What’s all the fuss about activated charcoal?

Charcoal Toothbrush

What is it?

Activated charcoal, also known as activated or pure carbon, is a fine black, odourless, tasteless powder. It is made by heating wood or coconut shells to a high temperature, usually around 1000 degrees, in an airless environment. It is then reheated with steam to break it down into a fine porous powder. Grin charcoal-infused toothbrushes use Binchotan charcoal, a high-quality charcoal made from oak.

How does it work?

Activated charcoal is effective in trapping toxins and chemicals through the process of adsorption. Adsorption is the reaction where elements bind to a solid material or surface. The charcoal or carbon has a negative electric charge which bonds to positively charged toxins and chemicals. In addition to this activated charcoal has a very large surface area. One teaspoon of activated charcoal powder (about 3.3gms) has about the same surface area as a football field. This means it has tremendous potential to adsorb large amounts of gases, toxins, poisons, or pollutants.

How is it used?

Charcoal use has been documented as far back as 1550 B.C. but it has only recently returned to popularity for its detoxifying benefits. Today, activated charcoal can also be found in capsules and infused into materials.

Here are six ways that activated charcoal can be used for detoxifying.


To counteract poisoning from household products or alcohol. Charcoal can rapidly bind to poisons in the body which helps to prevent the chemicals spreading throughout. The charcoal is then excreted without harm to the body. If poisoning is suspected contact poison control for instructions and proper dosing before administering charcoal. New Zealand: 0800 POISON (0800 764 766) 

To relieve symptoms of insect stings and bites. Mix charcoal powder into a paste using water and apply to affected area.

Personal care:

To purify skin. Activated charcoal purifies skin by drawing oil and dirt from clogged pores.  Mix charcoal powder into a paste with water and apply to your face and décolletage and detoxify your skin. You can also purchase soaps and cleansers containing charcoal.

To whiten teeth. The charcoal binds to tannins, the compounds found in coffee, tea, tobacco, dark berries, wine, sauces, spices, and other foods that stain teeth, helping to restore the natural whiteness of teeth. It has the added benefit of balancing the pH of the mouth which discourages plaque and the growth of bacteria. Grin charcoal-infused toothbrush is a mess-free way to gain the benefits of charcoal for your teeth.

In your home:

To filter water. Activated charcoal helps to remove impurities such as fluoride, pesticides and chlorine from your drinking water. Charcoal water filters are available and some water bottles also have a built-in charcoal filter. You can often find charcoal in fish tank filters too for the same purpose.

To remove odours. Activated charcoal is one of the best odour neutralisers available. Place a bowl of the powder (where it won’t be knocked over) in areas of the home that need deodorising. This will last for up to two months. You can also find charcoal in filters for vacuum cleaners to help with deodorising.


Interesting fact: In WW1 The first effective filtering activated charcoal gas mask was invented. Even today activated charcoal is used in gas masks.

Charcoal is a fantastic natural way to trap toxins and harmful chemicals, we hope the above provides insight into how it works and how you can use charcoal at home.


If you are ingesting charcoal please read below cautionary information:

Charcoal will bind to any positively charged chemicals and therefore it is important not to ingest charcoal when using medications. If you are taking vitamins or minerals it is best to wait 12 hours before consuming charcoal.

Excessive charcoal consumption, without sufficient water intake, can result in constipation.

See more information here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/charcoal-activated-oral-route/before-using/drg-20070087

Please note activated charcoal is not the same as the charcoal on your BBQ. You can purchase activated charcoal products from reputable retailers.