How Does Activated Charcoal Work? Posted on 11 Mar 11:26

How Does Activated Charcoal Work?

Activated Charcoal (or Activated Carbon, Bamboo Charcoal, Binchotan, Bone Char or Bio Char) is a magnificent product that Mother Nature provides us all and that does so many wonderful things.  Let me share some of them, and also how Activated Charcoal works to clean, detoxify and help heal us.

First, what is Activated Charcoal?

We’ve mentioned in other blog posts just what Activated Charcoal (AC) is, but to reiterate, AC is an actual charred substance like bamboo, coconut shells, or hardwood.  It’s burned to a black, charcoal state, just like your fireplace chars the wood in it.

Amazingly, this burned material becomes mainly carbon after being charred and in this simple state, charcoal has some cleansing properties for air and water.  At this level, it’s even helpful for clearing certain colors from liquids.

What does it mean to "activate" the charcoal?

At the charred state, the carbon is tainted with some ash or tars which need to be removed.  This regular carbon is not “Activated” until it is processed further.

How is that done?  One of two ways, generally.

  1. Steam-infused Activated Charcoal

  2. Chemically-affected Activated Carbon

The steam-infused method takes the carbon (charcoal) and grinds it into a pre-determined particle size and then pushes that powder into giant kilns.  In these kilns, the temperature is typically raised to over 1100 degrees!  Then, steam is injected into the kiln.  This has the effect of “Activating” the charcoal.

The Chemical process is slightly different.  Here, chemists take certain chemicals like phosphoric acid, or citric acid, and coat the charcoal before it’s pulverized into powder.  This powder is pushed into the kilns like the steam-infused process, however, since the acids affect the carbon, a lower temperature is required to “Activate” the charcoal, usually 700-900 degrees. 

So, the process of activating the charcoal CANNOT be done at home, in your oven or grill.  You simply cannot get enough heat to make the charcoal break down properly and become activated.

 What’s so great about “activating” the charcoal?

Adsorption (not Absorption, like with sponges) is a process where a substance can attract another to it, and hold on to it without actually changing itself in the process.  This is what the “activation” of the charcoal products are really doing.  Until the charred substance is activated, it has limited ability to attract other substances.

Here is a more scientific explanation:
Adsorption is the adhesion of atoms, ions, or molecules from a gas, liquid, or dissolved solid to a surface. This process creates a film of the adsorbate on the surface of the adsorbent.

Think of a tiny cage-like structure (microscopic-sized in this case) and picture it bumping up against other tiny molecules, bacteria, and even some viruses.  When they come in contact, they adsorb onto the activated charcoal and become easier for your body to eliminate.  This is the miracle of activated carbon!  It can remove many things you don’t want, without taking many of the good things you do want!

Great Uses For Activated Carbon

Here’s a list of just a few of the amazing things you can do with activated charcoal:

  • Whiten teeth (BlackMagic does this really well!)
  • Detox from poisons
  • Capture bacteria
  • Help heal wounds
  • Clean water
  • Clean air
  • Remove pesticides from soil
  • Clean vegetables
  • Remove odors from the air
  • Remove odors from liquids
  • Filter EMFs
  • Help stop bee-stings
  • Stop intestinal gas
  • Stop bloating

This list grows and grows as people find more uses all the time for this ancient, powerful gift from nature.

We hope you use activated charcoal in your home and with your family.


To Your Health,

Dave and Erin

P.S.  What uses have you found for AC?  Send us an email, and if we use it on our site, we will send you a free tube of BlackMagic Activated Charcoal Toothpaste.

BlackMagic - All the YES!  None of the Mess.