Bamboo has become popular with environmentally conscious consumers because it is one of the most sustainable resources available. When harvested responsibly, bamboo can renew itself for generations without synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.
While extensively used for centuries in the East, it is only recently that Bamboo has been recognised all over the world as an eco-crop and an environmentally friendly alternative to cotton, wood, plastic etc. thanks to his amazing versatility and strength (a cable of plated bamboo as almost the same strength of a steel cable!).
Whereas most crops – including cotton – require fertilizers or herbicides to continue to grow profitably and resist to diseases, Bamboo is naturally strong and can grow completely free of any chemical additive. This will also allow the soil to stay healthy and won’t damage the first layers of fertile topsoil, like most crops do.
It’s one of the most welcome attributes of bamboo when we know that erosion, compaction, nutrient imbalance, pollution, acidification, water logging, loss of soil biodiversity and increasing salinity have been affecting soil across the globe, reducing its ability to support plant life and so grow crops. (Why soil is disappearing from farms, by Richard Gray). Bamboo actually helps rebuilt eroded soil, requires far less water, absorbs 5 times more carbon dioxide and produces 35% more oxygen than similar crops.
Moreover, when managed sustainably, Bamboo will regrow after being cut, regenerating from its own stalks. This means that Bamboo will not need to take new portions of land every year to continue to provide high yields, leaving poor quality soil behind. On the contrary, Bamboo crops can be contained and will continue to grow for years on the same land when properly harvested.
Bamboo charcoal is an environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible ingredient. It is 100% natural and safe to use around pets and children.
ARE ALL BAMBOO THE SAME?
Bamboo certainly has all the amazing qualities listed above and it’s the perfect candidate to provide environmentally friendly products but there is also a catch.
Bamboo is also 99% of Giant Pandas diet, and with its very little nutritional value, they need to eat approximately 25-40kg per day to meet their energy needs! They eat different parts of bamboo according to seasons (shoots in spring and summer, leaves in autumn and roots in winter) and they prefer eating arrow bamboo, black bamboo, and 'water bamboo', along with about 20 other minor species.
If bamboo is not sourced sustainably, using bamboo products can actually be bad for Pandas and deprive them of their only source of food.
Unfortunately, not all manufacturers openly display where the bamboo their products are made of came from, what type of bamboo was used and if it was harvested responsibly.
This means that something that seems so much more sustainable than its plastic alternative could instead still create huge problems, environmentally speaking, and ultimately contribute to giant pandas extinction (according to the WWF, there are only 1,864 Pandas left in the wild).
So this is why it’s important that when buying Bamboo products, we make sure that it’s responsibly sourced and one of the most important things is to check that they are made of Moso Bamboo, which is a temperate species of giant timber bamboo native to China: Pandas don’t eat Moso Bamboo so at least we are sure we are not taking away any of their food source.
Even more attention has to be put when buying clothes made out of bamboo fabric as, to reduce down a strong and solid piece of bamboo to soft fabric, it has to go through an intense chemical process involving harsh chemicals such as sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide.
And these chemicals are highly toxic and a risk to human health: they will end up being in contact with your skin and most of the times will be released into local streams due to uncontrolled waste management (50% of the hazardous waste created in the process cannot be recaptured and reused).
WHAT IS BAMBOO CHARCOAL?
Bamboo charcoal is made up of pieces of Moso bamboo. When the bamboo reaches the age of five, it is harvested and cut into pieces. These pieces undergo a firing process at temperatures of approximately 1,000 degrees Celsius to create the bamboo charcoal.
As the bamboo matures, and grows up to 10-12 meters, millions of tiny holes or pores form in the stalks. These tiny holes increase the surface area of the bamboo.
As a result, a single gram of bamboo charcoal has as much as 600 square meters of surface area. To give you a better idea: one teaspoon of grinded bamboo charcoal has the surface area of a football field!
While activated wood charcoal has similar properties, activated bamboo charcoal is four times more porous than regular wood charcoal, which greatly increases its effectiveness to eliminate impurities and neutralize odours.
Wood charcoal also comes from “mixed woods. Since we do not know the composition of mixed wood charcoal, it becomes virtually impossible to answer questions like, "where did the wood came from?" "was it harvested sustainably?" or "was it sprayed with pesticides?" etc.
WHAT IS ACTIVATED BAMBOO CHARCOAL?
To “activate” the bamboo charcoal, it is grounded into a powder and injected with steam (no other chemicals are involved). This process eliminates any molecules that were already absorbed, thereby enhancing both the absorption and the adsorption abilities of the resultant Activated Charcoal.
This means that the powder is able to adsorb (with a D!) a greater volume of bacteria, toxins, and micro-particles. While regular bamboo charcoal and activated charcoal have the same adsorption abilities, activated carbon has a tighter hold on the substances it adsorbs.
ADSORPTION vs ABSORPTION
When reading about charcoal, you will often see the word "adsorption."
Adsorption is a process in which the toxins or chemicals attach or adhere to the surface of a material. The adsorbed materials remain attached to the adsorbent’s surface.
Activated charcoal adsorbs toxins, acting like a magnet that draws impurities to the surface.
Absorption, on the contrary, is the process in which the toxins or chemicals would actually become part of the material--like a sponge absorbs water or like your skin absorbs a topical cream applied to a cut. The absorbed materials remain in the absorbent without having any chemical interactions with it.
The first recorded use of medicinal charcoal comes from an Egyptian medical’s papyri written around 1500 BC when ancient Egyptians used charcoal to adsorb wound odour.
Today bamboo charcoal is still used to:
- Purify hair: it removes smells from a room by absorbing it, instead of masking it, (it works great with tobacco, pet and cooking odours) and it can also adjust to the air around to wither dry the air or release more humid air.
- Purify water: thanks to its porous nature, it can absorb chemicals and pollutants but also release its healthy minerals (such as calcium and iron), making tap water much healthier and tastier.
- Deodorize and freshen objects, such as shoes or clothes, by absorbing smells and odours.
- Make plants healthier, by absorbing bad particle matters and releasing healthy minerals.
- Make steamed rice taste better, by absorbing the pesticides often used in the growing process.
- Treat overdose and poisoning.
- Treat infections and detoxify the skin.
HOW BAMBOO CHARCOAL WORKS IN SKIN CARE
Although the internet is jam-packed with loads of information about the benefits of activated charcoal, there have been no scientific studies conducted concerning the efficacy of activated charcoal in skincare.
As with much of the information written about skin care, the evidence is anecdotal. Anecdotal evidence comes from actual life experiences and is not regarded as scientific evidence.
Keeping this in mind, below are some of the properties of charcoal in skin care.
Because of its natural ability to draw out dirt and debris from deep inside pores, activated bamboo charcoal has become a key ingredient in many skincare products. Activated charcoal . . .
- adsorbs impurities due to its super-porous structure--one teaspoon has the surface area of a football field
- has millions of pores to trap and store pollutants, impurities and other harmful substances so they can be washed away
- naturally deep cleans and gently exfoliates to remove dead skin cells without drying skin (try our Bamboo Charcoal soap)
- works especially well to deep clean oily, combination and blemish-prone skin types
- can help ease acne; depending on the severity and type of acne, activated charcoal may offer some relief
- has antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties making it a great choice for acne-prone skin
- when used in a face mask activated charcoal helps remove the oil and dirt from pores that make them appear larger--so pores will appear smaller.
- is gentle enough for all skin types