The charcoal used in Japan is called Binchotan. One of the main reasons why most people like to use Binchotan charcoal is because of its efficiency and the heat it produces. One remarkable thing about Binchotan is that it can burn for about 4 to 6 hours, and once it is extinguished, you can reuse it for up to 3 hours. However, this depends on how it is used. Binchotan is a type of charcoal with an unearthly high carbon percentage, which makes for an almost pure composition. And that is what you taste. Binchotan is made in a wonderful traditional way, in kilns made of stone and clay. Burning this charcoal requires such great expertise that there is a separate profession for it: Binchotan burner. Unfortunately, this trade is disappearing. Few young people of the new generation are interested in it, which is very disappointing, because it is truly one of the most valuable things from traditional Japanese culture. Making Binchotan to Japanese quality standards is therefore very difficult but certainly not impossible. Above all, it takes a very long time. One cycle of making about four hundred kilos of Binchotan takes fifteen days. This cycle starts, of course, with collecting the wood and ends with packing the boxes. Here is a small overview of what happens in between. First, the collected wood is carefully placed in the oven and heated at around 200 °C for around ten days with a minimum supply of oxygen. This minimum supply of oxygen ensures that the wood does not burn but decomposes. Because so little oxygen is supplied, an almost completely pure carbon composition is formed. When the smoke coming from the kiln is just the right colour, the wood has decomposed and the oxygen supply is increased. The furnace reaches a temperature of no less than 1000 °C. This stops when the charcoal gets a red glow. The final step is to roll the charcoal in ash and sand, which gives it its characteristic grey glow. After all, it is not called white Binchotan for nothing.
And so you have Binchotan, with a magnificent carbon percentage of no less than 95.9%. Binchotan produces no smoke, does not spatter and burns at a constant temperature. Compared to Marabu charcoal, it burns quieter and neater. There are different types of Binchotan. Here are the differences:
- Binchotan Eucalyptus has a carbon percentage of 95.9%. The charcoal bed can reach a temperature of 870 to 1000 °C. The total burning time is 4 hours on average. No chemicals are added during the traditional production process. As a result, there will be no smoke or flavour. The ash quantity is about 1.8%.
- Binchotan Maitew has a carbon percentage of 96-98%. The charcoal bed can reach a temperature of 1000 to 1200°C. The total burning time is on average 6 hours. No chemicals are added during the traditional production process. Because of this, there will be no smoke or taste. The ash quantity is approximately 1.5%.
- Binchotan Konia has a carbon percentage of 96-98%. The charcoal bed can reach a temperature of 1000 to 1100°C. The total burning time is on average 5 hours. No chemicals are added during the traditional production process. Therefore, there will be no smoke or taste. The ash content is about 1.5%.
- Binchotan Lychee has a carbon percentage of 95.9%. The charcoal bed can reach a temperature of 870 to 1000°C. The total burning time is 4.5 hours on average. During the traditional production process, no chemicals are added. As a result, there will be no smoke or flavour. The ash quantity is approximately 1.8%.
People who care about the environment like this kind of charcoal briquettes. This is because the ingredients remain unused unless you use them. These charcoal briquettes are in fact made from sawdust. This provides a great taste sensation because of all the different kinds of wood flavours that run through your body, and it is also ecological. Barbecue shame does not matter here at all. Start your fire and get barbecuing!
How do you light Binchota in the Shichirin?
- Use a gas burner, which takes about 15 minutes.
- Or first make a burning bed of softer charcoal, such as Acacia charcoal.
- Place the Binchotan coals diagonally on the charcoal bed and let them burn.
Instead of Binchotan, you can also use koko-quick grill bricks to light the Shichrin. The briquettes are made from natural materials and ensure that your Shichirin is ready for use within minutes. The lighter fluid is already included so there is no need to use firelighters. One grill brick provides one hour of cooking pleasure. The grill bricks are individually packed air- and watertight in a box of four and are therefore easy to carry.
Binchotan can also be used for other table barbecues. Once you have tried these coals, you will not want to do without them. The quality is unbelievable.
Binchotan charcoal also works perfectly as a water filter. For this, you need a dust-free Binchotan piece in water. Binchotan charcoal has an incredibly porous surface with small cavities running in many directions. Just 1 gram has an area of more than 500 m2 (about one tenth the size of a football field). Binchotan charcoal is also known as 'active carbon': the ions of pollutants are attracted to the surface of the carbon, where they are retained. Binchotan charcoal can also release minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium into water, enhancing its taste and health benefits. If you fill up Binchotan once a day, it will last for three months. You can then 'recharge' your Binchotan by boiling it in water for ten minutes and drying it in the sunlight. After this you can use Binchotan for another three months. When you have finished using Binchotan as a water filter, you can use it for other purposes as well. If you break it up into pieces and place it in your houseplants, it adds nutrients to the soil that will help the plant grow. Because of its porous surface, it can also be used as a deodoriser to remove unwanted smells in your litter box, laundry basket, clothes or shoes. Binchotan is also an effective moisture absorber, and can help absorb moisture from the air when placed in a wardrobe. Sometimes you will see small particles/fragments of the charcoal in the water. It is not a problem if you swallow this; active charcoal tablets are prescribed to treat diarrhoea, digestion and flatulence.