by Noah Armstrong
Founded by Pernille Lembcke and Louise Vilsgaard, Danish brand Sort of Coal focuses on bringing the natural purification power of white charcoal to Western culture with a range of handmade products intended to purify the air without attacking the senses or pollute the environment.
Used as a natural purification agent in Japan and Korea for generations, white charcoal's natural toxin absorbing qualities cleanse the air of odors, pollution and unwanted moisture.
Activated by heating pieces of oak and bamboo in oxygen depleted kilns over a seven-day period, the uniformly black pieces of coal retain the natural beauty of their original wood forms, but unlike common charcoal, white charcoal leaves no dust or residue and sucks up nastiness like a sponge.
Depending on its size, its purification qualities can be reactivated through exposure to scalding water or direct sunlight for a few months up to a few years.
Sticks of of the black porcelain-like material are used to stir tea, water and alcohol to remove chlorine and other impurities. Once it no longer functions as a purifier, it can be broken into small pieces and recycled into soil where it acts as plant nourishment.
The inherently beautiful product was recently highlighted in a T Magazine article, reminding us "that nature has its own way of purifying itself" and underlining the brilliance of process design.
Basic air and liquid purification products are now available in United States through Design Within Reach, while a full range of personal hygiene products, jewelry and sculptures can be found at the Sort Of Coal online shop.