Thoughts on health, happiness and sustainability

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Drinking charcoal

We recently had breakfast at RawPress in Mayfair where they had bottles of tap water on each table with beautiful black sticks inside. It turned out that these sticks were actually water filters made of activated charcoal.


Excited by the idea that water can be purified in such a simple eco-friendly way, yet skeptical as to whether it really worked, I looked it up. It turns out that activated charcoal is used in mainstream medicine to treat the symptoms of indigestion, flatulence, and hyperacidity, but more significantly to treat cases of poison by absorbing toxins into its micro-porous structure.  It has even been demonstrated to significantly and rapidly reduce toxins in drinking water.  James R. Self, Ph.D of Colorado State University Soil, Water, Plant Testing Lab stated that:

“Kishu Charcoal has been found to be effective at reducing lead, mercury, copper, cadmium and chlorine, over a period of time.”

So I ordered some online from Black+Blum to use at home in our water jugs.

I was somewhat annoyed that a relatively eco-friendly and completely biodegradable product was wrapped in vast amounts of plastic and polystyrene.  Black+Blum are a renowned design firm but have clearly not yet set their creative minds to the sustainability or user experience of their own packaging.

Black+Blum Packaging
Black+Blum Packaging Fail

Anyhow, the sticks themselves are really beautiful.  I thought that they might discolour the water or make it taste of charcoal, but in fact they don’t seem to leave any residue at all and the taste of the water has not really been affected, so hopefully they’re hard at work reducing some of the toxins in our drinking water.

2 thoughts on “Drinking charcoal

  1. Hello Tom, maybe you were not in possession of all the facts when publishing your review? The carbon stick is deliberately vacuum packed in resilient plastic so that the end user receives the stick in pristine condition. Because the stick is hydroscopic and highly aDsorbant, the best way to prevent any contamination during transit is to package the stick in a secure plastic cover – not a big deal, it’s for your benefit. Moving on, many consumers have been encouraged by writers of health articles to judge the TASTE of everything. You cannot ‘taste’ by-products of chlorination (aka Chloramines/THM’s etc) plus heavy metals and other unhealthy contaminants. Human taste buds are very crude, they can only detect a limited range such as salt, sweet, bitter, sour etc. and not many of the more subtle compounds in food and drink. We have tested this product in our science lab and found it to be an Eco-friendly method of purifying tap water – far more effective than a well known brand of jug filter. We recommend this product to our clinics, patients and anyone who really cares about the need to reduce the billions of plastic water bottles and plastic coated jug cartridges in landfill sites. Concerned about the Planet? Time to get real!

    Michael Grant

    • Hi Michael

      Thanks for your “passionate” comment. I’m not sure if you had actually read my article when writing your comment, but I was referring to the excessive amount of plastic and polystyrene used in the packaging, which is disproportionate to the product itself as shown in the photo very clearly. Just because a product is better than a terrible alternative environmentally, does not mean that talking about improving further should be a taboo subject. Regarding the issue of taste, I didn’t make any reference to being able to taste the presence or absence of chlorine or heavy metal contaminants but simply an initial concern that the charcoal itself might leave a colour or taste in the water, which my article confirms it does not. So it seems that we are on the same page on that point. I wish you and your patients all the best 🙂

      Tom Greenwood

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