What is Activated Charcoal Good For? (20 Uses & Benefits)

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.)activated charcoal uses

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But first:

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 in the world.


Activated carbon, which has been used for over 3000 years, 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 skin.

I use it to brush my teeth, purify my water, treat a bee sting, get rid of bloating, heal a tooth infection, and it’s the main ingredient in my homemade mascara recipe.

What is Activated Charcoal Made Of?

coconut shell activated charcoal benefits

Activated Charcoal itself is a fine, odorless, tasteless, and non-toxic black carbon powder, made from nutshells, coconut shells, and other natural sources.

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.

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:

What is Activated Charcoal Good For?

activated charcoal skin uses

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)

activated charcoal health benefits uses

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 of 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, allowing for quick elimination.

Dosage: According to the Mayo Clinic, adults and teenagers would need about 25-100 grams mixed with water (one dosage), and children no more than 25-50 grams mixed with water.

activated charcoal powder
Country Life activated charcoal – view at iHerb

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.

activated charcoal for eye infections

4. Gas and Bloating 

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 the itching and pain disappear. If you were stung by a bee, remove the sting first!

Wrap with a bandage, since activated charcoal stains.

7. Spider Bites Treatment

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.

8. Acne

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:

activated charcoal facial scrub for acne
Nature’s Beauty activated charcoal face scrubview on Amazon

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.

10. Cholesterol Reduction

Studies have shown that AC can reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol as much as some prescription medications. According to some studies, activated charcoal has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels when taken in high doses.

See this study for dosage.

Remember to not take AC 90 minutes before any medication or supplements because it can interfere with absorption.

11. 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 toxins and purify your scalp.

See 6 more effective home remedies for dry and itchy scalp

12. Water purification

Activated charcoal is used in carbon block filters on our water as it can pull all toxins from the water.

Activated Charcoal Skin & Hair Uses

activated charcoal for hair and skin

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, and scars and treats acne effectively.

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 it 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 my homemade natural mascara. I use the powder form, to avoid the tiny granules from getting into my eyes. 

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 (by brightening the skin). preventing acne, reducing skin inflammation, and

Here’s my recommended AC soap.

activated charcoal soap for age spots, acne, eczema
My favorite activated charcoal soap – view on Amazon

Activated charcoal is highly absorbent and can help to remove impurities and toxins from the skin. It also absorbs excess oil. The rough texture can help to gently exfoliate the skin while removing dead skin cells and unclogging the pores.

It can also help with redness and skin irritation.

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.


I hope you’ve found this post useful. Activated charcoal has changed my life ever since I found out 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, and I prevent food poisoning complications with it. The uses are endless, and the price is so low.

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 futureWest 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

9 thoughts on “What is Activated Charcoal Good For? (20 Uses & Benefits)”

  1. Activated charcoal is thought to offer several other benefits, including less gas and flatulence, lower cholesterol levels, and improved kidney function.

  2. I like how you mentioned that activated charcoal has a myriad of health and beauty benefits. My wife is thinking of getting charcoal shampoo because she noticed the other day that she had a lot of split ends and she speculates it’s from the products she’s using now. It seems like a good idea for my wife to think about buying shampoo from a reputable supplier to help increase the health of her hair so that it can look and feel as best as possible.

  3. I’m incredibly pleased to find this article. I found it while researching the benefits of activated charcoal & didn’t realize how many beneficial uses that there are for it. The benefits for the scalp & hair are particularly interesting & causes me to be that much more excited for the new, exclusive, charcoal hair masque that I found. I can’t wait to experience the anti-aging, cleansing benefits for myself as well as share them with my clients!!

  4. Wasn’t sure about the usages for eye infection thanks for sharing your research.

    Keep your good work 🙂


  5. In Europe, the pediatrician prescribed AC as a medication for some kind of food/ medicine poisoning that my 10-year-old got while traveling. It worked great. I talked to my aunt and she says people in Europe are using it all the time. Why it’s not popular or known in the USA?

  6. Great tips. I did not know that activated charcoal was made from coconut shells and nuts shells. I knew that charcoal was a great detoxer, and they gave it for poisoning. Thanks for sharing all these great tips. Congratulations on being featured on HHGN blog hop. Pinned & tweeted!

  7. I have heard of some of the activated charcoal’s benefits but I have never used it. Your valuable summary of healthy uses is so compelling. I can’t wait to make AC toothpaste, a facial and to use it as a natural remedy! Thank you so much for sharing 22 Mind-Blowing Uses and Benefits of Activated Charcoal at the Healthy Happy Green and Natural Party Blog Hop. I’m pinning and sharing.

  8. I had no idea that activated charcoal absorbs most organic toxins, poisons, and chemicals before they can harm your body. It sounds like it has a lot of good uses that can keep you healthy in more ways than one. I especially like how it can help with food poisoning. I would imagine that activated charcoal is a great tool for someone who gets sick a lot because it can combat the toxins in your body very quickly.

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