Recently, there has been a major trend with the use of activated charcoal in beauty, health, and home products. Activated charcoal has been popping up in facial masks, health remedies, and even ice creams and lattes.
The first time I bought activated charcoal and told my husband I was going to whiten my teeth with it, his response was, “Krysten, we use that in the Emergency Room, why are you putting it on your teeth?” Well, once I enlightened him, he began using it and has experienced its amazing results first hand.
So, what are the health, beauty, and home uses for activated charcoal? I’ll give you all of the details below.
What is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is a fine black powder made from substances like bamboo, wood, coal, or coconut shell. The charcoal is then burned without oxygen to create char. The char is heated to a high temperature and exposed to certain gases through a multi-step process to make it extremely porous. This is the “activation” part of the process. (1)
It’s important to note that activated charcoal and charcoal briquettes are not the same thing! Barbecue charcoal is loaded with toxins and chemicals that should never be consumed.
How Does Activated Charcoal Work?
Activated charcoal works by trapping toxins and chemicals in the body, preventing them from being absorbed. Instead of being absorbed, activated charcoal causes the chemical process of adsorption to occur. In the body, adsorption is the chemical reaction where elements bind to a surface. (2)
Medical Uses for Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal has been routinely used in the emergency room setting for poison control. It is important to note, if you experience poisoning or have been exposed to toxic substances, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. While activated charcoal is used in these cases, there is a very short window of time where it is effective and dosages for these situations are much different than home use.
7 Health, Beauty, and Home Uses for Activated Charcoal
Although activated charcoal has been used in the medical setting for many years, the health and beauty market has caught on to its natural benefits. Below are 7 useful ways to implement activated charcoal into your daily life.
Using activated charcoal as a natural teeth whitener has been known to be very effective. The charcoal absorbs the plaque and other teeth-staining compounds. Charcoal is mildly abrasive so be gentle and don’t use this technique more than three times per week.
My husband and I have both had very positive results, whitening our teeth with activated charcoal.
Activated charcoal can be very messy and will stain!! So, when you brush with it, be careful not to get it everywhere!! To use, simply take a clean, wet toothbrush and sprinkle a small amount of activated charcoal on the brush (best to use a spoon). Gently brush your teeth for 2 minutes, spit carefully and rinse very well. Your mouth will feel so clean and over time, you will start to see those pearly whites!
(I was worried about staining my sink at first, so I actually held a bowl under my chin. I didn’t have to do this once I got a good system down, but you will have to experiment with what works best for you).
Note: I do not use this technique nor any other teeth whitening technique while pregnant.
While I have not personally used activated charcoal for this technique, apparently, it works. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I recently found this amazing new juice bar in Charlotte, The Lights Juicery. They have on their menu, an activated charcoal latte. I was so intrigued by this, especially knowing I was going to be blogging on this topic. So, I took my husband in one day to try it out. I asked the barista about the latte, and he said most people buy it as a hangover cure. Although there has not been studies to prove its effectiveness in this way, it is said to work by many.
Curious what they put in an activated charcoal latte? This one in particular that my husband drank was: 2 grams of activated charcoal, maple syrup, and cashew milk. He said it was pretty tasty!
Toxins are known to clog our pores. When your pores aren’t clear, neither is your complexion. When used on the face, activated charcoal will help pull the dirt out of your pores. Activated charcoal should not be used on the skin more than a couple of times per week as you do not want to dry out your skin. However, if you have very oily skin, activated charcoal may help balance this out. It is great to use as a facial mask ever so often. Check out this at home charcoal mask recipe by Wellness Mama that is so easy to make.
Relieves Bug and Spider Bites
Activated charcoal has been known to draw out irritants caused by bug and spider bites. To use, simply mix one capsule of activated charcoal with ½ teaspoon of coconut oil, and dab on affected area. Re-apply every 30 minutes until itching and discomfort are gone. Because activated charcoal stains almost everything it touches, be sure to wrap the area with a bandage.
For spider and snake bites, you will want to create a larger wrap that is big enough to go around the affected area twice. Reapply every two to three hours, rinsing well in-between applications. (3)
Activated charcoal traps impurities in water including solvents, pesticides, industrial waste, and other chemicals. Because of this, activated charcoal is often used in water filtration systems. Buying activated charcoal water filters are available for whole-home systems as well as countertop models.
Because activated charcoal removes build up and impurities, you are seeing it pop up as an ingredient in many shampoos. The easiest way to try this is to simply add a tiny amount to your shampoo before washing your hair, then scrub gently and wash out.
Activated charcoal can be used in cases of food poisoning when nausea and diarrhea are present. It is imperative to drink an adequate amount of water after consuming activated charcoal as it can cause dehydration. Dosages will vary based on weight and age, so be sure to consult a healthcare professional before consuming for this treatment.
Is Activated Charcoal Safe?
Activated charcoal is not known to be toxic, though it should not be consumed within two hours of taking vitamins or medications because it will keep the body from absorbing them. It is recommended to only take activated charcoal as needed, and not on a regular basis.
As with any substance, be sure to check with your doctor before consuming internally.
Choosing the Best Activated Charcoal
If you put activated charcoal into the search field of Amazon, you will probably find hundreds of options. When choosing an activated charcoal, be sure to select one that is made from coconut shells or other natural sources. Below are a few great options for purchase.
REMEMBER! Activated charcoal is extremely messy!! It is best to store in a glass jar and keep out of children’s reach.
Have you used activated charcoal in other ways at home? Share them with me in the comments section below.