For centuries, artisans in Japan’s Wakayama region have turned oak branches into Binchotan, a type of activated charcoal known for its purifying properties and its white hue, earning it the name “White Charcoal.”
Our infatuation with Binchotan began two decades ago, when we discovered the material while traveling through Japan. We’ve since embarked on a 100-year mission to spread its benefits to the world. That, combined with the “less is more” mantra of our Danish design, allows us to positively influence people through sensible, well-made products.
We start by sourcing the finest eco-friendly Binchotan, test it in accordance with the highest European standards, and turn it into purifying products for the air, water, and body. Over the last ten years, Sort of Coal has become an ever-evolving looking glass to life, nature and purity— as if the three were never distinct. The company was founded in 2008 by Pernille Lembcke and is currently owned by her and Gregoris Kalai.
The raw material is harvested by local craftsmen in such a way that it promotes rapid and fertile regrowth, ensuring that a healthy eco-system is still in place after centuries of traditional White Charcoal production.
First, ubame oak is baked at low temperatures in a handmade clay kiln. Te temperature is then rapidly increased before the embers are starved of oxygen by shutting the opening to the firebox, thereby preserving the carbon content of the wood. It’s that last step that differs from typical charcoal making, allowing Binchotan to retain around 97% of its carbon content. Once used, each charcoal product goes back to nature as a rich fertilizer.
Kishu Binchotan remains the finest, densest and purest form and is hand-made through a slow process over six weeks. This process is passed down through generations and the ritual around it is cherished greatly. White Charcoal has been used for centuries in an endless cycle of birth and rebirth, yet never been more relevant to our way of thought.
To continue the product lifecycle of our products, simply crush your used charcoal and mix it in with potting or garden soil. An excellent fertilizer, it will add nourishment and help regulate the PH balance for your plants to flourish and play their vital part in the carbon cycle of life.
The power of White Charcoal
White Charcoal is one of the purest forms of carbon available – this is what makes it such a powerful material. Still being produced according to ancient and sustainable Japanese handcraft traditions White Charcoal is nothing but a stage of life that happens to pass through our hands with multiple beneficial effects on our bodies and mind, before we return it to the earth.
Filled with countless microcavities, the surface area of just one gram of the material equals 250 m² , around the size of a tennis court. This allows White Charcoal to absorb impurities from water, air or even skin, while releasing vital minerals absorbed by the living tree, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.
White Charcoal can turn tap water into pure mineral water, remove odors from the air, and work as a balancing agent for the body through the food of negative ions it emits. Despite the intensity of the activity taking place within White Charcoal, its surface is hard and beautiful; like a piece of porcelain.
The richness of a resource
White Charcoal is made from wood, and yet it is unlike regular charcoal in every other way. As tradition dictates, the best branches are selected from slow growing hardwood trees in the mountain forests of Japan and Korea. The forests are maintained by craftsmen who harvest from them in such a way that it promotes rapid and fertile regrowth of new branches in a healthy eco-system. The new branches adsorb higher levels of C02 than their predecessors, giving greater benefit to the surrounding environment and providing a plentiful harvest for the craftsmen. Different types of wood are chosen for different jobs; Kishu Binchotan is made from hard Japanese Holm oak, which is a particularly hard type of wood from the mountain areas of Kishu in Japan, whilst Hakutan is Korean oak. Bamboo is used too and juvenile Red Pine needles make an especially gentle quality charcoal that Sort Of Coal uses for our edible Kuro Powder. The natural minerals absorbed by the growing trees are trapped inside the White Charcoal when it is made and later released into drinking water, the air or skin.
The benefits of a byproduct
Thee natural byproducts of White Charcoal production are special. The Char Essence from Sort Of Coal is 100% oak wood vinegar in its purest form, free from any artificial ingredients. It is produced by collecting the condensed steam from the heated wood in the clay kiln, which is then left to mature for six months, before the dark and cloudy liquid is filtered again and again with White Charcoal until it becomes completely clear and achieves the highest level of purity. The second byproduct of this process is the delicious smoky scent that has become a signature (and very particular) scent for Sort Of Coal. Char Essence has been used for medicinal purposes throughout Asia for centuries and is highly valued for its deodorizing and deep cleansing effects, as well as for its delicious skin softening properties. It can be added to drinking water as a purifying ingredient, or to the bath tub for a luxurious spa experience, just as it will help soften and deodorize laundry or work as a powerful cleaning agent. In fact, it is probably the most useful multipurpose wellness and household product imaginable.