Do you know of any substances that can whiten your teeth, help you get over food poisoning, prevent a hangover, and reduce acne?


Well, let me introduce you to Activated Charcoal!

Uses for Activated Charcoal

Uses for Activated Charcoal

Activated Charcoal is a processed version of common charcoal, which is made from peat, coal, wood, coconut shell or petroleum. To create activated charcoal, raw charcoal is exposed to oxidizing agents, like air, steam or oxygen, at high temps, which cause the charcoal to erode. This extensive erosion creates a substantial surface area. We’re talking very substantial surface area: one teaspoon (3.3gms) of activated charcoal has approximately the same surface area as a football field!

So how does this incredible surface area benefit us? It gives activated charcoal the ability to trap enormous amounts of chemicals, thereby potentially preventing your body from absorbing them. Another great quality of activated charcoal is that the charcoal itself is not absorbed into our bodies. The charcoal enters our bodies, attracts and absorbs toxins and nasty chemicals, then carries them out of the body.

Teeth Whitening:

As you can see above, activated charcoal is indeed, very black. I know that it seems counter-intuitive to put a black, staining substance on your pearly whites, but stay with me. All of those delicious drinks that can unfortunately stain your teeth (tea, coffee, wine) have these molecules called tannins. Our good friend, activated charcoal, does a terrific job of absorbing these tannins from your teeth, without damaging the enamel.

I have tried a few commercial teeth whiteners, bleaching trays, and home remedies, and I can say that activated charcoal is the easiest and most effective method for teeth whitening. Yes, it is even better than my homemade teeth whitener. I have used it 4 times, and each time I use it, my teeth are a shade whiter. It is truly an astounding difference!

How to whiten teeth: Grab your clean toothbrush and run it under water to moisten. Dip toothbrush into activated charcoal powder and use small, gentle circles to brush the charcoal into your teeth. Do this for 1-2 minutes, then carefully spit and rinse mouth well. *Note of caution* It is black, and messy, and will get all over your bathroom sink if you’re not careful. Have a towel handy for clean up 😉

Treat Food Poisoning:

There are really very few things in life worse than food poisoning. I have encountered this ailment on a few occasions, and felt like I was going to die. It is miserable (<- understatement). It is possible that activated charcoal may help in alleviating food poisoning symptoms! Many hospitals actually have activated charcoal on hand for patients who have ingested toxins (source). 

Note of caution: before using this medicine, call a poison control center, your doctor, or an emergency room for advice.

Digestive Issues:

If you get an upset stomach after eating gas-inducing foods, try taking some activated charcoal next time. Some studies have shown that activated charcoal may decrease flatulence (source). 


I have pretty much eliminated most toxic household cleaners from my home at this point (here are recipes to make your own non-toxic versions!), but I feel much safer having activated charcoal at home, in case of an accidental poisoning from medicine, poison or other chemicals. Activated charcoal helps draw out certain harmful toxins from the body and bloodstream, and could be life-saving (source).

It is important to note that activated charcoal will not work on every poisoning, and can make some situations worse (such as ingestion of gasoline and some acids). If you suspect you or your child has ingested something toxic, call poison control immediately or go to the ER. The poison control, a physician or 911 personnel can tell you if activated charcoal can be used, and can give you accurate dosing.

Acne Treatment:

If you remember, toxin removal is kind of activated charcoal’s “thing”. This homemade face mask may help remove bacteria from the face, which may help clear up occurrences of acne:

  • 1 tsp aloe vera gel
  • 1 tsp water or rosewater
  • 1 tsp activated charcoal
  • 5 drops melaleuca (tea tree) essential oil
  • a pinch of sea salt

Combine all ingredients until a consistent mask is formed. Apply to clean face and allow to dry. Rinse away and you will be left with clean and refreshed skin!

Prevent a Hangover:

It is rumored that activated charcoal can prevent a hangover, if one capsule is taken before bed time. I haven’t found any medical articles that support this, but I may, or may not have a friend who has tested out this home remedy, and found it to be highly reliable! 

A few other details to remember:

*Due to its absorbent nature, activated charcoal will absorb prescribed medicines along with other unwanted toxins. Activated charcoal will render your prescribed medications useless, so do not take this internally if you are currently taking other medications.

*Activated charcoal in large doses can cause dehydration, so remember to drink plenty of water when taking it.

*Activated charcoal can be purchased in powdered form or in capsules. I buy these capsules, and when I want to use the charcoal to whiten my teeth, I simply open the capsules and pour the powder into a small bowl.

Please note: While I did research this information and found credible sites to back up my data, my degree is in business, not medicine. No information on this post or anywhere on my website should be construed as medical advice. You can also read my disclaimer here.

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. Posts may contain affiliate links, which helps me buy supplies to make more great posts to share! Please see my Disclaimer Section for additional information.
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19 Responses to Uses for Activated Charcoal

  1. Stephanie says:

    Hi Andrea,

    I love your blog! I wonder if you can tell me, I take several herbs for menopause such as Royal Maca Root, Dong Quia, along with Milk Thistle, Valerian and Magnesium. Do you think Activated Charcoal will deplete these from my system and bring all my menopause symptoms back? Thanks in advance!

    Stephanie 🙂

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Stephanie,

      I am not sure… I do know that activated charcoal does render many medications ineffective, so I would assume the same could be true with certain herbs as well. I would check with a certified herbalist or your physician before taking it, to be safe!


  2. Hoarybat says:

    Hold on everybody! Yes AC is awesome! Use it for many things! HOWEVER, it aDsorbs IODINE! Iodine is so essential to health and the correct amount needed is lacking in most people. If you use activated carbon internally try to limit it’s use 1 -2 times a week and supplement with Iodine such as LUGOL’s or Nascent etc. basically cleaning out the toxins while keeping essential Iodine in your system.

  3. Rachel says:

    When using the activated charcoal internally, do you just mix it in some water and drink it?

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Rachel,

      The kind of activated charcoal I purchase is in a pill form as a dietary supplement. Just make sure to read the instructions and disclaimers before taking it. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. kimchan says:

    hey,, ahmmm can i use natural aloe vera instead of aloe vera gel for the mask. i don’t know where to get the gel but we have aloe vera in our house….how do i know if i have a reply from you? thanks

  5. surabi says:

    Hi Andrea,
    Thanks for informative post.
    I hail from India, when I was kid and visiting villages, I have seen most of them using charcoal as daily routine to brush teeth


  6. cristy says:

    Hello!I just want to ask if I can use this as poultice for ingrown toe?Since it absorbs toxin,right?My son’s 2 toes have ingrown and we don’t know what to do?Thanks…

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Cristy,

      Sorry to hear your son is having to deal with that 🙁 Elle had toe nail fungus when she was about the same age. Is the toenail infected at all? Certainly, you can try the activated charcoal by rubbing it into the nail and covering it with a bandaid. If it looks infected, you could try diluted tea tree oil (which is how we got rid of Elle’s fungus). You can also try soaking his feet in some warm water with a little bit of vinegar in it.

      • cristy says:

        Thanks Andrea for the reply…Only one side of each toe is infected.I will put directly the AC powder on his nail,without mixing it with water?(Is it right?) Sorry but I’m not familiar with tea tree oil?For the meantime i’ll try soaking his feet in warm water with vinegar,then apply the AC powder…is it ok?Thanks!

        • Andrea says:

          Cristy, I would probably add a little water and make it into a paste. It may stick better. Probably leave it on for an hour or so, then remove it, so his skin doesn’t get raw.

          Tea tree oil is natural and it has strong anti-fungal, antibacterial properties. It was actually recommended by my daughter’s pediatrician to help with nail fungus. You should be able to find it at any health store, and most super stores (Walmart, Target, etc) carry it as well. Hope he gets better!

  7. Sherri says:

    how often should you use activating charcoal as a toogh whitener?

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Sherri,

      I use it a couple times a week, but I know other people have used it on a daily basis, until they were satisfied with the brightness of their teeth.

  8. Lauren Gravert says:

    What if we don’t have aloe Vera gel for the acne mask? Is it easy to get or is there an alternative?

  9. Dawn says:

    Thanks for such an informative post! So many great uses…

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