Review: Miyabi Charcoal - Can it Really Filter Water?

Friday, February 10, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
For the longest time now, I've wanted a stainless steel water bottle. And guess what? I finally got one. The only problem? It doesn't come with a filter. To me, that's a big deal: I really believe every reusable water bottle should have a filter. Why? Because: Tap water is not always clean, despite being 'purified' by water treatment facilities. It can contain toxins like pesticides, pharmaceuticals and heavy metals, despite being 'treated'. That's where Miyabi Charcoal comes in: I found this genius company on Twitter and couldn't be more excited.
Miyabi Charcoal sells  bamboo charcoal, a natural, zero waste alternative to man-made filters. They can be added to any size container and used to purify the water inside it. Miyabi Charcoal sells two different kinds of bamboo charcoal too: Regular sized pieces (for pitchers) and skinny sized pieces (for small-mouthed containers - like my stainless steel water bottle). Depending on the amount of bamboo charcoal you get, just a few pieces can last you anywhere from 3 months to a year! The best part is when their time is up, you can plant them in your garden's soil (or in my case, my potted plant's soil) and they will decompose. They actually add valuable nutrients to the soil, so there's no waste left! Can't say the same for traditional filters (which are usually made from plastic).
Obviously, I was really intrigued with this product and wanted to know more. Did it really work? Would I finally be able to filter my water no matter where I was? Immediately, I reached out to the primary founder of Miyabi Charcoal, Ramona Bajema, to see if she'd be willing to let me try a few samples. To my delight, she said yes! Now, just so you know, I also did my research. Apparently, it's a scientific fact that charcoal has purifying properties: It's able to absorb toxins and impurities in a similar way a man-made filter can. In fact, it even replaces those impurities with good-for-you minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium.
So if science says it works, I figured there was only one thing left to do: Try it for myself. Want to see what I thought? Keep reading.

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The Basics
Believe it or not, there are many different brands that sell charcoal (as a water filter). However, Miyabi Charcoal is extra unique: It's made from bamboo charcoal. Bamboo charcoal has several health benefits: That's because it removes chemicals like chlorine, kills bacteria, and even alkalizes water. Bamboo charcoal is also great for the environment. After all, bamboo is a sustainable resource that grows quite fast. Miyabi works directly with bamboo charcoal producers from Japan who cut and split the bamboo by hand. When the bamboo is ready, they place it in a kiln and carbonized it at 800 degrees Celsius, turning it into charcoal. Once it's charcoal, it can then be used to filter water. But it doesn't stop there: Miyabi Charcoal is dedicated to being as wasteless as possible, so guess what? You can toss used bamboo into compost or gardens. It will actually give the soil nutrients and promote healthy plants. How cool is that? You can learn more about how bamboo charcoal is made in-detail here. If that's not impressive enough for you, think about this: Ramona sent me these bamboo charcoal samples in a recycled envelope. Her company is so zero-waste that she looks to reuse everything she possibly can. That, to me, really shows how earth-conscious Ramona, and her company, truly are. Every chance they get, they make sure that nothing is wasted. It's the perfect company for anyone living a zero-waste lifestyle (or attempting to - AKA me). It's also important to note that Miyabi Charcoal sends their product out in 100% recycled packaging all the time (not just to me).  
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Skinny Filters 


Why you want it: This is perfect for those who have reusable water bottles without built-in-filters (like me), but it's also a great all-natural alternative to man-made filters.

Its value: $20-35 (depends on how long you want your supply to last - 3 months or 6 months)
My review: I received two different types of Miyabi Charcoal: 3 pieces of regular bamboo charcoal, and 4 pieces of skinny bamboo charcoal (pictured above). The regular set is for pitchers, while the skinny set is for cups/canteens (AKA my stainless steel water bottle). Each set will last me a month. Obviously, I was super excited to give the skinny bamboo charcoal a try. I wanted to see if they really worked so I could finally have tasty, filtered water wherever I went. I didn't want to worry about drinking unneeded chemicals along with my water. So, immediately I tested the skinny set out. The only problem was the instructions on the skinny set were the same as the regular set: Both said to add activated bamboo charcoal to one liter (4 cups) of water. Obviously, my stainless steel water bottle isn't one liter (it's more like 1 cup and a half). So, instead of following the instructions step by step, I adjusted them (just a tad bit). First, I rinsed off all 4 pieces of my skinny bamboo charcoal set. Then, I boiled them for 5 minutes (this activates the charcoal). It's important to note that I waited for the water to start boiling before I added the bamboo charcoal. Then, after taking them out of the boiling hot water, I let them dry on my windowsill (in the sun). This took a few minutes (probably 10, if I had to give an estimate). Then, I simply plopped them into my stainless steel water bottle and filled it up with tap water (instead of adding them to a liter of water). The first time I attempted this, I kind of did something silly. I let the water sit out for an hour - on my counter. I don't know why I did this. I was testing out the regular bamboo charcoal set at the same time and made the same mistake with that one too. Suffice it to say, when the hour was up, the water tasted warm and gross. I personally hate warm water, so I really don't know what possessed me to think this was a good idea. None the less, I repeated all the same steps again (minus re-boiling the charcoal, which only needs to be done once), this time letting it sit in the fridge for a full hour. Lets just say this method worked a lot better. I've been doing this several times too (I started using the bamboo charcoal on February 2nd after all, so it's been about a week). Sometimes I'll even let it sit overnight, or for several hours before I go out. Let me just say this: It tastes fantastic. Even better than Brita filter water. And I'll tell you why: Minerals. Minerals naturally diffuse from the bamboo charcoal and go into the water, making it taste so delicious and so crisp. I can just barely describe it. All I know is it's the best darn water I've ever tasted (and trust me, I've tasted many different kinds). Most people say water doesn't have a taste, but when you compare this to tap and Brita water, you taste the difference alright. Not only that, but my stainless steel water bottle no longer tastes funky after day-in day-out use. I guess that's because bamboo charcoal not only filters out toxins, but also kills bacteria too (and not the good kind, the bad). Also, I don't have to worry about re-activating the charcoal either: I just refill the reusable water bottle when it's empty and leave the charcoal in there. So easy. I'm definitely going to continue drinking this water, so I can happily recommend it to everyone I know.

Ingredients
Bamboo Charcoal (Yes, that's really it).

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Regular Filters 
Why you want it: This is great for pitchers with no built-in filter systems and makes the water taste super crisp and refreshing!

Its value: $16 - $49 (depends on how long you want your supply to last - you can choose anywhere from 3 months to a year's supply).
My review: I received 3 pieces of regular bamboo charcoal, which will last me about a month. With that said, I was kind of clumsy and broke one of the pieces in the regular set (so now I only have 2 pieces). Regardless, I wasn't wasteful with it. I immediately put the broken piece into my potted plant's soil to enrich it. Miyabi Charcoal encourages costumers to do this when the bamboo charcoal is completely finished, as the charcoal will add nutrients to the soil. Cool right? That unfortunate accident aside, I still use the other 2 regular pieces. Following the directions, I rinsed the remaining 2 pieces of bamboo charcoal off and boiled them for 5 minutes. I left them to dry by the windowsill (in the sun), and then added them to one liter (4 cups) of water. I had filled up a pitcher to do this for the regular sized bamboo charcoal. Then, I let it stand in the fridge for an hour before taking my first sip. Upon my first try, I wasn't too impressed (probably because I let the water sit out instead of putting it in the fridge - silly me). I personally cannot stand lukewarm water, so I have no idea why I did this. However, I've tried it several more time since then and have been very impressed with the results. Sometimes I'll let it stand in the fridge for more than an hour: My favorite is when I leave it in overnight. The water tastes absolutely 100 percent pure. It tastes so crisp and delicious. I know this is going to sound weird, but I can actually taste the hint of minerals being emitted from the charcoal too. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised though: Charcoal not only absorbs pollutants but also releases over 300 types of micro-organic minerals essential to good health (score)! I'm sure the water would taste even better with the 3rd piece of charcoal in it (if I hadn't broken it), but the 2 pieces have been doing just fine for me. In fact, my whole family (my mom and my dad) love the water too! We now have a Brita Pitcher and a Bamboo Charcoal Pitcher in the fridge and I cannot believe how quickly everyone reaches for the Bamboo Charcoal one. In many ways, it makes the water taste better than the Brita! The coolest part is that I never need to re-activate the charcoal by re-boiling it either. Doing so would only sterilize the charcoal (which is not what you want). All I have to do is add more water to the pitcher (with the bamboo charcoal at the bottom) once the pitcher is empty. I'm going to be really sad once the month is up and the bamboo charcoal no longer purifies my water, but I certainly know where to get more!
Ingredients
Bamboo Charcoal (Yes, that's really it).
  
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The (quick) rundown


The pros: The pros heavily outweigh the cons.
  1. I really loved communicating with Ramona Bajema, who gave me the samples in the first place. She was so friendly and accommodating: She was quick to answer I had any questions I had!
  2. I love how Ramona sent the bamboo charcoal in recycled packaging and a recycled envelope: She's truly an earth-conscious person, and that's so admirable to me.
  3. I haven't finished using all the products yet - each set should last about a month!
  4. I adore how it's only made from one ingredient - bamboo charcoal - which makes it all-natural and biodegradable (you can add it to your garden afterwards and it will add nutrients to the soil)!
  5. The instructions are easy to follow and are included right on the packaging and website (even if I had to adjust them a little for my reusable water bottle).
  6. Using this seriously minimizes the amount of waste I put into the environment (the packaging is completely recyclable too - it's made out of plants!).
  7. My family loved the bamboo charcoal just as much as I did, so it helped to get a second and third opinion on the overall taste of the water.
  8. There are so many health benefits to drinking this sort of mineral-infused water: It's cleansing and detoxifying to the body!
  9. This bamboo charcoal really works: It filters out all the bad (chemicals, bad bacteria, etc.) and tastes delicious doing it!

The cons: The cons are ridiculously low (and my own doing).
  1. The first time I used it, one of the pieces fell and broke (more my own fault for being clumsy, but the bamboo charcoal is very fragile).
  2. The first time I tried it, I didn't taste much of a difference. Granted, I left the water out on the counter where it got warm (and I hate warm water, so why on earth did I think that would work?).
Conclusion: I really recommend Miyabi Charcoal. If you already have an at-home filtration system, that's fine, but you seriously need this in your reusable water bottle. There are lots of eco-friendly reusable water bottles to choose from: I recommend getting a glass, aluminum, or stainless steel one. These often don't come with filters anyway, so you could easily add Miyabi Charcoal to them. It's a great investment and will (overall) cost way less than buying water bottles. After all, one 24-pack of Poland Spring bottled water usually costs around $15 and is good for only 24 uses. Buying a reusable water bottle is a one-time purchase only, and a 3-month supply of (skinny) Miyabi Charcoal is worth just $20. Think about that. $15 for 24 single-use water bottles, $20 for a 3 month-supply of Miyabi Charcoal. Only a $5 difference, and one will last you way longer than the other. Lets say you drank one bottle of that Poland Spring water per day: It would only last you 24 days, whereas one purchase from Miyabi Charcoal's 3 month supply would last approximately 90 days. So tell me: Which is the better deal? For the sake of your health (and your wallet), choose Miyabi. I certainly have.

This post was sponsored by Miyabi Charcoal. All thoughts remain honest and not influenced by a third party.




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