We think water is as alive as us. We all need water to stay alive and thrive. So when the water we put into our bodies is unhealthy because it is polluted with toxins like chlorine and lead, it defeats the purpose of hydration: to promote life.
We often get asked about simple plastic-free water filtration systems. As far as we can tell, there are not a lot out there. Most water filtration systems use plastic casing for the filters and/or the storage vessel, or are large and expensive. So we've always been on the lookout for something small, simple and inexpensive to rival the Britas®' of the world. We think we may have found a wonderful option.
Kishu binchōtan or white charcoal is a high quality hardwood charcoal carefully made in the Kishu or Wakayama region of southern Japan. Sustainably harvested branches of holm oak trees grown specifically for this purpose are slowly fired in traditional kiln ovens over several days by kishu artisans. Their techniques have been perfected over hundreds of years.
The resulting charcoal is an elegant glasslike substance with millions of microcavities that give it remarkable toxin-absorbing properties. The kishu charcoal naturally bonds with certain toxins, including lead, mercury, cadmium, copper and chlorine. It simultaneously imparts minerals that are healthy for the body: calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphates and zinc.
You just throw it in your water container and that's it. One stick lasts approximately six months and, depending on its size, can filter up to 8 gallons of water a day. Every month it should be boiled in a pot for about ten minutes and then dried for ten minutes, a simple ritual that keeps the exterior cavities open. When the water filtering capacity is reached, you can then use the kishu charcoal in your fridge or just place it in a room, where it will absorb odours and help freshen the air. You can then bury it in the garden or put it in your composter where it will slowly decompose.
LifeWithoutPlastic.com offers 4 different sizes of binchōtan charcoal: bottle size (1 L / 32 oz), pitcher size (5 L / 1.3 gal.), medium dispenser size (15L / 4 gal.), and large dispenser (30 L / 8 gal.).
We even like to leave pieces of it lying on our desks and around the office. It's intriguing to just look at and is a great conversation starter or long phone conversation playmate. If you get distracted from the conversation because you're lost in the minutiae of the pores, just explain yourself and see what sort of interesting response you get. "Oh sorry, I was just marvelling at the millions of absorbant microparticles in my portable Japanese kishu binchōtan charcoal water filter. What was that you were saying?" Great way to spice up the day, while keeping your water healthy.
Jay Sinha, Co-Owner
Image credits: EarthTimes (top right), Kishu