Essential Tools

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

May 19, 2017

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.

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.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • thomas falconer
    thomas falconer
  • A M
    A M
  • RK
Sean is a Brooklyn-based writer, photographer and kale apologist who advocates for drinking at lunch. An avid traveler, he is always on the hunt for good coffee and better bread.


thomas F. May 21, 2017
The only way to remove lead from water is with a reverse osmosis system which is very expensive. Typical home filters do not remove lead.
A M. May 21, 2017
It doesn't matter how good the water source in NYC is if the pipes in your building have lead...
thomas F. May 21, 2017
There is absolutely no need for a water filter anywhere in New York City. We have what is rightfully known as the best tasting, cleanest, softest water in the world. Experts like those at consumer reports and others have tested New York City water against filtered and bottled water for years and found it to be far superior. Just a little research will tell you the whole story.
RK May 21, 2017
Any tests done on your water after being with the charcoal? I mean other than just personal taste. It would be interesting to know if the ppm changed or if it added hardness (or even made the water softer). I am looking for an inexpensive solution to a home expresso machine that calls for filtered soft water.