Zero Waste Water Filter

I have written about how I filter my tap water before…. but that post has fallen into the dusty archives of this blog, unlikely to be seen by many (especially as the search bar seems to have stopped working – must fix!), so I thought it would be worth sharing again. If you live in London, then you’ll know that the tap water (or Thames’ Finest as I like to call it!) has a distinct flatness to it with a delicate tang of chlorine. Mmmmmmmm.

Not wanting to purchase a Brita water filter (plastic!), or bottled water (more plastic!), four years ago, when I started moving towards a zero waste lifestyle, I started using activated charcoal pieces and found a UK based company called The Charcoal People. They source their charcoal from Japan where experienced charcoal makers use clay kilns to activate the bamboo pieces.

Thanks to its porous structure, the charcoal adsorbs / filters out impurities such as chlorine, heavy metals, pesticides, surfactants and hormone-disruptors whilst mineralising the water with potassium and magnesium etc. In fact, according to their site, 1g of high quality bamboo charcoal has a surface area equivalent of up to 3 tennis courts, thanks to the vast number of cavities – blows my mind! This article explains neatly how it works.

They deliver loose charcoal squares of the activated bamboo, wrapped simply in some tissue paper, inside a cardboard box – even the sticky tape is made from paper and can be recycled.

I’ve recently seen a lot of bamboo charcoal sticks for sale that have been packed in single-use plastic, so I’m delighted that The Charcoal People offer an easy zero waste water filter option.

You choose the number of pieces you need (approx. 3-4 for a 1 litre jug and 6-8 for 2 litres – I tend to buy about 24 at a time) and I also like that the box has a small chart on the inside, reminding me when to change out the charcoal.

To use, simply boil the charcoal pieces in water for 10 minutes, then let cool and dry before use.  Add to tap water for 8 hours before drinking, I let mine sit in a large glass jar* overnight. The taste is noticeably softer and the texture of the water seems smoother.

I accidentally broke our glass water jug last year so I’ve been using this 2 litre clip top jar instead. You can find a similar one here*.

The charcoal needs to be “re-activated” once a week – simply by boiling in a pan again for 10 mins and allowing to dry – and will last around 2 months. At the end of their life as water filters, they can be used to remove odours in shoes, the fridge, fruit bowl… basically wherever there’s a curious stank. Finally, they can be returned to the soil or added to a plant pot to biodegrade.





  1. 7th February 2018 / 6:05 pm

    Interesting! I never knew charcoal could be used in this way! Thanks for the info

  2. 7th February 2018 / 7:06 pm

    This is a great tip! Will have to try this, our water is so chlorinated, I especially notice it in the summer, I really couldn’t think of a plastic free solution! Thanks

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