Activated charcoal also called activated carbon is a very fine black powder that has absolutely no taste. Unlike charcoal used for BBQs activated charcoal is not toxic and has no smell. Recently activated charcoal has become very popular, it’s widely available sold in face masks, toothpaste and even at restaurants in lemonade and ice-cream.
Activated charcoal is usually made from coconut shells or hardwood, other sources are peat, coal or petroleum. The material is then treated with heat and exposing it to gas gives it a pumice-stone structure with hundreds of small pores.
It is a negatively charged substance which attracts positive substances such as heavy metals, moulds, bacteria or viruses. There are different ways how negativ charged activated charcoal draws substances to itself. They are either adsorbed (not absorbed) to the outside of carbon granules activated charcoal, move into the pores or to the interior walls of the carbon.
Activated charcoal is commonly used in the medical field for severe cases of poisoning, drug overdoses and treating anaemia in cancer patients. In most parts of the world it is sold over the counter to treat diarrhea and indigestion.
In the U.A.E. activated charcoal is sold at some pharmacies, but not all of them stock it regularly. I order my gelatine free capsules in a glass jar from iHerb for around 26 dirhams. If you would like to know more about ordering from iHerb please have a look here.
Although activated charcoal has been used as toothpaste for many years in countries like India and Ghana there has not been a lot of research about the microscopic abrasiveness of activated charcoal on tooth enamel. I do not want to promote a product on my blog that I can not stand 100% behind. There is a chance that charcoal may wear away enamel, therefore I would not risk using this product as a tooth whitener until further research has been done.
I also frequently see people use activated charcoal mixed with non-toxic glue saying it is a magic pore cleanser. While I would not put glue on my face, mixing three activated charcoal capsules with 2 tbsp of bentonite clay and a little bit of aloe vera gel makes a great face mask. It is said to remove toxins, bacteria and chemicals from the skin and help to minimise pores.
Especially when ingesting activated charcoal I would rather treat it as a detox than a daily routine. Side effects may include black stool, black tongue, vomiting, excess gas and constipation. I have never had any issues when consuming activated charcoal, but I do not take more than 3 capsules a day.
Black drinks and desserts are getting very popular, charcoal is used in smoothies, juices and ice-cream. Essentially juices offers a charcoal lemonade which is sold at Mawasim. Baraka also offers charcoal lemonade sold at Spinneys and most adnoc petrol stations. I like to make a very easy and delicious charcoal lemonade at home, it’s refreshing and can also be used as a detox. I would always enjoy charcoal in moderation.
2 cups of water
herbs (thyme, rosemary, basil)
1 organic lemon (juice and slice)
1tbsp maple syrup
2 capsules of activated charcoal
pinch of salt (optional)
I mix all the ingredients together with the powder of two capsules (560mg each) of activated charcoal and add ice cubes.