Activated Charcoal: Uses and Benefits

Activated charcoal is a fine, odorless, black powder often used in emergency rooms to treat overdoses. Its toxin-absorbing properties have a wide range of medicinal and cosmetic uses, though none are scientifically proven.

Superheating natural sources of carbon, such as wood, produces activated charcoal. The black powder stops toxins from being absorbed in the stomach by binding to them. The body is unable to absorb charcoal, and so the toxins that bind to the charcoal leave the body in the feces.

This article will discuss some of the ways activated charcoal can be used, its potential benefits, and if there are any risks.


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Various activated charcoal deodorants are widely available. Charcoal may absorb smells and harmful gases, making it ideal as an underarm, shoe, and refrigerator deodorant. Activated charcoal is also reported to be able to absorb excess moisture and control humidity levels at a micro level.

DIY Deodorant with Activated Charcoal

What you need:

  • 4 ½ tbsp shea butter
  • 5 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1-2 capsules activated charcoal
  • 20 drops essential oil of your choice
  • Deodorant tube or clean container


  • Place 4 ½ tbsp of shea butter in a small non-metal pan on the stove top. You can use a ceramic pan.
  • Gently melt it down over a low heat. Don’t turn up the heat because we don’t want the nutrients to be destroyed with high heat.
  • Once melted, turn off the heat and add the baking soda and corn starch. Empty two capsules of activated charcoal into the mixture.
  • Stir well to form a creamy paste then stir in the essential oil of your choice.
  • Pour your creamy mixture into deodorant tubes or a glass container. If using a plastic container, then first completely cool your deodorant for 10 minutes. It will become more firm but you can still scrape it into the container.
  • That’s it! Your DIY deodorant with activated charcoal is ready! Let it set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before use! If storing in a container, scoop out just two pea-sized amounts and apply on each clean underarm.

2Tooth Whitening Agent

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Activated charcoal is a natural tooth-whitening agent. Its high absorbing ability may produce an ion exchange in the mouth, via its fine pores to bind and remove tooth staining agents.

Activated charcoal or carbon is one of the materials present in toothpaste products. Using activated charcoal to brush your teeth can absorb the dirt and clean the teeth.

3 Improves Kidney Function

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Activated charcoal improves kidney function in individuals with kidney diseases. It acts as a filtering agent and helps in getting rid of the unwanted waste materials present in excess amount in individuals with kidney diseases

Activated charcoal seems to be especially effective at removing toxins derived from urea, the main byproduct of protein digestion.

More research is needed, but some animal studies show that activated charcoal may help improve kidney function and reduce gastrointestinal damage and inflammation in those with chronic kidney disease.

4May Reduce Cholesterol Level

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Activated carbon is effective in reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride level, says research. It has the ability to bind the bile acids in the gut and prevent its absorption in the body.

The body needs cholesterol to produce bile acids, which helps in the digestion and absorption of fat. Thus, the liver uses cholesterol in the blood, which decreases the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood.

Activated carbon is as effective as cholestyramine (medication that works by removing bile acid from the body), in lowering the blood cholesterol levels.

5Water Filtration

People have long used activated charcoal as a natural water filter. Just as it does in the intestines and stomach, activated charcoal can interact with and absorb a range of toxins, drugs, viruses, bacteria, fungus, and chemicals found in water.

In commercial settings, such as waste-management centers, operators often use activated carbon granules for one part of the filtration process. Dozens of water filtration products are also designed for at-home use, using carbon cartridges to purify water of toxins and impurities.

6Reduces Flatulence and Gas

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Activated charcoal is effective in reducing flatulence and bloating and abdominal cramps associated with it. It reduces the production of gas in the colon and further decreases breath hydrogen levels.

One study observed that, intake of activated charcoal after consuming a gas producing meal reduced the number of flatus events and breath hydrogen levels.


Activated charcoal: 8 uses and what the science says

Given its use as a gastrointestinal absorbent in overdoses and poisonings, it follows that some people might propose activated charcoal as a treatment for diarrhea.

In a 2017 review of recent studies on the use of activated charcoal for diarrhea, researchers concluded that it might be able to prevent bacteria and drugs that can cause diarrhea from being absorbed into the body by trapping them on its porous, textured surface.

While noting it as a suitable treatment for diarrhea, the researchers also pointed out that activated charcoal had few side effects, especially in comparison with common antidiarrheal medications.

8Skin infection

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Around the world, many different traditional medicine practitioners use activated charcoal powder made from coconut shells to treat soft tissue conditions, such as skin infections.

Activated charcoal may have an antibacterial effect by absorbing harmful microbes from wounds. Several are available commercially.

9Skin Lightening Agent

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Activated charcoal is added to various skin care products. It acts as a cleanser and removes excess oil and dead skin cells from your skin.

It further helps in skin lightening and cleans the skin pores by killing the bacteria present on the skin.

DIY Activated Charcoal Face Mask

What you need:

  • 1 tsp bentonite clay
  • 1 tsp activated charcoal powder
  • 2 tsp water
  • ½ tsp raw honey
  • 1 drop each tea tree and lavender essential oil (optional)


  • In a small glass bowl add the water and essential oil.
  • Sprinkle the bentonite clay over the top of the water mixture in the bow. Allow it to absorb for about 10 seconds before adding the rest of the ingredients. This makes the mixture easier to combine.
  • Use a small rubber spatula to mash and mix everything together. The clay will want to stay lumpy, so this takes a few minutes to mix thoroughly. You’ll have enough mixture here for two face masks.
  • Once your mask is mixed, apply it liberally to your face. Allow it to dry, about 10 minutes, before washing off with soap and warm water.