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The Water Filter Solution That Looks Like a Million Bucks—For Just $15

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Any urban dweller can attest: Dividing up chores amongst roommates is a big old chore in and of itself. The same can be said of living with a significant other—if someone isn’t holding up their part of the domestic bliss bargain, what’s a neat freak to do?

That question was top of mind the other week as I tried to find an aesthetic solution to an issue in our Brooklyn home: The cats had pushed our Soma water filter off of the counter, causing it to shatter. Only the handle remained intact. As the provider of said water filtration resource, I took it upon myself to replace the thing.

A month went by. I wasn’t sure where to buy one (complicated!), couldn’t be bothered to simply order one online (expensive!), and didn't really want to set myself up for it breaking again. The solution presented itself readily one day while I was browsing the kind of “sundries” shop certain parts of Brooklyn have become known for—sticks of charcoal from Japan. Why hadn’t I thought of it sooner?

These magical sticks are inexpensive (just $15 for a packet of three, or find them in the Food52 shop), harvested from the Ubame Oak, a tree native to Wakayama, Japan. Each stick lasts for three months. Perhaps not a steal for a fried piece of wood, but it'll solve your filtration woes. It solved mine.

Glass Carafe with Charcoal Filter

Glass Carafe with Charcoal Filter

Water Bottle with Charcoal Filter

Water Bottle with Charcoal Filter


I popped the first one in an Ikea carafe and alerted my housemates: Our water was now filtered. A few weeks in and we all agree it tastes even better than before—and looks like a million bucks, for just fifteen.