It is important to know right from the get-go that activated charcoal is not the same thing as charcoal for your grill or charred wood from the fire. Please don’t try to substitute or make your own!
Activated charcoal consists of some substance—usually bamboo, wood, coal, or my preference, coconut shell charcoal—burned without oxygen to create char. The char is then 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.
Once activated, the increased surface area of the molecules can bind powerfully to any substance. This process of adsorption (not to be confused with absorption) is what makes charcoal so powerful. True activated charcoal is odorless, tasteless, and nontoxic.
There are many benefits of activated charcoal use. Studies show that activated charcoal may be the most effective GI tract decontaminant available. It can adsorb up to 50-60% of unwanted substances in the stomach and intestines when taken quickly after ingestion.
The same properties that make charcoal beneficial for removing harmful substances in the digestive system also make it beneficial for oral health as well. It doesn’t neutralize toxins, but rather binds them to the many tiny pores on its surface.
When used in toothpastes, powders, and oral health rinses, it can bind to bacteria and other harmful substances and remove them from the mouth. Many people like using it in this way because it also binds to substances that stain the teeth and can whiten the teeth in only a few uses.
Activated charcoal is showing up in many beauty products lately too. This is because it is effective at removing bacteria, chemicals, dirt, and build-up on the skin.
Charcoal is also used to whiten teeth. Just dip a wet toothbrush in a high quality charcoal and brush gently. Alternately, you can swish with charcoal water by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of charcoal into a small amount of water.
Ask a face mask or cleanser, I love using charcoal on my skin. Fair warning, it looks a little bizarre to paint this stuff all over your face, but it does wash off and leaves skin super soft! Your skin is the largest organ of the human body and as such, it deserves to be taken care of too. You’d be amazed with what your skin manages to collect each day, some of which is not beneficial to your health. Dust particles, dead skin, fumes from cars and buses and sweat all have the potential to build up in large quantities on the surface of the skin. If left untreated, these toxins may begin to affect your health.
Activated charcoal can be found as both a facemask and a general body washing solution. The large surface area of activated charcoal molecules is used to remove these toxins from the surface of the skin, opening up pores to allow for effective and efficient perspiration. The pores that are activated into the charcoal molecules also add a coarse texture to the mineral, which many use alongside thorough exfoliation to help clean skin.
Charcoal has been showing up in shampoos for the same reason people love it in facial products. It removes build up and impurities. Charcoal’s porous structure makes it great at removing odors, harmful chemicals and allergens from the air. This is why you’ll often find charcoal in air purifying products.
Remember, activated charcoal is NOT the same thing as the ashes from burning wood or other fires at home, so please don’t try to use those type of ashes for these or any other uses!