Does Bamboo Charcoal Really Improve Indoor Air Quality?
Bamboo charcoal (activated carbon) is sold in a variety of sizes and advertised as a natural means to improve indoor air quality. It is welcomed solution for anyone seeking to have cleaner, deodorized air that has no interest in using toxic “smell good” cover ups. It can be found in small packets that can be used in a car, closet or any other small space or in cubes large enough to supposedly filter a large room. But are they effective? We investigated further to find out.
What is Bamboo Charcoal?
As the name would imply, bamboo charcoal is the end result of burning bamboo, thus making it “activated”. It is a micro-porous, meaning it is a material that contains pores with diameters less than 2 nano-meters. Micro-porous materials have excellent adsorption capabilities.
How is it Manufactured?
Also known as “Black Diamond”, bamboo charcoal is made when bamboo plants are harvested, sliced and sent to be burned. The cut bamboo is placed in ovens or kilns at temperatures ranging from roughly 1472 to 2192°F (800 to 1200 °C). Higher temperatures create more surface area for adsorption, which results in higher quality charcoal. Air is then added into the furnace to combust the remaining tar into charcoal. The bamboo charcoal pieces are left for a few days to allow for cooling. Finally, they are removed and cut into pieces.
Bamboo Charcoal Air Improving Claims:
- Regulates Humidity
- Natural Deodorizer
- Purifies Air
- Emits Far-Infrared Rays
- Emits Negative Ions
Science Behind Each Claim:
- Regulates Humidity: The porous structure of bamboo charcoal makes it a natural dehumidifier. Why? Bamboo charcoal has an negative ionic charge, making it adsorb and hold moisture from the air. After a drop in humidity, the moisture is then released back into the atmosphere.
- Natural Deodorizer: The porous structure of bamboo charcoal provides countless tiny holes that effectively absorb odors, moisture, and polluted air particles. You can do your own experiment on this and within a few days should notice a big difference! Try using using it to deodorize areas near litter trays, in the fridge, footwear, trash cans and even diaper pails.
- Purifies Air: Again, the porous structure of bamboo charcoal is instrumental in removing pollutants from the atmosphere. It adsorbs polluted air particles such as formaldehyde, ammonia, benzene, carbonic oxide, benzopyrene and other components of smog. It also absorbs a portion of contaminants that can trigger allergies and asthma.
- Emits Far-Infrared Rays: Bamboo charcoal/activated carbon emits infrared rays in the range between 2 and 22um (or micrometers). Infrared rays ranging in wavelength from 4 to 50um may improve blood circulation.
- Emits Negative Ions: The air around you is made up of molecules, all of which have an electrical charge, positive or negative. In a world full of products emitting positive ions (such as your TV, computer, and other electronics), it is good to give your air some balance with negative ions. Research has shown air rich in negative ions make us feel better, like near a waterfall, for example. This is because negative ions in the blood stream accelerate the delivery of oxygen to our cells and tissues. Positive ions slow down the delivery of oxygen, producing symptoms markedly like those in anoxia, or oxygen starvation.
Is it Superior to Regular Charcoal?
Regular charcoal is made from normal trees (not bamboo) so it takes decades for the trees to grow back once they are cut down. Bamboo charcoal is made from moso bamboo, a grass that grows to full maturity in 5 years. Regular charcoal production pollutes the air, whereas bamboo charcoal is a carbon neutral process. Bamboo charcoal is more porous (about 10 times), so you need a lot less of it to cover a much larger space.
Is Bamboo Charcoal Safe?
You can use bamboo charcoal around kids and pets with complete ease of mind because charcoal is harmless even if eaten. In fact, many people in Asia take charcoal tablets to deal with stomach ailments, and it’s safe to use on pets. The tablets absorb poisons, allowing gastric toxins to pass through the system without the need to use synthetic medicines.
How to Use and Care for Bamboo Charcoal:
Bamboo charcoal acts by adsorbing pollutants from the air and temporarily storing them until rejuvenation. To rejuvenate, place outside in the sun for an hour once a month. The UV rays release and disintegrate the pollutants. Some of the more serious toxins, such as formaldehyde, can leave a very small amount of residue behind in the pores. This builds up over time, making it less effective at adsorbing particles out of the air. Two years is the approximate lifespan for air filtration.
Life After Air Filtering:
After a couple of years of cleaning air, you can remove the charcoal from the bag and use it as fertilizer and a natural insecticide for your indoor plants, your lawn, or garden. Bamboo charcoal has a high mineral content and is an excellent source of potassium, sodium, calcium, and iron, which it releases when used as a fertilizer. It can also help aerate soil and acts as a moisture regulator in the garden by retaining excess water and releasing it when the soil dries. When the air freshener reaches the end of its useful life, you can remove it from the bag and use it as fertilizer and a natural insecticide for your indoor plants, your lawn, or your garden.
How to Select the Correct Bamboo Charcoal:
Studies conclude that the effective carbonizing temperature is different for each chemical that bamboo charcoal filters. Therefore, a specific charcoal must be selected for each specific use as an adsorbent or deodorant.
The removal of benzene, toluene, indole, skatole, formaldehyde and nonenal were most effective were when the bamboo charcoal carbonized at approximately 1832°F (1000°C) and tended to increase as the carbonizing temperature of the bamboo charcoal increased.
The removal effect for ammonia was the highest on the bamboo charcoal carbonized at 932°F (500°C). It is concluded that the effective carbonizing temperature is different for each chemical, and must be specifically selected for use as an adsorbent or deodorant.
As far as sizing is concerned, according to Moso Naturals, 200g is good for a small space, such as a car or closet, covering up to 90 square feet. 500g size is good for a average sized room, such as bedroom, living area, covering up to 250 square feet.
You can, however, purchase smaller or larger sizes from some manufacturers.
Bamboo charcoal is natural, fragrance-free, allergen-free, and non-toxic. This makes it a great choice for improving indoor air quality, but it must be renewed every month and given a new purpose after a couple of years. Bamboo is a very renewable source, taking only 5 years to reach maturity and does not take away from wildlife like tree harvesting does. It is also much cleaner for the environment and more beneficial than charcoal made from trees.
- Costello, Tina J. “Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes.” (n.d.): n. pag. Azest4Health. The Universe Within Us. Web. 24 Mar. 2017
- Asada, Takashi, Shigehisa Ishihara, Takeshi Yamane, Akemi Toba, Akifumi Yamada, and Kikuo Oikawa. “Science of Bamboo Charcoal: Study on Carbonizing Temparature of Bamboo Charcoal and Removal Capability of Harmful Gases.” Journal of Health Science, 48(6) 473–479 (2002) Science of Bamboo Charcoal: Study on Carbonizing Temperature of Bamboo Charcoal and Removal Capability of Harmful Gases (2002): 473-79. 11 Mar. 2002. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.
- “Magic Power of Bamboo Charcoal/Activated Carbon.” Getek (GE Technlogy Inc) (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.
- Bamboo, Ever. “Why Bamboo Charcoal?” Ever Bamboo. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
- “Bamboo Charcoal Water Filter.” Bamboo Charcoal Water Filter. Miyabi Charcoal.com, 2014. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
- “Microporous Material.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Feb. 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
In what ways have you used bamboo charcoal? What benefits did you experience? Please comment below