Black Magic: The Superpowers of KURO-Bo Charcoal

If you think KURO-Bō charcoal sticks and kōins are Nature’s miracle water filter you’re right.

However, KURO-Bō charcoal is a lot more magical than you may realise. Known as Binchotan in Japan, it has special super-powers that have been known in Japan for centuries but are only now becoming known in the west.

 But first, here is its #1 Super-power.


No, it’s not a spelling error. Adsorption is the magical property of Binchotan charcoal that allows it to purify water (from chlorine and other toxins) while at the same time releasing good minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium. 

How does it do that?

In the manufacturing process, wood is rapidly heated to very high temperatures and then starved of oxygen thereby preserving the carbon content of the wood. This results in an extremely hard, dense charcoal which is incredibly porous giving it an enormous surface area.  In fact, the countless micro-pores created are such that one gram of activated charcoal can have a surface area of up to 1500m2 – about 6 times the size of a tennis court – which is why it can so efficiently adsorb as many toxins as it does!

Toxins attach to the surface of these micro-pores and are never released back into the water.  Boiling the charcoal stick for 10 minutes, re-opens the pores and enables it to adsorb more toxins.


 At the same time, Binchotan charcoal is brilliant at absorption.  It absorbs moisture from humid air, then releases it when the air is drier.  It can also adsorb unpleasant odours so it’s great for maintaining a pleasant environment in bathrooms, fridges and inside cupboards.


Ethylene is a hydrocarbon gas that is naturally released by certain fruits (like bananas, apples & grapes) and vegetables (like asparagus, onions & potatoes) and its job is to speed up the ripening process. If you put a KURO-Bō stick or kōins near fruit and vegetables, it will adsorb the ethylene gas and slow down the ripening process.


Adding a KURO-Bō stick or kōins to your rice cooking water, makes for fluffier, tastier rice.  This is due to the mineral content of the charcoal. Its sodium and potassium begin to dissolve acting on the amylase in the rice causing the grains to swell more.


Pop a KURO-Bō stick or kōins into the water of fresh cut flowers and they will stay fresher and bloom for longer.


Mix the ashes or small crushed pieces of Binchotan into your garden soil to enrich it.  Crushed charcoal makes an excellent fertilizer as it helps to balance the pH as well as optimise the moisture in the soil.  Its as easy as grabbing your old KURO-Bō, a hammer and some newspaper!


Some artists love working with charcoal as opposed to pencils as it has a ‘wild’ element to it that frees the artist’s hand to draw more expressively.  It can also be ground to a powder in a mortar and turned into a paint ,or simply used dry.  

And of course, once you’ve used up your KURO-Bō sticks or kōins, keep them for adding to your fireplace as a heat source, or to your braai as a cooking fuel.  Be careful though, because of the chemical toxins adsorbed, they can ‘pop’ and ‘spark’ a bit.

Made from Nature and returned to Nature. Living waste-free doesn’t get easier than this.  And as always, the real magic comes from Nature. 

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