If you’ve spent any length of time in a health food store, you’ve likely seen activated charcoal on the shelves. Uses for activated charcoal ranges from teeth whitening to gas pain reduction and everything in-between.
Since the 1800s, the uses for activated charcoal have continued to expand.
To clarify, the charcoal we’re talking about is NOT the same type used in the charcoal briquets that get your summer BBQ going. Don’t use that stuff. You’ll find activated charcoal comes in a variety of forms — from capsules to tablets and pellets to powders.
Curious about how to use this black powder to your benefit?
Below, we cover what it is, how it’s made, and unique ways to use it at home!
What is Activated Charcoal?
For as many ways as you can buy it, you’ll find a special use for activated charcoal.
In its most common form, activated charcoal comes as a dark black powder. It’s created from carbon-rich materials heated at high temperatures between 600 and 900 degrees.
The fine powder of activated charcoal is made from substances like:
When processed at high temperatures, activated charcoal turns much more porous than other types of charcoal. This end product is what appears in bottles, jars, capsules, and tubes in your health food store.
7 Different Uses for Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal has taken center stage in both the health and beauty industries for its powerful ability to multitask. Interest in its internal and external uses has generated content in both mainstream media stories and medical studies over the last several years.
For years, activated charcoal has been used for a multitude of health ailments and other unique purposes.
Here are 7 ways you can use it at home to benefit your health:
1. Take the Sting Out of Bug Bites
Heading out into the great outdoors for some adventure time this summer? You’ll want bug spray, but you’ll also want to bring along this nifty DIY concoction for any spots you might miss. The bugs will always tag you in that one small spot you forgot to cover with spray.
With the below DIY activated charcoal bug paste, you’ll have an easy and natural remedy to cover up any itchy spots if you do get bit. No need to carry messy lotions or stinky creams in your bag.
DIY Bug Bite Paste
Activated charcoal powder
Directions: Mix a few tablespoons of activated charcoal powder with some coconut oil. Store in a Mason jar with a screw-on lid. For a natural remedy, apply it directly onto any bug bites to take the itch and sting out. You can also apply it to any rashes nature may bestow upon you.
2. Alleviate Gas Pains
Feeling slightly gassy? Whether it was from too much healthy food — hello, broccoli — or a night of indulgence, a charcoal capsule may help. A small 2012 study found that 34% of participants with excessive intestinal gas who ingested activated charcoal three times daily found relief.
Our BLACK MAGIC wellness shot is restorative and settles the tummy with its combo of activated charcoal, ginger, lemon, and coconut water. The activated charcoal you’ll find in our BLACK MAGIC shot is made of coconut shells!
3. Purify Your H20
If you use a water filter pitcher in your home, then you’ve probably noticed your cartridge filled with black specks. Often, you’ll need to rinse it several times before using the water for consumption. Water filter companies use activated charcoal in filters in cartridges because of how impurities stick to the charcoal, resulting in clean drinking water.
If you’re handy, you can make your own activated carbon water filters to fit your pitcher.
Not only is activated charcoal commonly found in water filtration systems, but it’s also used for air filters and respiratory masks.
4. Use It As a Natural Deodorizer
Other than filtering out toxins, activated charcoal may be used as a natural deodorizer due to its absorbent ability.
On a micro level, it’s reported to control humidity levels and suck up extra moisture.
In the fridge, some say activated charcoal battles food smells better than baking soda! Cook’s Illustrated staffers did a little odor-absorbing test of baking soda vs activated charcoal pellets.
To check on the effectiveness, the study included placing 1 cup of baking soda in an open container into a mini-fridge. In a different fridge, staffers placed 1 cup of activated charcoal pellets in an open container, too. Both fridges included a variety of strong-smelling food products like kimchi, chopped opinions, and canned tuna. Testers found that the fridge with the activated charcoal inside was “less smelly” than the one containing baking soda.
5. Helps Cholesterol Reduction
Activated charcoal essentially binds to everything — including cholesterol in the gut. Because of its sponge-like ability, it can help those with high cholesterol levels get their health back on track.
One study found a daily dose of 24 grams of activated charcoal consumed for a month lowered total cholesterol by 25%. Good cholesterol, known as HDL, increased by 8%, according to the study Effect of Activated Charcoal on Hypercholesterolaemia.
6. Restores Pearly Whites
It may seem counterintuitive to use black powder to remove teeth stains, but it works! You can buy it in a toothpaste tube or make your own activated charcoal toothpaste. Below is a DIY recipe a dentist created for those who want to remove stains from drinks like wine, tea, or coffee.
2 ½ teaspoons Xylitol
4 teaspoons distilled water
2 teaspoons activated charcoal
3 teaspoons calcium carbonate
1 teaspoon food-grade bentonite clay
2 teaspoons cold-pressed organic coconut oil (melted)
Step 1: Mix activated charcoal, calcium carbonate, bentonite clay, and xylitol in a bowl.
Step 2: Mix with a fork until well combined.
Step 3: Mix in water to form a paste.
Step 4: Add coconut oil. Blend with your fork until a smooth paste forms.
Step 5: Store in a glass jar or refillable squeeze tube.
Brush away the stains in-between your annual dental cleanings. Do keep the above recipe in the fridge so it doesn’t go bad since real food ingredients are used. This recipe will last about a month for a family of four.
DIY recipe courtesy of the Ask the Dentist.
7. Your Secret to Beautiful Skin
Because activated charcoal is fantastic at sucking out toxins, it can do the same for any problem areas on your face. Draw out impurities in your skin and remove bacteria with a DIY activated charcoal face mask.
Three reasons to love an activated charcoal mask: It controls oil; it acts as a natural acne remedy, and it removes skin impurities. Say hello to gorgeous skin with this DIY mask below that contains honey, known for its antibacterial impact, matcha, known for its antioxidant properties, and, of course, activated charcoal.
Whip up this 3-ingredient mask for glowing skin:
DIY Charcoal & Honey Mask
1-2 tablespoons raw honey
1 teaspoon matcha powder
1-2 activated charcoal capsules
Directions: Fill a small bowl with the honey and stir in the matcha. Open and pour the contents of the charcoal capsules into the mix. Stir. Put mixture onto your face and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with cool water before moisturizing.
Recipe courtesy of Hello Glow blog.
Final Tips for Using Activated Charcoal
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to integrate activated charcoal into your everyday life. From face masks to water purification and everything in-between, when you use this carbon-rich material appropriately, your health and skin may benefit!
A few final tips on ingesting activated charcoal:
Check with your doc first - While it’s safe for most individuals, always consult your doctor before adding any activated charcoal to your diet. Because of its absorbent ability, it may intervene and prevent the absorption of any medication you’re taking.
Drink plenty of H20 - When ingested, you’ll need to chase activated charcoal down with plenty of water. Your body needs to be able to flush out anything that is bound to the charcoal.
Watch your bowel movements - Be aware that activated charcoal may turn your stool black. In some cases, activated charcoal may cause constipation, too.
However you decide to use activated charcoal, we’d love to hear how it goes. Our favorite way is drinking it in our shot, of course, but share some of your all-time favorite uses below!
Ready for a little detox? Try our BLACK MAGIC wellness shot, which contains activated charcoal alongside ginger, lemon, and coconut!