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Activated Charcoal: Is it Healthy or Harmful?


Where/when did charcoal become a health aid?

Charcoal has been used for centuries in both eastern and western medicine as a powerful detoxifier. It dates back to 1550 BC.   It’s a very porous compound so you can think of it like a sponge that attaches to toxins and bacteria.  For this reason it is often used in emergency rooms when people have swallowed poison or overdosed.

How is activated charcoal different from what you use for BBQs?

Please don’t eat BBQ charcoal!  Activated charcoal is made from heating coconut shells to a really high heat until they are carbonized.  It’s then processed with steam or hot air until it becomes this black porous compound.

Are any concerns with consumption?

The biggest concern with ingesting it is that it doesn’t differentiate between good and bad.  Meaning it will soak up everything.  That includes the vitamins and minerals from food or supplements as well as medications.  So if you are going to consume charcoal and are taking medications you want to wait at least 2 hours after taking your medication.


What are some different applications? Should we try it or skip it?

First Aid – this should be in everyone’s first aid kit and 100% in your travel bag.  It can also be used topically for spider bites or things along those lines.

Food & Drink – It’s not going to hurt you in moderation, but for the most part I would skip it

Beauty – I would say try it.  Acne and body odor are caused by bacteria so in theory

Air & Water Purification – absolutely!  It’s very effective and the main component in brita type filters so you are probably already using it.

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