Everything You Need to Know About Activated Charcoal

Last Updated on July 15, 2018 by Paula

A few days ago, I talked about this weird black mask my sister keeps using (even if it is not Halloween!) which she claims does wonders for her oily skin. Well, I do want to know about weird beauty stuff so after a careful research, here is everything you need to know about activated charcoal.

To summarize, this is what you will learn:


What is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal have become so big lately, and it is extremely popular with people who are into more natural health options.

They use activated charcoal for things like teeth whitening, facial mask (like I posted a few days ago), and facial scrub.

But did you know that activated charcoal was not originally used for health and beauty purposes?

Activated charcoal is a type of activated carbon processed into a powder substance.  Its original purpose is to help trap the toxins that are in the body and eventually flush them out, thereby effectively preventing the body from absorbing these toxins.

Where does activated charcoal come from?

Most activated charcoal used for healthy and beauty products come from natural sources like coconut shells, coconut husks, and other nut shells.

What is activated charcoal’s Original Use?

A long time ago, when people thought this black thing has no place in natural beauty, activated charcoal has been used to help people struggling with alcohol and drug overdose.  It has also been used for alcohol poisoning.

This is because activated charcoal stops the toxins from alcohol and drugs from affecting the body too much.  For some time, it has been used in trauma centers.

Aside from activated charcoal’s medical uses, it has also been successful in curing hangovers and bloating.

Different Ways to use activated charcoal

Now let’s talk about using activated charcoal for natural health and beauty!  Did you know about these beauty uses for activated charcoal?

Activated Charcoal can help in whitening teeth.

Using activated charcoal to whiten teeth is one of the most popular and well-known uses for activated charcoal.  Case in point, when I look for a toothpaste, I look for this brand which has the word charcoal on it.

Heck, I also shop for black toothbrush just because it has the word activated charcoal in it!

That’s how legendary activated charcoal is for teeth-whitening and stain removal.

But does activated charcoal work for teeth whitening?

Activated charcoal works by balancing the pH levels in your mouth.  By balancing the pH levels, oral health is improved.  In addition,  with activated charcoal’s legendary reputation for removing toxins, activated charcoal is believed to help in absorbing the plaque on your teeth which is the main cause of those ugly teeth stains.

As with any natural teeth whitening procedures, this may not seem perfect for everyone.  But since using activated carbon has no serious side effects, whitening teeth by using activated charcoal is definitely worth a try!

How to Use it for teeth whitening (Do not use your regular toothbrush!)

If you want to give activated charcoal a try for whitening your teeth, you should have a toothbrush you use only for this purpose. It is going to stain and will be hard to clean out, so don’t use your regular toothbrush.

  • Open your charcoal container
  • Dip your specially-reserved for activated charcoal toothbrush in water.
  • Give it a shake so it would not have lots of water in it.
  • Dip into the activated charcoal.
  • Brush your teeth as you normally would with ordinary toothpastes.
  • Remember to pay special attention to the fronts of your teeth (because that’s where we want our pearly whites to really shine!)
  • Rinse your mouth until everything is completely clear (because – and this happens, I swear! – if you don’t, you can walk around, spend your day in class with some black thingie between your teeth.  Not soo pretty, I assure you.

By the way, be extra careful with charcoal when brushing your teeth with it, since it might stain your clothing . It is a good idea to wear a t-shirt you don’t care too much about.

It Helps With Skin and Hair

Activated charcoal has some great uses for beauty, including your skin and hair. You can actually buy natural products for your skin or hair that has activated charcoal in it, or you can make your own with the charcoal powder.

The exact same powder you buy for other uses, including teeth whitening, can usually be used for making your own product. Since it is a powder, it is good to add to different DIY face scrubs, adding in some other natural products as well. You can also make your own mask by adding natural ingredients like honey and essential oils, or just water to turn it into a paste.

You can also add a tiny bit to your shampoo and use it for your hair, but be careful if you have light hair. There is a slight risk of it causing discoloration.

Use it to Detox Your Body

As you probably have guessed, activated charcoal can also be used to help detox your body. Its ability to stop toxins from further damaging your body is incredibly useful. There are capsules of activated charcoal that you can try taking in order to help detox your body, or you can remove toxins by applying the powder to your skin after mixing it with water to create a paste. Some people are adding the power to juice or lemonade, and calling it black lemonade.

Just make sure you talk to your doctor before ingesting this, and be wary of other medications you are taking along with the charcoal.

Reduce Gas and Bloating

According to the Journal of Gastroenterology, you can also try taking activated charcoal if you are experiencing gas or bloating. You should talk to your doctor or a health practitioner to discuss dosing, but you typically want to take it before a meal that might produce, as opposed to after you already have gas.

Make sure you are drinking plenty of water with, before, and after taking the activated charcoal.

Help Prevent a Hangover

When you start researching activated charcoal, one thing you will probably notice is that it is often advertised as something to help prevent hangovers. People are running to their local health food store to pick up charcoal pills that they take before drinking to try to prevent their hangover.

There have been several studies, with mixed results, but it can be worth a try. It has shown to lower blood alcohol levels or the effects of them in some people, as the charcoal helps with alcohol absorption. Others did not see a significant difference.

It should not be used as a way to encourage you to drink heavier, however, so practice caution and always drink responsibly.

  1. Tips for Using Activated Charcoal

If you are planning on trying out activated charcoal to see if it works for you, the following tips can be useful.

Be Careful With Other Medications

Activated charcoal has not been studied enough with other medications to know if it’s dangerous, so it is best that you practice caution. Not only should your doctor know if you are considering taking it, especially by ingestion, but you don’t want to take it with other medications. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Watch Out for the Mess

Charcoal in powder form can get very messy, so be careful! If you are using it for a face mask, body scrub, or to whiten your teeth, never wear your nice clothes when using it. Even if you are super careful, there is still a risk of getting it on your clothes. Either wear old clothes you wear when dying your hair or painting, or just wear a towel or bath robe.

It is a good idea to have an old towel in your bathroom when using the charcoal for this use specifically, since that might get stained as well. Also be careful about spilling it on your sink or countertops, as some materials might stain.

Don’t Ingest it Daily

While activated charcoal has tone of uses for removing various bacteria and toxins from your body, it isn’t good to use on a daily basis if you are ingesting it. While it does stop toxins, it could also keep good nutrients from being absorbed in your body as well. Too much activated charcoal in your body could actually make you ill from malnutrition. Best to use it only when absolutely necessary.

Drink Plenty of Water With it

Another tip to follow when suing activated charcoal by ingestion is to drink a lot of water when taking it. The powder can be hard to go down and get stuck in your throat if you aren’t careful. Drink lots of water before, during, and after using the charcoal.

Rinse Your Mouth Well

Also be careful to rinse your mouth really well any time you brush your teeth to whiten them with activated charcoal, or you take it by mouth with water. You should keep rinsing your mouth until you can swish water, spit it out, and it is completely clear. Depending on how much you had of it in your mouth or on your teeth, this can take a few minutes of rinsing.

  1. Precautions and Side Effects

Before finishing up this report, it is really important that you use activated charcoal safely. This goes for any type of natural remedy that is not recommended directly by your doctor or a natural health practitioner. While it has not shown to have severe side effects, the studies are still in their beginning stages.

Potential Side Effects

The good news is that the side effects aren’t too extreme. They can also vary by person, and depending on what you used the charcoal for. Naturally, a risk for using it for whitening your teeth is that it might make your tongue a little black, especially if you are brushing your tongue with it or not rinsing properly. You can reduce the risk by only brushing your teeth, never your tongue, and rinsing well each time.

There are some other side effects people have reported, which include

Black or darker stools when ingesting the charcoal
Having vomiting or diarrhea

If you are using it too much, it could lead to gastrointestinal blockages as well. This is why you need to pay close attention to the proper dosage if you are ingesting the charcoal for health purposes.

Risks to be Aware of

Activated charcoal when used for health or beauty is typically from all-natural sources like coconut husks, but you should still practice caution and know of the risks. Here are some things to keep in mind:

You should not be taking activated charcoal with medications, unless directed by your doctor.

Avoid ingestion of charcoal during pregnancy or while breastfeeding without talking to your doctor first.

Do not give activated charcoal to children without asking your pediatrician.

Take only small doses first to see how your body reacts.

As long as you follow these simple guidelines, you can avoid any potential risks when using or ingesting activated charcoal. In general, natural remedies are meant to have very few side effects and risks, but you should always be extra careful when trying anything new.


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