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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.

            1. Thanks everyone for your input!
              Like welle suggested, I had just put it in the refrigerator after I'd bought it, (it's been in there a while)but now it does smell of the refrigerator. Maybe I can boil it out, or leave in out in direct sunlight to renew its properties. Until I've been able to get rid of the smell I will refrain from putting it in water as a filter.

              Brian S, I know for sure mine is not of bamboo, but the picture of the bambo ones sure look nice. I think the one i have might be what Amyzan found as "Binchotan", although mine is a section of a round branch, not like the wiki's picture of a flat piece from chips. It does however have a crisp sound when tapped with a chopstick. That's really a special feature of charcoal I never would have thought to test out.

              Laurendlewis and Rabaja, thanks for the confirmation. I THOUGHT i had heard about it being used for water, but I wasn't sure. Just wonder if it would turn the water a little dark? Also, I don't think of it as "filter" if water isn't forced through it, like my Multipure water filter, nevertheless it's an interesting concept. And I wonder if it made a difference whether the charcoal is of bamboo, of oak, or of other types of wood?