Charcoal inserts - are they well researched?

Nano-technology and baby – bamboo charcoal inserts

Charcoal inserts - are they well researched?
I prefer regular bamboo over charcoal bamboo due to “potential” concerns… But I’m like that!

Nano-technology sounds advanced, right? It also may sound a bit scary – especially if you’ve heard a bit about the potential risks. Heck some people are just afraid of science! I’ve delayed making this post for a while because I’m not sure that I can make an entire opinion because I refuse to buy into nano-technology in cloth diapers. What’s that? Yes, charcoal bamboo inserts is nano-technology. Charcoal inserts are popular but are they okay?

I’ve posted before about some of the reasons I’m against the “cheap” cloth diapers. Yes, I’ve purchased them and that is where I formed my opinion. I thought I was saving money but really, quality is worth both the money AND it is a more conscientious decision for me. I just really *feel* bad about buying knock-off diapers. No return policy, no support and the fact that I’m doing nothing for the economy just get to me.

Charcoal inserts or regular inserts?

In the same breath of cheap cloth diapers we find charcoal bamboo since both come from “co-op” and group buys and not usually from WAHM boutiques or other stores. Not that I think everything has to come from a store, but I’m wondering why, if it is so good, hasn’t it been picked up by any of the regular cloth diaper manufacturers or any of the top 10-15 cloth diaper online stores (yes I looked them each up).

What is charcoal bamboo?

Charcoal bamboo uses the bamboo plant and heats it to such a point that it turns into charcoal. It is then ground and embedded into rayon into yarn.

According to an importer’s website, they indicate: “based on existing document, there are two main ways to produce bamboo charcoal fiber: the first way is to add nano-bamboo charcoal powder during the process of spinning in the spinning solution; the second is to add the established bamboo charcoal composite polymer master-batch in the stage of synthesising fiber.”

So basically what happens in between there? The particles are so small (hence nano technology) and when we put them into diapers, HOW much is being absorbed and can they really ever get clean? I hear a lot of complaints that people can’t get their bamboo charcoal inserts clean.

Then, when it comes to nanto technology you are talking about particles 1-100 nm long – as in very not long. Very not big. All inserts get some pilling and those pills fall off – even if bamboo charcoal has anti-pilling properties, this stuff is “good” for absorbing radiation, . Do those then make their way on to our bodies? If baby has a rash could the particles enter the body? There’s also risk of pulmonary disease (potentially, it hasn’t been ruled out) for those who are involved in production. The particles are too small to filter out. Here’s an article that discusses some concerns of nanotechnology.

Too many questions – too few answers

There are too many open questions for me to be okay with nanotechnology-based cloth diaper inserts. Until we know more about the technology, I can’t say I’m okay with charcoal bamboo inserts.


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  1. If burned food can be carcinogenic, how is burned bamboo any different? I wouldn’t put charcoal anything against my baby’s skin.

  2. Fuzzibunz says they use nanotechnology on their packaging of the OS elite diaper.

    I tried to inquire because I am leery of nanotech, but their customer service is comprised of SAHM’s & they gave me a canned response to the effect of how their diapers are very safe…blah blah…blah….

    Could you try to investigate this as well?

  3. As a cloth diapering dad, I’ve never even heard of charcoal bamboo inserts, but am in general a big fan of the breakthroughs that nano-technology is offering the energy storage and renewable energy sectors.

  4. I use and make charcoal bamboo inserts as a wahm. I have no issues with the cleaning process of the inserts or with it being against my sons skin. I get more.absorption, no diaper rashes, less washing cycles, and no stinkies. I have had.more problems with the big company inserts. Just wanted to let you know there are a.few of is wahms providing these inserts as a.good since you made a statement that there were none.

    1. thank you for you note. You are welcome to reply with your site in case someone is reading and interested in purchasing.
      I do know some people who really enjoy the fibers and find them useful.
      For me it is the unknown and skin absorpion that we do not see since the fibers spun are so small. You may want to wear a mask while cutting the fibers as chinese workers are apparently getting ill from it but they are around much more of it in a factory environment.

    2. Kelly, congrats on your business venture. I would recommend using a mask while cutting charcoal bamboo due to the health concerns seen in plants in China.

  5. I have never heard of this before! I have a friend who researches nano-tech but it seems strange to me to use it in diapers!

  6. As Kelly has stated, I have no problems with my charcoal bamboo inserts or my co-op ordered charcoal bamboo lined diapers. They work wonderfully for me and have for the last 9 months. Not to mention they have all held up very beautifully and work far better than any of the pricer diapers I have tried on my baby. I can see the possible concern of nanotechnology… any new technologies are raise for concern to anybody looking to figure out the true details of it and the unknown effects of it on our bodies. I know we only want the best for our children, but we do the best we can with what we have. For me it comes down to what I can afford and, within that realm, what I can get to work best for my child. I find them far better than putting disposables on :)

  7. Amanda,
    Great article! Thanks so much! I now am sure my American made bamboo is best for my little one.

    1. Thanks. I do think there are some great qualities to charcoal bamboo, but in a plave where there is a potential for broken skin, I just am not sure of the technology!

  8. Amanda,
    Absolutely! After all one never knows when you go to change a diaper and poof there’s a new rash. :-)

  9. Some may call it silly but I really try to buy American diapers only. My husband fights for our freedom and I don’t always have a choice for buying china products. But with diapers I do. Also I know some will contest my comment because china diapers are cheaper. But of one is truly concerned with money prefolds are always a good option. Plus if I ever have issues with my American diapers I don’t have to worry about calling outside the country or a huge hassle for replacement or returns.

  10. LOL! Bamboo charcoal eliminates diaper rash! This article is obviously biased based on a bad experience. Why create a controversy over nothing? If you’re upset with your experience, write about that.

    1. Actually I have never used it. The issue for me alone is the use of the new techbology when there could be breaks in the skin. Considering the absorption of radiation in charcoal bamboo, I just wouldn’t risk putting it on a baby’s bottom until more research has been done.

      1. To be clear, when you say “Considering the absorption of radiation in charcoal bamboo…” are you meaning you think that the charcoal inserts are irradiated and that a baby could get radiation through their diaper rash if if they wore charcoal inserts?

        If that’s the case, and with all due respect, I’d like to say that there is a difference between a fabric being able to absorb radiation and having actually absorbed radiation.

        Just because the fabric is able to absorb something doesn’t mean that it is sold already having absorbed it.

        If that is not what you meant then I apologize for misunderstanding you.

        1. I am hesitant to be near something that would attract radiation to a baby. Having radiation away from the body is good obviously.

          Since, in the process of making charcoal bamboo fibers the wrapping process and cutting process is potentially dangerous, I recommend not using DIY charcoal bamboo without at least wearing a facemask, etc.

          Since the writing of this article there’s been some advancements made so it is likely more safe for those working with charcoal bamboo. But, since many parents are cutting and sewing these at home, there may still be loose fibers and the nanotechnology going into potential diaper sores still doesn’t sit well with me. Each family has to decide on their own what is best, but the potential risks (and benefits) should be told to the families.

  11. Hi There,
    I’d just like to note that charcoal is used to filter our drinking water ;).
    I use and sell charcoal bamboo inserts. They work really well and I have never seen any “dust.”

    1. Yes charcoal is used as a filter. The issues for health are being seen mostly in the manufacturing process. So those involved at that end are at most risk. Since they’re being made mostly in China there is little protection for the workers. Those who cut the charcoal (say for sewing) should likely wear a mark (though I’m not sure if that’s enough). Because it is NANO technology the particulates are small. As in you won’t always see them.

  12. I had no idea that something like this existed. When I first saw the headline, I thought this product was being marketed as a better way to absorb odors. I have seen charcoal inserts used in medical settings to alleviate unpleasant odors.

  13. I have never heard of this use of charcoal before. I take charcoal as an effective way of getting rid of nausea, gas, and it helps when you have food poisoning. I really don’t see the problem of using it in diaper inserts, but if you don’t feel good using them, then don’t.


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