A Sort Of Coal: more Danish stuff

While we are talking all things Scandinavian (see Monday’s post) we haven’t quite finished with Denmark. 

Recently the Danish company A Sort Of Coal sent us a very detailed press release on the magical properties of er, sticks. Well White Charcoal sticks to be precise and we were impressed not just by the very interesting story of what white charcoal is, but also how deeply lovely the product looked. Above is a ‘starter pack’ stick of Kinshu Binchotan white charcoal, a beautiful hand blown bottle by Danish glass blowers Fragile and some water that has been purified and had minerals added to it (through the stick). 

It might sound like a load of old tosh, but the Japanese and Koreans have been purifying their water, and improving their health, by using white charcoal for centuries. They are fastidious about its production (it’s a case study in sustainability) and you will find it being eaten, improving the air quality, purifying water and even being used in beauty products. It’s completely fascinating reading about it (more here if you are really interested, including why it’s called ‘white’ when it’s clearly black) but you might  want to skip straight to the bottom line and learn that one stick of Kinshu Binchotan will turn tap water into lovely tasting mineral water in a matter of hours. And being Scandinavian (via Japan) it looks deeply cool while it does it.

The clever thing about this charcoal is that it is able to adsorb (rather than absorb, am I sound a bit like Dr Brian Cox yet?) impurities from the water and bind with them to remove them permanently, holding them in its vast microcavities, one gram of charcoal has a surface area of a tennis court apparently and can remove 75% of the chlorine found in tap water. It works out much cheaper than buying mineral water, and probably turns out a better quality product too. 

You don’t have to by the bottle pack, you can just buy the sticks and pop them in you own containers, and you can also buy sticks to purify your air (nice looking ones too, on the right below) and even sticks to purify other drinks, such as cocktails (see left below). We haven’t tried these, so it could all be bunkum, but I think not, as designer and retailer Tom Dixon stocks it in his Tom Dixon Shop and he’s no idiot, it’s also available at Skandium, La Fromagerie and Milk Concept boutique (and in the US, check here for stockists). You can also buy it on line and find out more about it here.

 The Danish are clearly keen on sticks. I remember writing a small feature on the Happiness Boutique L.U.I.S back in 2008, where a group of students from the Danish School of Design got together and opened a very pretty concept retail store that sold sticks, carefully presented in smart boxes, in order to try and open an intellectual dialogue with visitors on what Happiness was and could it be bought? The sticks sold out completely. 

The Happiness Boutique L.U.I.S, Copenhagen, 2008



  • Jude says:

    This is fascinating, Amanda. I avoid buying bottled water because of the plastic packaging/transport issues, but sometimes tap water can be a bit metallic/-tasting. LOVE the look of the bottle in yr top photo, but its a bit pricey! Might have a dabble with the sticks though.

  • freethequay says:

    wonderful wonderful I love. it when you come up with stuff like this. xxxx

  • Jude says:

    Didn’t the gas masks issued to school-kids during 2nd world war have charcoal in the breathing bit? Maybe I’m imagining it, but something like that rings a bell……

  • Marv says:

    Yes, but how can I get my black-white-blue-green-whatever charcoal’ed water to taste like Badoit? If it’s not Badoit then I’ve got to say I actually like Thames Water tap water in Hackney.

    Charcoal just makes me think of burnt toast, ugh…..

  • Mary says:

    Does the stick double up as kohl liner :)?

  • middleagedad says:

    HaHa! It might well Mary! And Jude charcoal is indeed used in gas masks, I like Thames water too Marv but I think it would be lovely to have some pure tasting stuff too, A

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *