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What is Binchotan?

Kichu Binchotan Charcoal is the purest charcoal on Earth. Also known as white charcoal, it is a unique material hand-made by Japanese artisans deep in the mountains of the Wakayama prefecture.

A piece of Kishu Binchotan resembles a black wooden stick. The resemblance is not accidental. Kishu Binchotan is made from Japanese Holm oak, which grows on the forested hills of the Kii peninsula.

Oak branches are stacked inside kilns and baked at ultra-high temperatures over several weeks. The artisan controls the supply of oxygen, first shutting it off and then slowly increasing it. This process, first developed over 300 hundred years ago, turns wood into carbon. Binchotan charcoal has the highest content of carbon of any charcoal, up to 98%.

While there are other types of Binchotan, made in other areas of Japan such as Shikoku, Kishu Binchotan is of the highest quality. Artisans from the Kishu area of the Kii peninsula were the first to discover the secrets of making Binchotan, and have access to the best quality oak.

binchotan kiln

What does it do?

For centuries, Binchotan has been used in traditional Japanese cuisine for grilling. Binchotan burns at temperatures over 300 degrees, but produces no smoke.  Any fat dripping from food just glides over the super-hot surface of Binchotan, instead of sticking to it. Meat cooked over white charcoal acquires a refined flavour and retains its juiciness. Any Japanese yakitori bar worth its salt will use Binchotan in their grills.

Binchotan’s wonderful burning quality is not the only great thing about it. Binchotan has a unique super-porous structure. It is a powerful absorber. It will absorb both metals and gasses. In Japan, it has been used as an effective and eco-friendly water filter for the last 10-15 years.

It will remove chlorine, heavy metals and unpleasant tastes from your water in just a few hours. It will release alkali ions, raising pH levels to 8.5.  

Filter out chlorine, heavy metals and alkalise water at the same time? Yes, binchotan can do it all.

A truly green product

Kishu Binchotan is one of the most ecologically sound products on the planet. The artisans of Kishu are not just charcoal makers. They are also the caretakers of its forests. They don’t indiscriminately log the oak to produce as much Binchotan as they can. They carefully inspect the forest and see what trees are ready to be pruned. They will cut a few branches off here and there, leaving the tree alive and healthy.

When Binchotan can no longer be used as a water filter, it can be crushed and returned to the soil, to fertilise and hydrate it. The life of Binchotan is beautiful – it is born through the skill and lifetime dedication of Japanese artisans, it is used to make water cleaner and healthier for humans, and in the end, it is given back to Earth.

How to use it

Our product – Happy Coal™ – brings you Kishu Binchotan in a convenient biodegradable packaging, enough to effectively filter 2 liters of water. Just add about 50-60 g of Binchotan per litre of water, and leave the water container in a fridge for 2-3 hours. Enjoy a beautiful tasting water free from nasty chemicals for up to 3 months. To ensure Binchotan’s effectiveness, the charcoal must be boiled every 3-4 weeks to get rid of everything it has absorbed.

Other uses of Binchotan

Binchotan is also an effective air filter. It is especially effective in a fridge, where it will absorb all the typical fridge smells.  We are currently working on a convenient fridge-ready Binchotan pack.

Another amazing thing about this material is that Binchotan creates negative ions. Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments. Mountains, beaches, riverbanks, forests, every type of naturally beautiful, uplifting environment is rich in negative ions. In humans, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our energy. Wealthy Japanese build houses that contain a layer of Binchotan under the floorboards, to produce a harmonious, health-giving space.