Last Updated on June 29, 2021 by Sarah
Want a constant supply of filtered water, with a balanced pH and added essential minerals for around £20 ($25)?
Then read on and I’ll show you how to make a homemade water filter with Binchotan Charcoal that does just that!
It’s incredibly easy to make and takes about 20 minutes.
Firstly, why bother filtering your water?
Well, if you’ve ever noticed a tinge of chlorine in the smell or taste of your tap water, you’ll probably agree it’s pretty horrid. Pure water really isn’t supposed to smell or taste of anything.
I’ve used a Brita water filter for years and I find that the distinct smell and taste of chlorine disappears. Basic water filters are very inexpensive and you can pick one up online at a very reasonable cost.
Recently, however, I went on a splurge to reduce the amount of plastic in my kitchen.
Brita no longer seem to produce their glass filter pitcher (although glass filters do exist), so I decided to get creative and make my own. When budget allows I intend to invest in a Big Berkey, but until then I’d heard that a stick of Binchotan Charcoal can work wonders on tap water.
As well as the fact it can effectively remove chlorine, I was also attracted to the fact Binchotan charcoal mineralises the water and balances its pH.
But, what, you may be asking, is Binchotan Charcoal?
What is Binchotan Charcoal?
If you’ve ever used a Brita Water Filter Pitcher, these and indeed many other water filters use activated charcoal in their filters to trap impurities such as chlorine, effectively reducing or removing it from your tap water.Binchotan active charcoal works in the same way and has been used in Japan as a natural water purifier since the 17th century. So it’s not some bonkers, woo woo method of filtering water based in pseudoscience – Binchotan Charcoal works in the same way as shop bought water filters that use a carbon filter (most do in some form).
The Egyptians also discovered that storing water in charcoal made it stay fresher and taste better and carbon has been a standard feature in water treatment ever since.
Made in the Kishu region of Japan, Binchotan Charcoal is raw wood that is turned into charcoal sticks through a process of burning oak branches at extremely high temperatures and then rapidly cooling and smothering the flaming wood with dirt.
This process is one of nature’s many wonders, as it carbonises the wood and leaves a porous surface containing endless tiny cavities that are then able to trap unwanted pollutants such as chlorine, though a process called adsorption (not to be confused with absorption).
In fact Binchotan charcoal is regarded as the highest quality of activated charcoal available for purifying water.
So, what are the benefits of using Binchotan Charcoal to filter your drinking water?
Binchotan Charcoal: A Great Way To Mineralise Your Water
The main benefits of using Binchotan charcoal to filter drinking water are:
- the charcoal’s alkaline qualities soften and improve the taste and odour of tap water
- it reduces chlorine and chlorinated by products, as well as some types of sediment
- it mineralises the water, adding important minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium
- it balances the pH of the water.
Although the effectiveness of charcoal itself as a water treatment is not up for debate (it’s been used for at least 4000 years), I was also interested in whether Binchotan Charcoal can remove more modern contaminants such as synthetic pesticides.
Binchotan Charcoal: The Sciencey Bit
According to emedicinehelth, activated charcoal is estimated to reduce absorption of poisonous substances by around 60% and Binchotan Charcoal is often reported to naturally adsorb toxins such as lead, mercury, pesticides and pharmaceuticals, in addition to chlorine and chlorinated by products.
A commitment to what Binchotan actually removes (apart from chlorine and some sediment) is hard to find online, but this article explains that charcoal can indeed remove pesticides and pharmaceuticals, but only when it’s been heated to much higher temperatures than usual.
Take a normal lump of charcoal, for example. This is heated to about 500 degrees, but Binchotan Charcoal is briefly heated to temperatures of around 950 degrees and it would seem this is what makes all the difference, since the wood converts more completely into char and becomes highly porous with a greatly increased surface area.
So the suggestion is that Binchotan Charcoal is indeed pretty effective at blitzing a range of contaminants.
For me, though, until I invest in a Big Berkey, the proof is always going to be largely in the taste. Regular tap water tastes horrible to me, it just feels unnaturally gloopy and the taste and smell of chlorine is sometimes overpowering.
However, water from my homemade water filter with Binchotan Charcoal tastes clean and crisp and to be honest I actually prefer it to my Brita filtered water.
I’ve also been looking to alkalise my diet more recently, as Western diets can be very acidic, so I love the fact Binchotan balances the pH of the water and also adds minerals such as magnesium, which can often be deficient in modern diets.
Want To Filter Out Flouride?
As an aside, I just wanted to mention fluoride here. It’s one of the top things many people want to filter out, so if you are looking to filter out fluoride, activated carbon filters can’t do this. The UK where I live doesn’t currently add fluoride, but many US and Australian states, for example, do.
For fluoride removal, I’d recommend investing in a Big Berkey or a British Berkefeld stainless steel filter with dedicated fluoride filters. Whilst Big Berkeys and British Berkefeld filters don’t come cheap, they should last you for life, plus they pretty much filter out every contaminant going.
How To Make Your Own Water Filter Using Binchotan Charcoal
Ok, back to the Binchotan.
It’s incredibly easy to learn how to make a homemade water filter with Binchotan charcoal, plus it’s also very inexpensive, especially if you consider the cumulative cost of replacing a filter in a traditional filter pitcher every month or so.
Sticks of Binchotan cost around £4-5 ($7-8) and will last you around 3 months.
I’ve now replaced my Brita filter pitcher in my own kitchen with my own homemade water filter using Binchotan Charcoal, using one of these glass Kilner glass dispensers and a stick of Black + Blum Binchotan Charcoal.
Simply follow the steps below to make your own Binchotan water filter and you’ll be set up with your own filter in no time.
4 Steps To a Homemade Water Filter With Binchotan Charcoal
Step 1 – Purchase some Binchotan Charcoal (it’s both inexpensive & easily available from online stores like Amazon). Give it a quick wash in cold water to remove any debris or ash.
Step 2 – Place your stick of Binchotan charcoal in a pan of water and boil for 10 minutes.
Step 3 – Drain off the water and allow your stick of Binchotan Charcoal to cool completely.
Step 4 – Place the cooled Binchotan stick in a pitcher, or jug, containing tap water and leave to sit for around 4-8 hours, or overnight, to allow it to adsorb contaminants and mineralise the water.
Note: It’s recommended you re-boil the Binchotan stick every month or so to ‘refresh it’ and use a completely new charcoal stick approximately every 3 -6 months.
Tip: I use a 5 litre Kilner dispenser (pictured above) and have added 2 sticks of Binchotan, as with 1 stick I could still detect the odd hint of chlorine after leaving the water to do its thing overnight, but since adding a second stick this hint of chlorine has completely disappeared.
In terms of the type of vessel you use to hold your Binchotan Charcoal and water, I recommend using a glass jug or container of a size that suits your needs.
I use a Kilner glass dispenser, which works really well for me, as it provides enough water for drinking and cooking throughout the day. I use a 5 litre dispenser, but there are larger ones available if you have a large family or use a lot of water.
How To Recycle Your Binchotan Charcoal
The beauty of Binchotan charcoal sticks is that once you’ve used one to filter your tap water with, you can then re-cycle it by placing it in your fridge to absorb smells or composting it in your garden.
If you want to keep things super simple, Black and Blum sell Eau Good Water Filter Bottles and carafes, both of which come with a stick of Binchotan Charcoal. They’re really stylish and to be honest I nearly bought the carafe, but then thought why not make my own homemade version with a larger capacity.
How Long Does Binchotan Charcoal Take To Work?
According to Black + Blum, it’s recommended that 1 hour will offer good results on tap water, 4 hours great better results and 8 hours optimum results.
Some people argue it’s annoying having to actually (shock horror) ‘wait’ for the water to purify, but to me this is just reflective of modern day culture’s ‘now’ philosophy. If you want to enjoy the benefits of Binchotan purified water, you need to wait a few hours. That’s just the way it is and as nature intended.
Personally, I pop 5 litres of tap water in my Kilner dispense every night and its all ready to use for the next day. So with a bit of discipline, there really is zero annoyance!
The Final Verdict on My Homemade Binchotan Charcoal Water Filter
I love my Binchotan Charcoal homemade water filter. It was super easy to make and very inexpensive at under £20 ($25). Supplemented with a fresh stick of Binchotan every 3-6 months, this will work out much cheaper than buying a new Brita filter every month.
And more importantly of course, I personally find the taste superior to most bottled and pitcher filtered water.
I also absolutely love the fact the Binchotan balances the pH of the water and adds in important minerals such as magnesium.
Living in a health conscious household these are both big wins for me in a Western society where diets are often far too acidic, as well as lacking in important minerals so essential to the wellbeing of the body.
Have you ever used Binchotan Charcoal? What was your experience?