The Many Uses Of Bamboo Vinegar
Bamboo vinegar isn't anything you would put in your salad. If contains the same basic ingredient that makes up vinegar, acetic acid, but also contains a wide variety of other components, making it inedible. Still, bamboo vinegar has some interesting medicinal properties, and provides enough in the way of benefits to justify its production.
Bamboo is a grass, and one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing plant on the planet. It has many uses, from indoor and outdoor decorative plantings, to home construction, flooring, furniture making, garden stakes, kitchen utensils, and countless other beneficial items.
How The Vinegar Is Made - Bamboo charcoal is a useful product of the plant. The charcoal can be used as an absorbent, a deodorizer, and for fuel. Bamboo vinegar is produced during the making of bamboo charcoal. To produce bamboo vinegar, bamboo needs to be heated in an airless container until it begins to turn to charcoal. The container needs to be airless in order that the gases which escape during combustion, as the charcoal is being produced, can be captured. These gases or vapors are condensed, the resulting product being bamboo vinegar. Besides acetic acid, the main ingredient found in the fermented vinegar we use with food items, bamboo vinegar contains among other things phenols and cresol, as well as several hundred other chemical compounds which in combination serve to make it inedible. Whether bamboo vinegar is or is not toxic when digested isn't well documented, but given the number of compounds it consists of, some of which, due to the charcoal producing process, could be carcinogenic, would make ingestion of the vinegar somewhat unwise.
Medicinal Properties - In any event, bamboo vinegar has medicinal value, and is especially useful in the treatment of skin conditions such as eczema and atopic dermatitis, for which it is applied topically. Bamboo vinegar also is known to have both anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Like bamboo charcoal which can absorb odors, bamboo vinegar acts in much the same way, and is useful in the production of deodorant products as well as other cosmetic products. It is also used as an insecticide. Its use as an insecticide would seem to be one very excellent reason for not taking it internally to cure what ails you.
Many Claims, Some Valid, Some Questionable - If you purchase bamboo vinegar on the market, for whatever purpose, it is usually in a diluted form. Because the product has so many uses, and perhaps because bamboo itself has so many uses, including medicinal uses, claims as to what the vinegar can or should be used for can sometimes be exaggerated. One of the newer products on the market today are detox foot soles containing bamboo vinegar. These soles or pads are no doubt of value when it comes to treating certain skin conditions, and have known healing properties. However, they are also sold with the claim that they will pull out harmful toxins or “vapors” from the body, thereby befitting one's overall health. From the perspective of Asian medicine or alternative medicine, there may be some justification for the claim. From the perspective of Western medicine, the value of bamboo vinegar in drawing out harmful bodily vapors has yet to be substantiated.
Just how bamboo vinegar and the process for it came to be discovered does not appear to be well documented, and the identity of the inventor is most probably lost in the mists of time. Most likely, during the production of bamboo charcoal, which has been going on for centuries, someone noticed the vapors that were given off, decided to try to capture them, and determine whether these vapors were of potential use.