The title of this post might sound like a science project but it is in fact an attempt to throw a little light on the various claims made for the wonders of bamboo charcoal. It is no doubt that bamboo is a great renewable resource and that bamboo charcoal can be used for a number of purposes including removing bad smells from a home and getting rid of excess humidity in the air; but what does it mean when you read on Amazon that bamboo charcoal also emits negative ions and far infrared rays? Should you be excited about this or is it merely a marketing ploy? This post will try to shed some light on these questions.

Negative ions are formed by the movement of air and water. For this reason the negative ion count is high around waterfalls, in the mountains and on beaches. The movement of air and water breaks air molecules down into negative and positive ions. In contrast, the negative ion count can get very low or even zero in buildings where there is no natural ventilation. Indeed electrical appliances give off positive ions that neutralize the negative ions present in the air.

The Japanese are firm believers in the benefits of negative ions. There isn’t much scientific proof to back up the claims of negative ion machine producers that insist that a high negative ion count improves human happiness. Still such machines are often found in homes and offices in Japan.

There are a few studies done on the benefits of negative ions by scientists on the fringe of the mainstream academic community suggesting that negative ions like sunlight are essential effectors of human mood. The jury is very much out on this matter.

Similarly, big claims are made for the health benefits of far infrared rays. Infrared rays are electromagnetic waves with a frequency beyond the visible spectrum. There are short, medium and far infrared rays. The first two are used for many things such as night vision glasses. Far infrared rays have few applications because they only cover a distance of 5mm.

Again the Japanese have made a far infrared ray sauna which is like a metal belt that can be put over damaged parts of the body. It is claimed, among other things, that far infrared rays can treat cancer, reduce blood pressure, relieve muscle pain and arthritis and cure carpal tunnel syndrome. None of this has been conclusively proved. Far infrared rays are the darling of the ‘wellness’ industry.

It seems to me that it is better to try to get your dose of negative ions and far infrared rays from bamboo charcoal in the home, in clothing and in bedding than waste lots of money on Japanese equipment. If it works you are a winner, if it doesn’t you have only lost a few dollars; not thousands.