An activated charcoal stick to filter water, who would have thought it?
Well, the Japanese did a few centuries ago and the technique is still thriving today.
Using activated charcoal as a water filter involves natural materials that have been specially treated to provide long-term, sustainable use.
I’ve been using a Black and Blum activated charcoal water filter that I bought from andkeep.com* for six months and have found it to be both effective and satisfying.
It’s natural, eco-friendly nature is a huge bonus for me, plus I can actually taste the difference when I drink tap water that has been filtered with activated charcoal.
Let’s have a look at the Black and Blum charcoal water filter.
Disclaimer: Firstly, I bought this filter with my own money and any views portrayed here are genuine and honest. This post contains some affiliate links to the activated charcoal stick that I use. I may receive a small commission should you click through and make a purchase as a thanks from the seller. No cost is incurred for you.
About the Black and Blum Binchotan Water Filter
The Black and Blum activated charcoal stick is a fantastic way to filter your tap water. It can remove impurities, chlorine, VOCs and even microplastics from the water, leaving behind healthier, purer and better tasting water.
Activated charcoal is also known as Binchōtan, which means white charcoal in Japanese, where this technique of filtering water originates from.
The activated Binchōtan used for the Black and Blum charcoal stick comes from sustainable sourced wood. Traditionally, Binchōtan would be made from an oak tree.
The activated charcoal stick comes vacuum wrapped in plastic. This is done after the activated charcoal has been sterilised, so it keeps super clean and away from any contamination during transport and storage.
This isn’t perfect but all considered it’s much better than other filters. I’d love to see a more sustainable material used for this if possible.
The vacuum wrapped charcoal stick comes in a small and fully recyclable cardboard box. All you have to do is take off the vacuum wrap then you’re activated charcoal is ready to go straight into a bottle of water.
Is the Black and Blum charcoal water filter stick any good?
I’m lucky enough to live in an area where the tap water comes down from the Lake District. This is described as soft water because it’s mostly sourced from surface water, meaning it’s naturally low in calcium carbonate (limestone) and fluoride.
For this reason, I’ve never felt the need to filter my tap water before drinking.
That said, I decided to try an activated charcoal stick to enhance my drinking water even further after reading some very good reviews and the benefits that Binchōtan can have.
After a month of use I’ve been genuinely impressed by the activated charcoal water filter. I’ve even done a couple of comparison tests for other people to try and a positive difference has been noted.
Even though the tap water I drink is naturally soft, the activated charcoal stick gives the water quite a unique, smooth texture. It’s almost like there is less microscopic ‘stuff’ in the water and makes it taste more natural.
I put the activated charcoal water filter stick straight into my stainless steel water bottle and haven’t taken it out since (aside from rinsing the bottle). I always fill my bottle up at night and leave it in the fridge, providing me with fantastic, filtered water every morning.
Even better, just one stick lasts around 6 months. This gives incredible value for a natural water filter as well as great eco-friendly credentials.
Does a charcoal stick really filter water?
Yes, an activated charcoal stick really does filter water.
Regular, old charcoal you put on the barbeque won’t do the job, it has to be ‘activated’.
Activated charcoal means it has undergone a process of superheating and oxygen addition.
The result is an incredible porous piece or stick of activated charcoal with millions of tiny fractures and cavities. Impurities found in tap water are chemically attracted to these pores where they are then bound up, leaving nice, filtered water behind.
You can read in more detail here how activated charcoal filters water.
On a side note, the activated charcoal stick is not for use with juice, cordial and squash.
Benefits of drinking activated charcoal water
There are multiple benefits to using an activated charcoal stick to filter your tap water.
From my experience of using the charcoal filter alongside the science behind it, here’s a list of the benefits.
- Made from 100% natural wood (make sure this is also sustainable sourced wood)
- It improves the taste of tap water
- Removes impurities present in tap water whilst adding good minerals back in
- The charcoal stick itself is tasteless, odourless and non-toxic
- One charcoal filter can last 6 months (with a 10 minute boil in water from 3 months)
- Fantastic value for money (less than £10)
- They are sterile and ready to use straight away
- Fits into almost all water bottles
- Act as a good reminder to drink more water
- Reduces the need for plastic use
- Save money by reducing spend on bottled water
- Multiple secondary uses after 6 months
Are charcoal water filters safe?
Yes, charcoal water filters are very safe to use.
An activated charcoal stick is usually sourced from a tree, but the carbon source can also come from coal, bamboo or coconut shells.
The wood is superheated and combined with an inert gas (one that doesn’t react) as well as oxygen. It is then sterilised.
An activated charcoal stick is non-toxic, tasteless and odourless.
Although tap water in the UK is safe to drink, the Binchōtan stick attracts and adsorbs impurities and other chemicals present in the water water, such as chlorine and nitrate.
This leaves you to drink the purer, filtered water that remains. There’s also evidence that beneficial chemicals, such as calcium and magnesium, are released into the water.
You don’t need to wash the activated charcoal stick and shouldn’t attempt to clean it with soap! Basically, your charcoal water filter shouldn’t come into contact with anything other than water.
Who are Black and Blum?
Black + Blum are a London based company set up in 1998 by Dan Black and Martin Blum.
The two university friends met whilst studying industrial design at Northumbria University, which explains why so many of the Black + Blum products are incredibly sleek and well-designed. Not just focussed on aesthetics, the products are always built on a foundation of form and function.
Black + Blum design original products with a focus on sustainability. In mind is how the products can be re-used over a long period of time as well as more ethical choices about material use. Favoured eco-friendly materials they use included bamboo, environmentally friendly cork, cardboard packaging, glass, silicone and stainless steel.
Since 2014, Black + Blum is now led just by Dan Black. It’s great to know that this successful company is still founder-led.
The Black and Blum activated charcoal stick is a fantastic choice if you want an all-natural, sustainable, eco-friendly and highly effective water filter. It will lasts months and months of daily use, helping to save plenty of single use plastics during the meantime.
You can combine the activated charcoal stick with any type of water bottle, container or carafe for the fridge. I like to pair mine with an eco-friendly stainless steel water bottle from WAKEcup.