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What is this black charcoal stick for ? Tea?

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I don't read enough Japanese to understand the description for this package of two sticks of charcoal still in the somewhat irregular shape of a burnt stick but with both ends cut off so it looks like an oversized black chalk stick. It seems from the few Chinese characters in the instruction that it's for eliminating odor in the kitchen, or refrigerator.

Handling the stick leaves my hands black. I remember back in another thread about tea someone mentioned using a carbon stick for the water. I can't imagine it would be something like this, then. My water filter is a solid piece of Carbon, but of course it's encased in a stainless steel casing.

Anyhow, does anyone know what this is, and how it's usually used?

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  1. I've seen fridge odor eliminators with charcoal in them.

    1. I wonder if it's bamboo charcoal aka takesumi. This finds many uses in Japan, e.g. heating incense for Kodo ceremony, but is indeed used to eliminate refrigerator odor.

      see http://www.can.com.sg/neocan/en/stree...

      photo of it: http://www.sagasubanta.com/sagayoyo/y...

      Kodo ceremony: http://www.essenceoftheages.com/info/...

        1. I saw an article in a paper recently (either NYT or WSJ) about charcoal-filtered water and how it's the latest thing. They had a photo with either a pitcher or a retail container of water with similar looking 'charcoal sticks' in it.

          1. I do believe it's a filter for your water. There's a place here in SF that sells them. To activate (or revive?) place in gently simmering water briefly then add it to your pitcher of drinking water. Continue to add tap water to pitcher as needed and keep the whole thing in your fridge with the charcoal in it. Seems to me you're supposed to boil it again from time to time.