Our Story

How did you discover Kishu?

Years ago, our founder Judith Bershof — a passionate water drinker and lifelong environmentalist — was tired of throwing away her water pitcher’s plastic filter every few months. Fed up, she resolved to never again buy a plastic filter. Instead, she would find a new, more earth-friendly way to filter her tap water. So she asked herself, “What’s inside the plastic casing that actually does the filtering?” After some research she learned the answer: activated charcoal, which the Japanese have used for thousands of years to purify their drinking water.

Judith then contacted artisans in Japan who specialize in activated charcoal. These artisans follow a centuries-old method: oak branches are sustainably harvested and then fired in handmade outdoor ovens; after many days of continuous, closely monitored carbonization to over 1000 degrees, the branches transform into a hard, glass-like material — activated charcoal.

The artisans began shipping it to her in Denver, Colorado, and with that Kishu Charcoal was born!


Kishu Charcoal was born in 2011 as an alternative to plastic water filters. Determined to find an eco-friendly, plastic-free way to filter tap water, we came across a material used in Japan for thousands of years. Made by artisans, using traditional methods and handmade kilns, Kishu Charcoal is brought to life from sustainably harvested oak branches slowly carbonized to 1000 degrees. After a number of days, a beautiful and glass-like activated charcoal emerges.

Kishu Charcoal is…

…the only completely plastic-free water filter.
…made from the finest Japanese activated charcoal.
…individually hand cut — every stick is different.
…produces the most delicious tasting tap water.
…green and COOL!

100% Green

We are very proud that Kishu Charcoal is a green water filter product. From its production (100% natural oak branches) to its packaging (recycled paper stock and compostable clear sleeve made from wood pulp), not to mention its many secondary uses, we have done our very best to make Kishu Charcoal an environmentally conscientious product.




The Only Completely Plastic-Free Water Filter