Activated charcoal has so many beneficial properties…But let’s start with explaining what “activated” charcoal actually is.
Activated charcoal powder is charcoal that has been heated to high temperatures in a way that creates pores in the material, this massively increases its surface area and therefore its binding capabilities.
The porous surface is negatively charged, it acts as a magnet attracting and binding to positively charged molecules such as toxins and pollutants, pulling them out of the air and even our bodies (when used internally). The process is called “adsorption”, meaning to bind to rather than absorb.
Charcoal is a filter and has been used to remove toxins and waste for centuries. If you are familiar with the Berkey Water Filter Systems, the black filter elements are made from activated coconut charcoal, amongst other substances.
Q: What are the Black Berkey Purification elements made of?
A: Our Black Berkey Purification elements are composed of a proprietary formulation of more than six different media types including high grade coconut shell carbon, all constructed into a very compact matrix containing millions of microscopic pores. (from BerkeyFilters.com)
Activated charcoal is so powerful that it is used in hospitals to detoxify the body during an overdose and to remove poisons.
There are multiple types of activated charcoal on the market, some popular options include bamboo, coconut shell, and hardwood. All of these options are great and have their own benefits, but we choose to use activated coconut shell charcoal in our products.
Three of our favorite ways to use activated charcoal are:
Internally for Digestive Upset: Activated charcoal is extremely useful if you have eaten something that did not work well for your system. It will help ease gas and bloating,1 as well as bind to any toxins in the case of food poisoning. If you accidentally consume food that you know you have a sensitivity to such as wheat or dairy, activated charcoal can be taken as a preventative measure to ward off any unwanted side effects from those substances.
Externally to Remove Toxins Through the Skin: The pores in our skin are a major detox pathway for the body. The skin is interconnected with our lymphatic system, which filters and carries toxins throughout the body. By using activated charcoal externally as either a facial or underarm mask, we can pull toxins out of the body through the skin. This leads to a clearer complexion as well as cleaner lymph nodes! We add activated charcoal to our Detoxifying Mud Veil for this reason, which can be used as a facial or armpit detox mask.
To Whiten Teeth: Brushing the teeth with activated charcoal has become extremely prevalent in popular media, word is getting out about its magical whitening abilities. These whitening powers are not false advertisement, it truly works! Activated charcoal binds to toxins in the mouth and stains on the teeth, leading to fresher breath and a brighter smile. All of our Natural Clay Tooth Powders have activated charcoal. Although the black powder is a little messy, we think it is well worth the oral health benefits!
About the Author
Ariel Welch is a passionate herbalist and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. She studied at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she received her BS in Neuroscience and BA in Psychology, then at the Nutritional Therapy Association where she became a certified NTP. Through her own wellness journey, she has found power in using food as medicine as well as the magic of plants and nature. She works to educate and empower people to take charge of their health and heal themselves using holistic lifestyle interventions.