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Is activated charcoal safe and eco-friendly?

Posted By May

Normally we get squeamish when we think of rough charcoal in our food and hygiene products. But appearances can be deceiving. Once we dig a little deeper, we often find good things in the most peculiar places.

Lets explore the murky yet alluring shades of Activated Charcoal. It has been getting more popular lately as manufacturers integrate it with their products, ranging from food, medicine and skincare. Time to shed some light on this wonder ingredient.

What is activated charcoal?

Simply put, activated charcoal is any kind of carbon-based product (a fine, odorless, black powder) that is heated, becoming a (figurative) sponge that soaks things up, according to Dr. Shripal Bhavsar at the Integris Southwest Medical Center. This soaking/binding characteristic is technically called adsorption, where substances bind to the activated charcoal as it exits the system.

How is it commonly used?

Because of this, it is mostly used in the field of medicine for treating drug overdose or as antidotes to poison. It is not a cure-all though, as it doesnt bind with certain substances such as alcohol. But it pretty much does the job for the most part.

It also has industrial uses such as for water filtration, among others. In households, it is now making its way into our food, toothpastes and skincare products.

Is activated charcoal harmful to humans?

It is generally safe to use and no adverse/harmful effects have been noted. Although science has yet to provide conclusive proof of most of the industrys miraculous claims, it still is quite safe with great potential benefits. You just need to know how to use it to best fit your lifestyle.

As a sponge-like substance, activated charcoal is not able to distinguish between good and bad chemicals. So it isnt a good idea to ingest it with medicine, for instance. At the end of the day, the best recourse is to always consult your doctor and nutritionist on the dose and frequency of taking activated charcoal in your diet. Also be mindful that ordinary grilling charcoal is not the same as activated carbon/charcoal, in case we might confuse one for the other.

It can also give you a refreshing detox experience for your skincare ritual. Just know that active charcoal might also adsorb the good oils from the skin and is an abrasive/exfoliant as well. So be sure to use it sparingly (about once or twice a week, depending on the product) and couple it with other skin-nourishing products such as daily lotions, moisturizers and serums.

For active charcoal toothpastes, make sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly until it is crystal clear to spit out all the excess charcoal residue.


Is it eco-friendly and sustainable?

There are several reasons to love activated carbon/charcoal, and its benefits to the environment is just one of them.

In 2019, Mi Hyung and co-authors published their analysis of the environmental impacts of activated carbon made of wood waste in a science journal. They found that producing activated carbon reduces global warming impacts greatly compared to just dumping the wood waste in a landfill.

Forest denudation is always a concern when it comes to using wood for products. To be even more eco-friendly, look for bamboo activated charcoal. Bamboo is more abundant and grows back fast compared to other trees, making bamboo a more environmentally-sustainable material for activated charcoal.

Well, what are you waiting for? Spoil yourself with a relaxing detox routine with these best-selling active charcoal products today:

1. LYSEDIA Liftage Purifying Mask And Scrub With Charcoal-Clay

It has a luscious texture and offers to gently cleanse and eliminate impurities. Binchô-tan charcoal and white kaolin clay have exfoliation and purifying properties.

2.Bathorium CRUSH Charcoal Garden Detox

Here's an organic bath soak with active bamboo charcoal that helps detoxify the skin from toxins and free radicals. Organic activated bamboo charcoal adsorbs toxins and free radicals from the skin, while the spicy oils of basil and calming lavender soothe the mind. Epsom salts and french sea salts relax your aching muscles, while skin-softening coconut milk envelops your entire body. Kiss that boring bath goodbye.

3. Bathorium Konjac Bamboo Charcoal Body Sponge

Hand harvested asian Konjac root that is naturally micro-antibacterial and uses the bath water or body wash to create a creamy exfoliating lather. Naturally antibacterial, it has no bacteria build up like traditional loofas or sponges. Bamboo charcoal helps to adsorb impurities while it washes skin. Oversized konjac creates a quality lather feel. Just add body wash directly to the sponge and wash from head to toe in circular motions.

4. Herbivore Botanicals Bamboo Charcoal Cleansing Bar Soap

Bamboo Charcoal has been used for centuries in the East. The Japanese use it regularly for everything, from filtering and purifying drinking water to brushing their teeth. When used in skincare, activated Bamboo Charcoal does wonders to deeply cleanse and detoxify. Drawing impurities and toxins from deep within your pores with its powerful absorption properties, it gives an amazing deep clean. Bamboo Charcoal is gentle yet effective, and works especially well to clean and care for oily, combination, and blemish-prone skin types. Each bar is unique and hand-crafted with love.


Kulkarni, Sweta V.; Gupta, Arun K.; Bhawsar, Shubham. (2017). Formulation and evaluation of activated charcoal peel off mask. International Journal of Pharmacy & Life Sciences. Vol. 8 Issue 5, p17-17. 1p.

Mi Hyung Kim, In Tae Jeong, Sang Bum Park, Jung Wk Kim. (2019). Analysis of environmental impact of activated carbon production from wood waste. Environmental Engineering Research 2019; 24(1): 117-126. Published online: June 27, 2018. DOI:

Sanchez, N., Fayne, R., Burroway B., (2020). Charcoal: An ancient material with a new face. Clinics in Dermatology. Volume 38, Issue 2. Pages 262-264. ISSN 0738-081X.


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