Activated charcoal, granular activated carbon, granular active carbon – all different terms which just so happen to refer to one specific type of charcoal. Or, more accurately, it is charcoal reheated and oxidized, making the charcoal highly porous. Even though charcoal on its own is known for being a fairly porous substance, when oxidized (or, in some cases, carbonized with other inert gases) the amount of porous spaces increases significantly.
Activated Charcoal Uses
One of the common utilizations of this porous carbon is to filter gas. Not as in fuel, but the gaseous substances that are either naturally produced or expelled from various machinery. Take, for example, air filters. Air is technically a gas, and when the air contains impure elements, a purifier in the form of a filter will help remove these impurities. In a slightly different form, the activated charcoal will perform the same function with water—a use common in fish tanks.
Yet one of the long-standing functions of activated charcoal is oral ingestion. Companies make pills that contain activated charcoal which dissolve in the stomach, allowing the granular carbon to remove toxins. You can find a ton of claims on the Internet about the magic that taking a dose of activated charcoal performs, many of which aren’t medically confirmed, however, it is common for hospitals to use activated charcoal for this use. It is widely known to be safe to ingest and acts as a poultice.
Another use gaining momentum is using activated carbon as a teeth stain removal device. Your teeth’s health is important, and the way activated charcoal works also helps to bind plaque, making it an effective whitening tool. Put some of it on your toothbrush with liquid water. It will be weird to brush with at first—seeing the black get smeared on your teeth will feel counterproductive. However, it will rinse off your teeth easily and you will love the results. Just be careful to avoid staining your sink—keep soap handy to quickly clean up any messes which ensue. Many people swear by this method to whiten their teeth, and its use on teeth as a cleaner and whitener goes back for centuries.
Activated Charcoal Tablets: Buying The Hype?
The cure-all claims made by home remedy purveyors would make you think that the effects of an administration of an activated charcoal dose would have angels alighting, blasting their trumpets, heralding in an eon of well-being. Temper your expectations from that. However, despite the lack of scientific support behind (many of) their claims, there is a lot of anecdotal support for them. And, as previously mentioned, it is safe to use, whether you’re looking for an alcohol hangover cure or something to stop that diarrhea, or a general body detox, you might as well give it a try.
One thing to note before you buy activated charcoal pills: In addition to toxins and poisoning issues, the effect of the pills will also trap nutrients. Also note that the product has contraindications in situations where patients have unblocked airways.
Can I Make My Own Activated Charcoal?
We would not suggest trying to make your own Activated Charcoal. There are tutorials on the web to do so, but many instructions are unsafe in many ways. One of the reasons to come to a carbon expert is due to the strict testing that goes on before, during and after manufacturing. If you were to make your own charcoal and consume it, sure you may not feel immediate side-effects, but the wrong process could have a long-term negative effect. Why risk your health when one bag could last you a lifetime?
Activated Charcoal As A Deodorizer
One of the things that using active charcoal as a filter does is the loss of odors in gasses. Odors, and any other prone elements of the gas, get trapped in the activated charcoal through a process called adsorption. Through adsorption the particles bind to the surface area of the activated charcoal—which is why it is imperative that activated charcoal actually be activated; the larger the surface area, the longer life it will have.
It is effective enough that there are underpants available for purchase which make use of activated charcoal for moments of flatulence. Let’s face it—suspension of flatulence detection would do everyone a world of good. If only they could make activated underwear for dogs and cats; the media would have a field day!
So, whether you’re looking to filter water for your terrarium (terrariums are terribly popular in the UK) or wanting to keep some pills handy for your first aid kit, activated charcoal makes an excellent choice. If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.