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How to Use Kishu Binchotan to Filter Water

  • 2 min read

What is Kishu Binchotan?

Kishu Binchotan, also known as shiro-zumi or white charcoal, is an activated charcoal or carbon made in the Kishu region of Japan.  It is a traditional material and is widely used in Japan for food preparation, as a smoke-free, long-burning BBQ fuel and Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging). 

Other applications include: water filtration, humidifying, air filter, radio frequency shielding, electromagnetic wave absorber, bathroom/cupboard/fridge deodorising and personal care products.

This Kishu Binchotan is made from 100% Ubame Oak (Quercus phillyraeoides) which is the official tree of Wakayama prefecture, Japan where it is made.

How is Kishu Binchotan made?

It is made in a kiln by artisans who heat the stacked oak branches to a relatively low temperature (200–400 degC) over a long period and raise the kiln temperature to approx. 1000degC towards the end of the pyrolysis process. The charcoal is then removed and smothered with a moistened mixture of earth, sand and ash. The use of ash to quench the material gives the charcoal a pale grey colour and its name of ‘white’ charcoal.

How does Kishu Binchotan work?

This process of heating and cooling carbonises the wood structure and creates countless microscopic cavities.  It is around 97% pure carbon and has been reported to have a surface area of approx. 270 m2/g (reference:  It adsorbs or bonds with toxins at a molecular level.  It also releases Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium.  The Colorado State University produced the following table and graph that can be found at and details the metals that were reduced in their research.


How to Use Kishu Binchotan

The Kishu Binchotan pieces have been washed to remove the ash, sterilised by boiling and dried.  They are ready for use.

Water Filtration with Kishu Binchotan

Place the Binchotan into a water container.  50-60g is recommended per 1 litre of water.  Fill the container with tap water.

Chlorine, metals and volatile compounds that cause odours are filtered from the water by moving through the trillions of cavities in the charcoal.

For best results leave overnight.  Though you can taste the difference after an hour.

Enjoy the water and continually top-up the container with tap water.

Every 3 weeks remove the Binchotan and place it in a saucepan of cold water.  Boil the water for 10 minutes.  Discard the saucepan water.  Cool down and air dry the Binchotan before placing it back into the water container and refilling it with water.

The boiling keeps the Binchotan’s pores open to maximise adsorption.

After 3 months, or when the water is not as ‘fresh’ or a smell is noticeable, replace with a new piece of Kishu Binchotan.

Following is a care chart for keeping track of time for maintaining the charcoal.

Use Start Date


Boil 1 Date                = Start Date + 3 weeks


Boil 2 Date                = Boil 1 Date + 3 weeks


Boil 3 Date                = Boil 2 Date + 3 weeks


Replace Date           = Boil 3 Date + 3 weeks



Second Uses

Some of the uses for Kishu Binchotan after water filtration use are:

  • Deodoriser – put in cupboards or fridge
  • Dehumidifier
  • Improve soil – crumble into soil


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