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Binchotan de kishu vignette d'authenticité
tbinchotan traditionnel artisanal de Kishu avec sa vignette d'authenticité

Faced with the many "fake Binchotan" that are currently circulating on the Internet as well as in certain stores (even organic), I wanted to make a small memo for the use of consumers who could feel disconcerted in the face of all these products that look like Binchotan, but which are not.

Indeed, the word "binchotan" refers to a traditional Japanese activated charcoal stick made from the Ubamegashi oak tree. As a result, only products made in Japan from this wood can bear the name Binchotan. Ubamegashi is a Japanese oak which has the particularity of being rich in minerals and of sinking in water : as a result, Japanese binchotan restores minerals to the water and remains well immersed at the bottom of the carafe.


There are 3 regions that produce binchotan in Japan  :

- Tosa binchotan, from Koshi prefecture

- Hyuga binchotan, from Miyazaki prefecture

- Kishu Binchotan, from Wakayama prefecture

Among Japanese binchotans, Kishu Binchotan is the most famous and most expensive charcoal in the world. It is this fabulous coal that I market: it is the highest quality coal in the world, with a carbon content of up to 96%, which makes it closer to diamonds than coal.


Despite its very high quality, it remains extremely economical compared to other water purification systems. Indeed, purifying your water with a real Binchotan from Kishu will not cost you more than a few euros per month.

Regardless of the production area, Japanese binchotan charcoal meets strict standards, as this document from the Japanese National Charcoal Association indicates:

Japanese Charcoal Standards


This is how Japanese binchotan:

- must be made from Japanese Ubamegashi oak wood 

- must have a carbon content > 90% 

- must be free of any fertilizer or pesticide

- must be activated without any chemical substance (only with steam)

- must not exceed 10% humidity

- must be made without any deforestation: the Japanese charcoal makers have the obligation to ensure a rotation of the plots so that the tree regenerates. They can wait more than 20 years before exploiting a plot again.

Unfortunately, some other Asian countries are much less careful and less demanding on the method of manufacturing their activated carbon, and today we find on the market "binchotan" manufactured outside Japan (Taiwan, China, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia ...) and from a wood that has nothing to do with the Japanese Ubamegashi. Many unscrupulous sellers use the reputation of genuine Japanese Binchotan to sell products that are made from a different wood than the traditional Japanese Ubamegashi, sometimes under conditions that are disastrous for the environment.

These intensive crops promote deforestation and require fertilizers and pesticides. Charcoal is very often activated with chemical solvents, which makes it possible to produce large quantities of charcoal in a very short time and to improve yields. Conversely, the production of Japanese binchotan is long and demanding. The cooking phase alone lasts 15 days during which the craftsmen have to face extreme heat and take turns day and night in front of the oven. The yield of Japanese binchotan is therefore very low but its quality is superior, which explains why it is sold at a higher price.


It will therefore be necessary to remain vigilant when it comes to the actual origin of the activated carbons that you will find on the market, as well as the way in which they are activated. Indeed, if the Japanese binchotan is activated only with steam, the coals manufactured outside Japan  are activated with sulfuric acid and other chemical solvents. The wood used being different, the water purification capacities and the return of minerals will be different.

Recently, there are also various French activated carbons that are sold as binchotan. Unfortunately, France also activates its coals with chemical solvents.

In order to prevent the fraudulent use of its name and reputation, the Japanese Binchotan of Kishu is the only Japanese Binchotan to be protected by a trademark registration:

Therefore, the Binchotan of Kishu must necessarily be marketed with its certificate of authenticity. It comes in the form of a yellow sticker with a white border, which must imperatively be stuck on the product. This stamp is an official document issued by the Japanese authorities to certify the authenticity of Kishu binchotan.  


The vignette also allows the Binchotan of Kishu to travel by air, since the air transport of coals is normally prohibited in Japan. Only Kishu Binchotan is an exception due to its non-flammability (see here) .   The yellow sticker is therefore currently the only way to authenticate a real Binchotan from Kishu.


The sticker is an official certificate of authenticity issued by a Japanese authority: as such, any reproduction or photocopy of a sticker on a binchotan would have no legal value. Would you buy a luxury handbag or watch with a photocopied certificate of authenticity instead of an original certificate?? The answer is NO, and so is the Binchotan of Kishu.

photocopied certificate does not in any way authenticate a Kishu binchotan. Nothing will prove to you that the binchotan you have purchased is genuine if it does not have its own certificate of authenticity.


Even if the seller shows you pictures of a box of Binchotan, nothing will prove to you that the Binchotan you are buying is indeed from this box. The seller could very well be selling you a product made in another country, and you will have no way of determining the real provenance of the product.

In addition, be aware that reproducing a false yellow sticker on a binchotan constitutes falsification of an official document. Making or using false documents is considered an offence. They are punished by 3 years in prison and a fine of €45,000 (see here).

The origin of my Binchotan can be consulted here .






Coals made in other Asian countries are generally made from less dense and less expensive wood than traditional Japanese Ubamegashi (eucalyptus, lychees, chestnut, etc.), which explains why some coals float. Genuine Japanese Binchotan does not float unless defective.


Some products, which are mostly put up for sale on the sly on sales sites such as Amazon, Ebay, Etsy ... are potentially dangerous (see here): we find in particular barbecue coals which are sold for coals intended for the purification of water. There are also hookah coals or heating coals which are presented as real binchotans intended for the purification of water! These products are dangerous to your health, especially since some barbecue coals contain flammable materials intended to promote their combustion. They should absolutely not be used to purify water.


There are also Chinese, Indonesian or Laotian activated carbons which are sold as "genuine Japanese Binchotan" (including in organic stores), although their composition and manufacturing process are very different and have nothing to do with the traditional Japanese process, which is 100% natural and environmentally friendly.

Indeed, buying a real Japanese Binchotan is also doing something for the planet! Japanese Binchotan is a product produced in very small quantities. It strictly respects the traditional process (rotation of the plots without felling the tree, ban on the use of fertilizers or pesticides, activation of the charcoal with water vapor without any addition of chemical solvents, etc.).


Moreover, buying a real Japanese Binchotan means buying a product that is artisanal and made entirely by hand. It is therefore to support small families or groups of craftsmen, rather than the giants of the industry. The manufacturing process of binchotan charcoal is classified as a Japanese cultural heritage. As such, artisans receive subsidies to help them pass on their know-how to younger generations.

Unfortunately, many unscrupulous sellers try to appropriate the qualities of Japanese Binchotan and do not hesitate to pass off any Asian coal as Japanese Binchotan, even though their quality is very different.

Similarly, some unscrupulous sellers are not afraid to claim that "Japan was contaminated with radiation following the Fukushima nuclear incident", and use this argument to sell activated carbons that are actually made in Laos, China or Indonesia!


These claimsare purely slanderous and unfounded. The production areas of Binchotan in Japan have never been contaminated, as indicated by the surveys carried out by the Japanese authorities over the past 10 years ( see here ). Our binchotans are also tested free from radioactivity, as confirmed by our independent test which is freely available ( see here ). It should also be noted that a zero radioactivity level does not exist due to natural radioactivity. Thus, the levels of radioactivity recorded in the South of Japan are perfectly equivalent to those found in France! ( seehere )

Here is a little "memo" that will help you distinguish real Japanese binchotan from fake:

❌ A Binchotan made outside the Kishu, Tosa and Miyazaki regions of Japancan'tto be a Binchotan.

❌ A Binchotan is made with Japanese Ubamegashi wood. Other varieties of Japanese oak can be used if Ubamegashi runs out. A binchotan made with hemp, eucalyptus, chestnut, mango ... is therefore not a binchotan.

❌Japanese Binchotan is free from radioactivity. Measurements are taken weekly in all prefectures in Japan.

❌ bamboo charcoal is notNevera Binchotan, since the word "Binchotan" refers to the traditional Japanese activated charcoal made from Ubamegashi oak wood

organic Binchotan does not exist, because even if it is made naturally, it is a product that is not labeled.Many sellers mistakenly use the term "organic" to promote products that have nothing to do with Binchotan and are made outside of Japan, with very different woods. The wood used is not Ubamegashi, these products can float. The capacities in terms of water purification and mineral restitution cannot therefore be similar to those of Japanese binchotan.

❌ not all Japanese binchotan can purify water! There are Binchotan that are only used for barbecue, rice cooking, humidity regulation, air purification .... If the raw material used remains the same, the manufacturing method and the cooking time will be different depending on the uses.Some binchotan therefore do not have the necessary properties to properly purify tap water.. Visually, there is nothing to tell the difference between a Binchotan for barbecue or a Binchotan intended for water purification, hence the need to buy a quality binchotan.

❌ Even though it calls itself "white coal", binchotan for water purification is never white. It's just black/silver. When it is cut in half, its edge has a very shiny metallic appearance, a guarantee of its purity and quality. Due to its high carbon content, Binchotan produces a very metallic sound (see the video on the homepage).

❌ Kishu Japanese Binchotan is a registered trademark in Japan. As such, the real Kishu binchotan is sold with an authenticity sticker. This pellet guarantees that Binchotan is produced in the Wakayama region of Japan (the cradle of Binchotan).It is therefore both a guarantee of provenance and quality.. To obtain the vignette, the coal goes before an evaluation commission. Only the purest coals can receive it (90% purity minimum). 

❌ Japanese Binchotan for water purification does not floatever, unless it is faulty.

The Ubamegashi is a very dense and fibrous tree which has the property of sinking. Due to its high carbon content, binchotan for water purification is very heavy and sinks instantly.

Before buying a Binchotan from Kishu, always remember to check:

  • the actual origin of the product:it must be indicated on the packaging or on the website. Be careful, many sellers will tell you that Binchotan is Japanese, but that does not mean that it is produced in Japan. It is necessary to distinguish the commercial names from the real origin. It really has to be on the label and you really have to decipher that label to find the provenance.


  • The presence of a yellow circular labelauthentic  pasted on each product (for Kishu binchotan only):this label guarantees you a Binchotan produced by hand in the Kishu region according to the ancestral Japanese process. It is issued after careful inspection, and guarantees both the origin of the product and its quality. Indeed, it is issued only to Binchotan whose carbon rate is greater than 90%.Attention: products delivered by boat cannot benefit from this yellow sticker. So you will have no way to check if the product is genuine or not. 


The reproduction of a yellow sticker has no legal value, since this sticker is an official document issued by a Japanese authority. Any copy of the original label constitutes a counterfeit of an official document.

I hope this article will allow you to see it more clearly.

See you soon,


The True Binchotan






















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