal is almost 100% pure carbon. It naturally features a microporous structure that science found it can adsorb or bond with toxins, particularly metals, at the molecular level.

While researchers agree that we need more studied to determine the effects of Binchotan charcoal for chloramine removal, this Japanese charcoal proved effective in the removal of lead, mercury, copper, aluminum, uranium, molybdenum, and chlorine from water.


Binchotan Charcoal Origin

The forests in Kishu, Japan have been cultivated for over 3 centuries by master Japanese craftsmen dedicated to the development of a type of activated charcoal called Binchotan. The charcoal is made from a slow-growing type of wood called Holm oak.

This wood is high in density and has an extremely delicate pored structure. The wood is baked for several days at a low temperature and finally at extremely high temperatures with restricted oxygen. To keep the carbon, the charcoal is thrown with white ash to put out the fire, which is where the name “white charcoal” comes from.

The charcoal has a long history and many various origins and purposes. It comes from so many different areas, that Binchotan became now an encompassing term that basically means that this charcoal is white Japanese charcoal. However, the creation of Binchotan charcoal originates from the Wakayama Prefecture. Wakayama continues to this day to be a major producer of high-quality Binchotan charcoal, with the town of Minabe, Wakayama, producing more white charcoal than any other city in Japan.

To differentiate between “non-pure” white charcoal products and the veritable Wakayama Binchotan charcoal, some people initiated a movement to movement to call the white Japanese charcoal produced in Wakayama Kishū binchō-tan, Kishū being the old name of Wakayama.

Binchotan Charcoal Purpose

Traditionally, as we said, this charcoal is used in Japanese cooking. It burns at a lower heat than most charcoals but lasts much longer and is, therefore, preferred by most cooks. It is odorless and is renowned for its absorption qualities and is a favorite when making unagi (freshwater eel) or yakitori (skewered chicken).

The charcoal has found much more use in modern society thanks to its amazing ability to mineralize and purify water. It also absorbs bad smells and works great as a fertilizer. In some industries, it also found its place as a protection method from electrosmog (electromagnetic radiation resulting from wireless technology).


How to Use Binchotan Charcoal for Water Filtration

First, rinse it out with water. You can then just pop the charcoal into the water to let it work its magic. Leave it for 1-2 hours to bind the chlorine and lime; during this time, the pH values adjust and the water becomes clean and more alkaline.

The charcoal has a life span of about 4-6 months and every month you need to boil it for 10 minutes to clean it out from the impurities it absorbed. At the end of their lifetime, you can then use the charcoal sticks as a fertilizer for your garden where it will work miracles on your plants.

The most straightforward use of Binchotan charcoal is to place the Binchotan charcoal sticks in a jug of water to cleanse it from chemicals and heavy metals commonly found in tap water. In turn, the Japanese charcoal releases healthy minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium in your water, making it healthier to drink. In essence, you can consider the Bincho charcoal a natural form of water filter pitchers where you use your own pitcher or jug of water and only add the filtration media.

All in all, a homemade Binchotan charcoal water filter is a completely sustainable product that will leave you wondering how you ever got by without it. You can buy Binchotan charcoal online, although it is always advisable to check whether or not it has been properly made. If you have the choice, you should look for Kishu Binchotan charcoal to purchase.


Does White Charcoal Actually Work?

The microporous structure has a 270 square meter of internal surface per gram. This allows a process of absorption to take place. What happens is that particles are attracted and stick to the surface. In this way, the pores clean the surrounding atmosphere of chlorine, heavy metals, radio frequencies, and electromagnetic waves.

Radiation is also weakened when it passes through the charcoal. It also creates “good energy” by radiating negative ions. Negative ions create a negative electric charge in the air and attract positive ions such as carbon dioxide molecules.

Too many positive ions can cause difficulty breathing and fatigue, but Binchotan absorbs these positive ions and replaces them with negative ions which can be found in waves, thunderstorms and waterfalls. This is why these occurrences are so exhilarating.

Imagine having the same energy as a wave, waterfall, or thunderstorm in your closet to absorb bad smells! Does a Binchotan charcoal water filter actually work? Yes, it does.

How to Purify Water Using Japanese Charcoal

Binchotan can purify and mineralize your water, making it almost as refreshing as a glass of fresh, ice-cold water scooped from a bubbling mountain brook. Only, much cleaner because babbling mountain brooks are probably not the best place from which to get your water.

A huge advantage of Binchotan is that you can make a fool-proof water filter out of it, right from the comfort of your own home.

  • It will be a little dusty when you get it; this is a given considering the stick you bought were covered in white ash just a few days ago. What you need to do is brush off the excess ash and give it a good rinse to remove any dust, ash or dirt
  • Transfer the charcoal into a pot and boil it for about 10 minutes. When it’s done, remove the water and leave it to air dry
  • Put the charcoal into your drinking water and let it sit for about 2-3 hours. This will give it ample time to soak up any and all impurities
  • Leave the charcoal in the container and refill it when needed. Just make sure to “clean” the charcoal every 2-3 weeks by boiling it for 10 minutes. The charcoal will last for about 6 months before you will need a new batch

The best part is that the charcoal is completely tasteless, so you won’t need to worry about any residual taste in your water. You can easily buy Binchotan charcoal online at very affordable prices.

IPPINKA Kishu Binchotan Charcoal Slim Personal Sticks

  • The filtering time of the sticks is approximately 3-4 hours;
  • Use 1 stick for a personal water bottle, or use 2 sticks for a water carafe/jug.
  • There are 6 sticks of Binchotan charcoal in the package;
  • The average size of each stick is approximately 0.5″ in diameter and 4″ in length;
  • Reactivate charcoal every two weeks by boiling for 10 minutes and letting dry.

How Does this White Japanese Charcoal Can Benefit You

Besides healthy water, you can use Binchotan charcoal as an air filter and a fertilizer. You can leave a few pieces around the house to filter the air, or even put it into the fridge to prevent any nasty smells.

When the 6 months are up and it is starting to look a little worse for wear, you can recycle it and use it as a fertilizer.

Bottom Line

This all-natural wonder product from Japan should become a staple in every household. It cleans water and removes bad smells, leaving everything it touches to smell or feel like a bubbling mountain brook.

A water filter doesn’t have to be plastic. Mother Nature has refined the best solutions over the years, and this is one of them.

If you’re still not sure that charcoal sticks can remove some of the most dangerous drinking water contaminants in your home, perhaps a traditional water filter is more your thing. Check out our comprehensive guide to reverse osmosis systems to find out more.

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Hi I'm Jamie, teacher and owner/chief contributor at waterfilteranswers.com. We strive to bring you the most informative water filter reviews in the most intuitive and user friendly way. Besides offering advice on the water filter to suit your needs, we also post topical articles on water pollution and the environment. Stay connected and follow us on, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more!

1 Comment
  1. Hi, In regards to how long the binchotan charcoal works as a water filter. Does it really stop working after 6 months? I expect that it naturally loses effectiveness over time but I would like to know or test just how much effectiveness is lost over time. Is it possible that after 6 months it is still 80% effective as a water filter and after 2 years maybe it’s still 70% effective as a water filter. Do you know of any tests that have been done on this. I guess I could learn how to test this. And this is assuming it’s boiled monthly.

    Also, does using 2 pieces of charcoal have double the effect?

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