What is bamboo charcoal

Bamboo charcoal is charcoal made from bamboo plants.  To best understand what bamboo charcoal is and its amazing benefits, it helps to have a good understanding of charcoal.
 
Most people think of charcoal as a fuel for barbecue grills, but grilling is just one of the many ways that charcoal can be used.  Charcoal is created by a special heating process that removes non-carbon material from animal or plant matter.  This is done by heating a kiln full of material to a certain temperature and then cutting off the oxygen supply.  The water and volatile organic compounds are removed from the material, leaving mostly carbon.  This carbon, or charcoal, that is left has been turned into something with some amazing properties.
 
Charcoal burns hotter and longer than ordinary wood, which is why charcoal briquettes are so popular for grilling.  Different forms of charcoal are also used or were used in the past for making gunpowder, smelting metals, water purification, and treating illnesses of all types.   
 
But what really makes charcoal so amazing is that the process of carbonization creates a product with an enormous surface area to mass ratio and the ability to attract and hold (adsorption) a wide range of chemicals, minerals, radio waves, and other harmful substances.  1 gram of bamboo charcoal has up to 600 square meters of surface area!
 
What makes this quality possible is the unique chemical composition of carbonized wood in general and bamboo in particular.  Creating charcoal from wood changes the chemical structure of the carbon molecules in a way that creates a new type of molecule.  This new molecule is known as C60.  In a spherical form, this molecule has since been given the names buckyball and buckminsterfullerenes.  The discovery of these molecules in 1985 has formed the basis for the current innovations in nanotechnology and also help to explain how bamboo charcoal gets its amazing qualities.
 
Buckminsterfullerene C60 - Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Buckminsterfullerene C60 - Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Buckminsterfullerene C60
Photograph Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
 
What is the Difference between Bamboo Charcoal and Activated Bamboo Charcoal?
 
We already know that bamboo charcoal can have a surface area to mass ratio of up to 600 to 1.  But Borim has patented a process that can take these even higher – double to up to 1,200 square meters of surface area per 1 gram of bamboo charcoal!  They do this by “activating” the bamboo charcoal, which consists of granulating the bamboo charcoal stalks into powder form and injecting it with steam.  The exact process by which this occurs is a closely guarded secret, and the process in patented in South Korea.
 
So when we talk about “bamboo charcoal” we are referring to un-activated bamboo charcoal – these are the decorative stalks that have a multitude of household uses.  Normal bamboo charcoal has the same ability to absorb chemicals and substances from the air and water, it just not have quite the holding capacity as “activated bamboo charcoal.”
 
Activated bamboo charcoal is used in most of our products – from our soaps and bath powders, to the multipurpose pouches and the pillows and cushions. 
 
Adsorption vs. Absorption
One of the most powerful characteristics of bamboo charcoal and activated bamboo charcoal is its ability to adsorb a very wide range of organic and inorganic substances from its environment.  The process of adsorbing something is different from absorbing something, so we’ll explain that here.  But for simplicity sake, we’ll use the word “absorb” throughout the site because it is more commonly understood.
 
According to Wikipedia, adsorption is the process that occurs when a gas or liquid accumulates on the surface of another solid or a liquid.  When one substance adsorbs another, it is actually attracting that substance to it, and that substance clings to its surface.  A good example to think of is electrostatically charged dusters, which attract dust particles to their surface.  The dust particles are attracted to and stick to the surface of the duster.
 
Absorption is more commonly understood and is the process of one gas or liquid diffuses into a solid or liquid.  A good example is using a towel to dry off – the water molecules are temporarily diffused into the material of the towel.  Note that there is no natural physical attraction here, the towel just naturally soaks up the water and the water will be desorbed (the opposite of absorbed) as it dries.  
 
This natural attraction and adsorption quality (by way of the van der Waals force), along with its amazing surface area to mass ratio, is what makes bamboo charcoal so fantastic.  The millions of tiny spaces in a piece of bamboo charcoal will almost magically attract elements to its surface.  And because there are so many little spaces for those elements to go into, one piece of bamboo charcoal can attract and retain a much higher volume of harmful substances than you can imagine!

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