Japanese Charcoal: Best Binchotan Products
What is Japanese charcoal?
Japanese charcoal is also known as binchotan (備長炭) or white charcoal. It is a specific kind of activated charcoal that has a long history in Japan. It has been used for centuries, not only for cleansing but also in cooking. It is considered highest grade of charcoal available.
Where does it come from?
Binchotan refers to Japanese charcoal made using ubame, a specific kind of oak tree. This type of oak is mostly grown in Wakayama Prefecture (sometimes referred to as Kishu) where it has become the official tree of the area. The ubame oak is native to the region and the charcoal is sustainably produced by using trimmed branches in production (rather than logging trees). Wakayama is the main producer of Japanese charcoal, producing more than any other part of the country.
How is Japanese charcoal made?
Branches of oak are burnt at extremely high temperatures in a kiln. As the charcoal burns, it becomes white in color, hence the nickname ‘white charcoal’. The wood is then rapidly cooled. This process carbonizes the wood, leaving tiny pores throughout it. These tiny pores help to trap impurities, making it perfect for cleansing and purifying.
What are the benefits of Japanese charcoal?
Japanese charcoal has many incredible properties. As the charcoal is super absorbent, it draws out impurities. It is therefore used for purifying air, water and many other applications. When used on skin it helps to detoxify, exfoliate, cleanse and moisturize. It is also good for dry skin, acne and redness; making it suitable for oily and sensitive skin.
What products is binchotan used in?
Drugstores all over Japan are filled with charcoal bath and beauty products, which take many forms. It is commonly found in skin care, hair care and dental care products. It is also widely used to filter and purify water and air.
Japanese Charcoal Bath Products
These are just some of the best (and most loved) bath products on the market.
1. Japanese Charcoal Soap
Max Kishu Binchotan Charcoal Soap
Facial bar soaps tend to be more common in Japan than face wash. This particular soap tends to have a bit of a cult following, just check out the glowing reviews. It’s possibly the bestselling Japanese soap on Amazon.
2. Japanese Charcoal Shampoo
Pelican Clay and Charcoal Shampoo
Pelican have been producing soap and hair products for over half a decade. This clay and charcoal shampoo is a non-silicone formula that works to remove sebum and repair damaged hair. It has a mild hinoki (Japanese cypress) fragrance and is ideal for a sensitive scalp.
3. Japanese Charcoal Body Scrub Towel
Morihata Binchotan Activated Charcoal Scrub Towel
This exfoliating towel is infused with binchotan to help draw out impurities and cleanse skin. It can be used daily to gently wash and scrub in the shower or bath. The towel has two sides, one coarser than the other. While Morihata is an American company, they use Japanese sourced binchotan in their products.
4. Japanese Charcoal Facial Cleansing Foam
Realbel Charcoal Facial Cleansing Foam
If you prefer foam instead of soap, this facial cleansing foam is a bestseller in Japan. This facial cleanser removes dull and dry skin, leaving skin looking brighter. It effectively cleanses dirt and makeup from the face, and doesn’t leave skin tight or dry. And the best part; just a little of this product goes a long way, turning into a foamy lather.
5. Japanese Charcoal Toothbrush
Morihata Binchotan Activated Charcoal Toothbrush
And finally, binchotan is also hailed for its teeth cleaning and whitening properties. It is commonly used in toothpaste and toothbrushes too, where the charcoal bristles attract bacteria – rather than just pushing it around. These have a minimalist Japanese design.