We’re all familiar with charcoal — we’ve used it in art class or seen it in a water filter. But don’t go chowing down on those burnt lumps you use on the grill! That is a different type of charcoal and should never be consumed, since it contains added toxic substances.
What is activated charcoal?
Activated charcoal is actually made differently — it is pure, since it’s intended for food-grade and medicinal use, and it has more oxygen added during processing, which is done at a very high heat. This results in a much more porous product with a larger surface area and therefore a much greater ability to remove toxins. Just two grams or four capsules of activated charcoal has about the same surface area as a football field. This is why activated charcoal is such a powerful detoxifier and has so many amazing uses.
Activated charcoal has been used for many thousands of years in both Eastern and Western medicine, and still has just as many benefits today. Read on to find out how you can get started using activated charcoal in your everyday healthy lifestyle.
1. Whiten your teeth
Use a small amount of activated charcoal and apply to your teeth with a toothbrush. Leave on for a few minutes (and enjoy making silly faces at yourself in the mirror with your crazy-looking black teeth), then rinse thoroughly. When repeated regularly, this will remove stains and buildup from your teeth so they look whiter.
2. Purify Your skin
Forward-thinking brands are now making soaps, face masks, cleansers and other skin products incorporating activated charcoal because it helps remove excess oil, dirt and impurities from the skin.
You can make your own face mask with a tablespoon of raw honey and a little activated charcoal. Add a drop or two of warm water to thin the mixture if needed, then apply to your face. Rinse with plenty of water after 10 minutes.
3. Cure an upset stomach
Activated charcoal is commonly used in the medical field as an antidote for accidental poisonings or overdoses. It can also help prevent and lessen the impact of a stomach bug or food poisoning. It works by attracting and trapping toxins and chemicals in the gut, and then transporting them out via feces.
It should be noted that activated charcoal can also (detrimentally) reduce the absorption of nutrients and active ingredients from food, prescriptions and supplements, so it should be taken a length of time away from these whenever possible. In addition, research shows that certain poisons are not affected by activated charcoal, so its use should be considered on a case by case basis.
4. Cleanse your system
You may have seen charcoal lemonade at your local juice bar or health food store. It’s no surprise considering activated charcoal’s reputation as a detoxifier. You can easily make this black drink at home. Some sources say regular consumption could help with weight loss.
Another benefit may be in helping remove toxins from the gut before they make it to the kidneys. Studies show this may help reduce the load on the kidneys and improve their function.
5. Reduce cholesterol
Studies in the 1980s found that patients given regular doses of activated charcoal experienced a 41 percent decrease in “bad” LDL cholesterol, while “good” HDL cholesterol increased by 8 percent. These positive changes were seen with negligible side effects, indicating that activated charcoal could be a promising natural remedy for cholesterol imbalances and related inflammatory and cardiovascular issues.
6. Take care of your hair
Did you know that hair absorbs toxins too? Since hair is very porous, you may have found your hair smells like cigarette smoke or food or any other substance you’ve been hanging around throughout your day. You can remove these toxins from your hair by adding a small amount of activated charcoal to your shampoo. Just make sure you rinse thoroughly to remove any black powder from your scalp.
7. Heal your wounds
Since activated charcoal is so good at absorbing toxins, it’s no surprise that it can help support the body in healing wounds like cuts, scrapes and bites. Try combining activated charcoal with manuka honey or coconut oil for a powerful healing balm.
8. Clean mold from surfaces
Use activated charcoal combined with borax, tea tree oil and water to make a scouring scrub. Use this potent mixture to remove toxic mold from surfaces in moist areas such as the laundry room, basement or bathroom.
9. Prevent a hangover
Although the medical literature suggests activated charcoal doesn’t do much to remove alcohol from the bloodstream, many people swear by its ability to prevent a hangover. Try taking two to four capsules when you’re having a night of libations and see for yourself.
10. Filter your water
Activated charcoal is known to be even more powerful than regular charcoal for water filtration. Try adding a filtering straw or charcoal stick to your water and enjoy better water flavor and quality.
11. Purify your air
Keep your eye out for activated charcoal filters to use in your home. A simpler option is just using activated charcoal sachets, which natural absorb odor and pollutants.
12. Grow healthy plants
Add activated charcoal to plant pots to help improve soil quality and moisture retention.
13. Relax and detoxify
And finally, why not try a relaxing detoxification bath with activated charcoal. Find a commercially-made bath bomb, or try making your own. Your skin and body will thank you.
How to buy activated charcoal
Activated charcoal can most often be found in capsule form. You may also be able to find it in powdered form. If not, you can simply open the capsules and empty them to use the contents for whatever purpose you like. Make sure you are buying pure activated charcoal with no additives.
— Liivi Hess