Activated charcoal is a must-have substance in your home, for a staggering amount of benefits and uses.
This inexpensive and natural ingredient is incredibly useful and has mind-blowing health and beauty benefits.
(Plus: It can literally save your life.)
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- 1 What Is Activated Charcoal?
- 2 22 Health & Beauty Benefits of Activated Charcoal
- 3 Is Activated Charcoal Safe?
- 4 ✅ Where to Buy Coconut Shell Charcoal
What Is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is a fine black powder made from bone char, coconut shells, peat, petroleum coke, coal, olive pits, or sawdust.
The charcoal is activated by processing it using hot gases. Activated charcoal is mostly known as an amazingly effective antidote because it adsorbs most organic toxins, poisons, and chemicals before they can harm your body.
Studies show that one cubic inch of activated charcoal can absorb the equivalent of 150,000 square feet of toxins. In fact, it is estimated to reduce the absorption of poisonous substances by up to 60%.
That’s why you’ll find this powerful substance in most emergency rooms across the world.
Activated carbon, which is being used for over 3000 years now, is much more than a “just” a lifesaver when you have food poisoning.
👉 It has more than 20 mind-blowing everyday benefits and uses for your health and your skin.
I use it to brush my teeth, to purify my water, to treat a bee sting, to heal a tooth infection, and it’s the main ingredient in my homemade mascara recipe.
What is Activated Charcoal Made Of?
Activated charcoal (also known as activated carbon) is not the same as the ashes from burning wood or anything else.
Barbecue charcoal is loaded with toxins and chemicals, and should never be consumed.
Activated Charcoal itself is a fine, odorless, tasteless, and non-toxic black carbon powder, made from nutshells, coconut shells, and other natural sources.
How Does it Work?
AC does not absorb the toxins but works through the chemical process of adsorption (where elements bind to a surface). It traps toxins and chemicals in its millions of tiny pores.
So, here are the main uses and benefits of activated carbon:
22 Health & Beauty Benefits of Activated Charcoal
Below you’ll find the (almost) complete list of activated carbon uses for health and beauty.
When used for health purposes, make sure to read the precautions and consult with your doctor first, as with any substance.
Activated Charcoal Health Uses (+ Dosage)
The proven health benefits of activated charcoal are:
1. First Aid for Food Poisoning
Activated charcoal can stop food poisoning dead in its tracks. It can adsorb many times its own weight in poisons and toxins. As I mentioned above, one cubic inch of activated charcoal can absorb the equivalent of 150,000 square feet of toxins
👉 Dosage: When needed, I start with ½ teaspoon activated charcoal and follow with another dose after a few hours.
It’s important to follow AC with plenty of water to prevent it from building up in your system. Also, make sure to see a doctor and not rely on AC in a life-threatening situation.
2. Emergency Toxin Removal
If any member of your family (including children) mistakenly ingests any medication or chemicals – AC can be a lifesaver.
Most organic compounds, mercury, pesticides, fertilizers, and bleach bind to the AC surface and allowing for a quick elimination.
👉 Dosage: According to the University of Michigan Health System, adults would need about 50 grams, and children no more than 10 grams.
3. Eye Infections
Activated charcoal may be the fastest and best home remedy for pink eye and other eye infections, and the earlier you start, the faster it’s gone.
👉 How to use – the easiest way to do this is to empty a tea bag and replace the tea with about ¼ or ½ teaspoon of activated charcoal.
Moisten, close your infected eye and place it over it for about 20 minutes.
Repeat every couple of hours until your eye is healed.
You can also use natural activated charcoal eye drops – see the recipe HERE.
4. Gas and Bloating Relief
AC relieves bloating and gas by binding the gas-causing byproducts in foods that cause discomfort.
According to UCLA Health, the extra spaces in the charcoal trap gas molecules, reducing the gas that causes bloating.
👉 Dosage: Take 500 mg AC one hour before a typical gas-producing meal, with a full glass of water. Follow with another glass right after to help AC get into your system.
5. Tooth Infections and Abscesses
in my experience, AC is the best home remedy for tooth infections and abscesses.
To heal a tooth infection you can do oil pulling with coconut oil and charcoal 3 times a day.
However, know that this treatment is for mild tooth infections, and tooth infections can spread throughout the body, leading to severe complications, so this doesn’t replace a visit to the dentist.
6. Tooth Whitening and Cavity Prevention
Activated charcoal is one of the best natural tooth whiteners on the planet while promoting good oral health.
It changes the PH balance in the mouth and can prevent cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
I use it twice a week or as needed by just dipping my toothbrush in it and brushing. I do not swallow it and rinse well until the spit is clear.
👉You can find a recipe for homemade natural toothpaste with AC here.
6. Mosquito Bites and Bee Stings
Mix 1 capsule with ½ tablespoon of coconut/olive oil and dab the area. Repeat every 30 minutes until itching and pain disappear.
Wrap with a bandage, since activated charcoal stains.
7. Spider Bites Treatment
(Including Brown Recluse or Black Widow) – find a fabric that is large enough to go around the bite area twice.
Dab an AC and coconut oil mixture on the fabric and wrap. Keep it in place with bandages. Repeat every 2-3 hours. Rinse well between applications.
The activated carbon binds with toxins and dirt that contribute to acne.
An activated charcoal facial scrub or mask can trap any bacteria and dirt in your pores efficiently, and remove it when washed away.
It’s also anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, which means it can reduce acne and prevent new spots from forming
Mix 1 capsule of AC with 2 teaspoons of aloe vera gel or honey. Let dry and rinse off after 10 minutes.
Or, use an activated charcoal facial scrub:
9. Digestive Cleanses
Activated charcoal can remove toxins that cause oxidative damage and allergic reactions.
A good cleanse will unburden your body from chemicals that interfere with your immunity.
Removing toxins will improve your health and help your body heal anything from joint pain to reduced mental function.
👉 According to Dr. Axe, to complete a cleanse with activated charcoal, take 10 grams 90 minutes before each meal, for 2 days. For full instructions see Dr. Axe’s article.
10. Cholesterol Reduction
Studies have shown that AC can reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol as much as some prescription medication.
See this study for dosage.
Remember to not take AC 90 minutes before any medication or supplements because it can interfere with absorption.
12. Pain Relief
Activated charcoal poultice overnight can be extremely helpful for any pain you may have, including joint pain, PMS cramps, and more.
👉 How to use – the simplest way to use it for pain is to relax in an activated charcoal bath. Just add one cup of AC to your hot bath. The pain goes away so quickly!
Another option is making a poultice with 3 tablespoons of charcoal and 3 tbsp ground flax (or bentonite clay) seed and apply to the pain area while keeping it in place with bandages.
Change every 4-6 hours.
13. Scalp Redness, Dandruff, Oil, and Itchiness
AC can be used as a great scalp treatment for most scalp conditions. It works by soaking up excess oil, product buildup, dead skin cells, and dirt – just like a sponge.
You can use it before your regular shampoo or mix it in your shampoo. It can pull out and toxins and purify your scalp.
👉See 6 more effective home remedies for dry and itchy scalp
15. Water purification
Activated charcoal is used in carbon block filters on our water as it can pull all toxins from the water.
Activated Charcoal BEAUTY Uses (Skin/Hair)
Charcoal on your face and in your hair may not seem very glamorous – until you see the remarkable results.
This gritty black powder can purify your skin and hair naturally and is used in many skin and beauty products, including deodorants, soaps, creams, salves, and face masks.
Activated charcoal can remove dental stains, odors, skin pigmentation, oily skin, scars and treats acne effectively.
The beauty uses of activated charcoal are:
1. Cleansing Your Pores
Activated charcoal used in a face mask binds and pulls the dirt out of your pores, making them less visible.
For an even better cleanse – use with an exfoliating scrub.
2. Oily Skin Treatment
Used in a cleanser or a mask, charcoal pulls the excess oils from your skin, leaving it smooth and glowing.
To avoid drying your skin, do not do this more than twice a week.
3. Hair Detox and Hair Volume
Adding activated charcoal to your shampoo will remove chemicals and hidden dirt from your scalp. However, do not use it if have very light hair.
This deep cleansing of your scalp will help add volume to your hair when it feels weighted down and saggy.
4. Natural Eyeliner and Mascara
Activated charcoal is the main ingredient in homemade natural mascara
5. Activated Charcoal Facial Mask for a Mini Facelift
here’s a simple recipe you can use once to twice a week for glowing and smooth skin:
- Step 1 – mix 1 tbsp of activated charcoal with 1 tsp raw coconut oil, while adding a drop of water until you get the consistency you want.
- Step 2 – apply to your face and allow to fully dry
- Step 3 – follow with your moisturizer or favorite oil
6. Exfoliating Soap
AC is a great bonus in any soap.
In soap form, it’s a bit gritty and provides just the gentle exfoliation you need, while removing toxins and dirt from your skin.
7. Reducing Age Spots
I’ve found many testimonials about using activated charcoal soap to reduce age spots.
👉Here’s my recommended AC soap.
Is Activated Charcoal Safe?
Activated charcoal is generally safe for adults, children, and the environment. You’ll find it in food coloring, water filtering, and kidney dialysis machines.
However, there are a few things to consider:
- Oral AC should always be followed by plenty of water
- Don’t take AC 90 minutes before medication or other supplements
- AC stains almost everything. Protect surfaces and your clothes before using.
- It is not recommended to take AC on a regular basis.
- Use a high-quality, pure form of activated charcoal. I only use this one made from coconut shells.
Here’s a full list of precautions.
Is Activated Charcoal Safe for the Eyes?
Yes, activated charcoal is safe for use around the eyes, as long as you use it outside your eyes and not inside them. There is a chance that the charcoal contains some contaminants, so to be on the safe side – don’t let it get into your eyes.
You can find safe activated charcoal eye drops to use for eye infections
✅ Where to Buy Coconut Shell Charcoal
I keep this brand of activated charcoal on hand because it is made from coconut shells and is the purest source I’ve personally found.
If stored in airtight containers, activated charcoal has an almost indefinite shelf life.
I hope you’ve found this post useful. Activated charcoal has definitely changed my life ever since I’ve found so much about it. I even use it as the best pesticide remover from my non-organic vegetables and fruit.
I brush my teeth with it, I heal my eyes with it, I relieve pain with it, I prevent food poisoning complications with it. The uses are endless, and the price is so low.
What about you? What can you tell me about how to use AC? What’s your experience with it?
To your health and happiness,
Activated Charcoal Studies
Lapus, Robert Michael, Activated charcoal for pediatric poisonings: the universal antidote?, https://doi.org/10.1097/MOP.0b013e32801da2a9
Derlet RW, Albertson TE. Activated charcoal–past, present and future. West J Med. 1986;145(4):493–496.
Helen Senderovich & Megan J. Vierhout (2018) Is there a role for charcoal in palliative diarrhea management?, Current Medical Research and Opinion, 34:7, 1253-1259, DOI: 10.1080/03007995.2017.1416345
Maconi G, Bolzacchini E, Radice E, Marzocchi M, Badini M. Alpha-galactosidase versus active charcoal for improving sonographic visualization of abdominal organs in patients with excessive intestinal gas. J Ultrasound. 2012;15(4):232–238. Published 2012 May 17. doi:10.1016/j.jus.2012.04.002