The time has FINALLY come to kiss your clunky plastic filter goodbye. The Japanese-inspired activated charcoal trend has finally arrived on our shores and is rapidly (r)evolutionising water filtering systems in South Africa. Let’s be honest, plastic water filters are kind of a buzzkill when it comes to kitchen and home ware design. Pour it any way you like, a plastic water filter jug on your lunch table just isn’t chic. But, drop a stick of activated charcoal in a stylish glass jug of tap water and you’re basically Martha Stewart! Sure, somebody might poke fun at you for having a dirty rock in the water jug, but you have the power to kick them out of your house, right after schooling them on the fact that it’s only a matter of time before activated charcoal takes the SA health world by storm.

Activated charcoal, otherwise known as White Charcoal or Binchotan, purifies tap water by adsorbing toxins and bacteria (such as Chlorine, E. coli, Lead, Mercury, Copper and Iron), enriching it with beneficial minerals (such as Calcium and Magnesium), while also softening the water by balancing an acidic pH and improving the flavour. And, of course, there are the environmental benefits too with some brands offering 3 months of daily use before the charcoal sticks or coins have to be tossed.

KURO-Bō

Activated charcoal is not the same substance as that found in charcoal bricks. These little black sticks and discs are made by heating carbon-rich materials (such as wood, peat, coconut shells, or sawdust) to very high temperatures, making it extremely adsorbent, allowing it to bind to molecules, ions, or atoms and remove these from dissolved substances. With activated charcoal, tap water can be naturally and easily filtered through an eco-friendly purification process, free of plastics and costly cartridges that have to be constantly replaced and disposed of. You simply boil a charcoal stick for a few minutes before popping it into a glass bottle or jug, and hey presto, in a few minutes you’ll be you’re ready to enjoy delicious purified water.

KURO-Bō launched in South Africa in 2017 and the brand is changing the way South Africans drink purified and mineralised water, at home and on-the-go, and with zero single-use plastic. The brand launched with a Gō-Ecō 1L Bottle along with KURO-Bō sticks and kōins in January 2018 and has now extended its planet-changing range to include a more compact 550ml bottle as well as the KURO-Bō Gō-Ecō Natural Cleaning Brush with natural sisal bristles and bamboo handle. KURO-Bō says its activated charcoal lasts for a minimum of 3 months of daily use and the hand-cut sticks and kōins are quickly activated through 10-minute boiling. KURO-Bō sticks are intended for up to 3 litres at a time, and KURO-Bō kōins for up to 1 litre at a time.

KURO-Bō

KURO-Bō bottles retail from R260 for the 1 litre, R220 for the 550 ml, and a box of Koins from R180.

While brand selection is still limited in South Africa, brands like EcoPlanet Bamboo and Kishu Charcoal have also entered the market with packaged activated charcoal sticks. Available through health and wellness stores like Faithful to Nature and Wellness Warehouse, these high-grade bamboo charcoal filters are sure to get your planet-saving senses tingling thanks to their multi-use properties.

Not just for water filtration activated charcoal has also been said to be an excellent soil booster, odour neutralizer, and air purifier. When you have finished with the charcoal sticks or discs you can grind them up and add them to your soil as the ultimate composter, giving you even more bang for your Binchotan buck. Eco-friendly, economical, reusable and recyclable, activated charcoal could just be a planet warriors dream come true.

Want more great reads? Check out our Lifestyle section for more must-reads reviews and news.