This is how you light binchotan (Japanese charcoal) | 3 steps + tips

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  June 11, 2022

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Binchotan charcoal (which is also referred to as bincho-zumi or white charcoal) is Japanese charcoal primarily used in Japanese BBQ. Mostly, binchotan comes from oak, and it gives you a clean and smokey flavor for your meats.

charcoals inside the bbq smoker

Since binchotan charcoal is so clean and gives a very good flavor, it’s the perfect fuel for grilling yakitori or unagi.

If you haven’t used binchotan charcoal before, then you haven’t experienced any of its surprises. This charcoal is covered with a metallic sheen, which hides its wood origin.

However, the most surprising thing about binchotan is that it produces powerful heat, in spite of it burning silently and cleanly, and without producing any smoke.

Even though binchotan doesn’t ignite easily, once started, it gives you a steady burn, with beautiful flames.

Another notable thing about binchotan is that it doesn’t have any chemical additives, which means it’s very safe for grilling. In addition to this, its excessively high heat helps in preserving the flavorful juices, gives you a beautiful sear, and makes every barbecued meal absolutely mouthwatering!

Also, it’s important to note that this amazing fuel isn’t only limited to grilling. You can also use it to filter air since it has the capability to absorb bad odors and humidity.

In addition, this Japanese charcoal is popularly known for purifying water. It’s said that binchotan has organic components, which bind and remove chemicals from water, which makes it clean and safe for drinking.

Apart from that, there are other different uses for binchotan charcoal, like binchotan toothbrushes and binchotan towels, which can give you a natural and clean feeling.

However, the main purpose of this post is to let you know how you can use your binchotan charcoal for grilling.

Also read: the best grills for binchotan charcoal

How to light binchotan

One of the major reasons why most people like using binchotan charcoal is because of its efficiency, as well as the heat it produces.

One notable thing about binchotan is that it can burn for around 3 to 5 hours, and once extinguished, you can reuse it for up to 3 hours. This, however, will depend on the uses.

So how do you light it?

The following are the steps you can follow to light binchotan:

  1. First, put your charcoal into a starter chimney or place the charcoal over an open flame. You’ll need to be patient in this step since you’ll require around 20 to 25 minutes to get a consistent glow from the charcoal.
  2. Once the charcoal is fully lit, now transfer it into a Konro grill one by one, and make sure that you place them evenly. In case you want to use only half of the grill, make sure that you place the charcoal evenly on the side you’d like to use.
  3. Lastly, allow the charcoals to burn for around 15 minutes so that they can preheat your grill. You can even move your charcoal around if you want to get more heat from them. Now, you’ll be ready to use your grill.

Tips

  • Always make sure that you place your binchotan logs at least 2 or 3 layers deep. This is important, as it gives you vertical heat, as well as a reliable grilling experience.
  • Always be patient. Some people like to begin grilling before the charcoal is burning hot enough.
  • You’ll know that your charcoal is ready for grilling by placing a piece of chicken skin. If it blisters and sizzles within 1 minute, you’re good.

Different types of Japanese charcoal that you can use

IPPINKA Kishu pro-grade Japanese bnchotan BBQ charcoal, 2 lb of charcoal

Ippinka-Binchotan-charcoal-for-Yakitori
(view more images)
  • This bag consists of 2 lb of binchotan charcoal, which is ideal for grilling.
  • Because this product is natural, its diameter and length differ among the different pieces. So don’t be surprised when you find pieces of various lengths in your bag.
  • The longer charcoal sticks burn for longer, and that’s why they’re considered to be restaurant grade. You’ll find many restaurants using these sticks in their binchotan grills.
  • The material used to make this type of binchotan charcoal is Japanese Oka from Kishu, which is known to produce the highest grade of binchotan charcoal.
  • You can reuse the IPPINKA Kishu pro-grade Japanese binchotan BBQ charcoal, but this depends on its usage, as well as storage.

MTC Japanese Style binchotan Hosomaru (Skinny Charcoal) white charcoal 33 lb / 15 kg professional & restaurant grade

  • This package come with 15 kg / 33 lb of restaurant and professional binchotan grade charcoal.
  • The charcoal is nearly smokeless.
  • You can also use the MTC Japanese style binchotan Hosomaru (skinny charcoal) white charcoal to purify water, neutralize bad odors, remove toxins, and as a rice additive.

IPPINKA Kishu select grade Japanese binchotan BBQ charcoal

  • The bag contains 3 lbs of high-grade binchotan charcoal, which is natural and doesn’t contain any chemicals.
  • The binchotan charcoal from Kishu is considered to be the best in the world.
  • This bag consists of Kowari (1/3 bag) and Kirimaru (2/3 bag) binchotan charcoal. Kowari is binchotan charcoal tha’ts thinner and splits easily, while Kirimaru charcoal is thicker and doesn’t split.
  • Kowari charcoal is ideal for starting fires, while Kirimaru charcoal is best for grilling since it lasts longer.
  • The IPPINKA Kishu select grade Japanese binchotan BBQ charcoal is reusable, only when you use and store it properly.

The grills that you can use with Japanese binchotan charcoal

flaming charcoal on black grill

Fire Sense large charcoal grill

This is the ideal grill to enjoy what the Japanese have been enjoying for centuries when it comes to grilling.

The Fire Sense large yakatori charcoal grill is considered to be a genuine Japanese table BBQ. It’s made with clay, and the grill emits heat, which makes it produce more tender and juicier meat.

Fire-sense-large-bincho-grill
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This is also one of the best of our binchotan grills I’ve reviewed here

Notable features:

Conclusion

There you go. These are the most important things that you need to know about Japanese binchotan charcoal. However, you need to observe some precautions when grilling with this charcoal since it can be harmful when grilling indoors.

You should always make sure you use it in a well-ventilated area.

Also read my review on the best Konro grills

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.