Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal, aka: activated carbon. What is it? What does it do? And…what on earth would you use it for?

Activated charcoal has been used forever, well, for centuries anyway, since about 1550 B.C. and is well documented for treating medical conditions due to its simply amazing results in all kinds of situations. No wonder they still use it in emergency rooms today.

It is a fine, black powder that is odorless, tasteless, and non-toxic. Just one tablespoon has the same surface area as two football fields, or about 115 yoga studios combined (roughly :)). It binds itself to toxins and chemicals and helps remove them from the body. It’s like an escort. Not the dating kind, but like a security guard removing an intruder from a building.

Toxins are attracted to activated charcoal like a yogi to their mat at Savasana. Here are a few things you can use it for everyday:

Activated Charcoal Medicine of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Native Americans

Whiten Teeth and Remove Plaque

Ever wonder how ancient people took care of their teeth without toothbrushes?

They used carbon!

To use activated charcoal for your teeth, just take one charcoal capsule and open it up carefully and put it in a glass. Then, put a little toothpaste on your toothbrush and dip it in the charcoal. Add a little bit of water and start brushing your teeth. It is best to use a natural toothpaste, like Tom’s of Maine™ or Nature’s Gate®, or another natural brand to avoid harmful ingredients. You can also use loose charcoal powder instead of capsules.

Your mouth will be totally black from the carbon and your sink might get messy, but your teeth will be dazzling white! Be sure to check out some of these tutorials on

You can also take the charcoal from the capsule and put it in a small glass of water and swish it around your mouth if you don’t want to use a toothbrush, but I like the toothbrush option better.

“No substance removes acidic plaque from the teeth like Carbon. It will greatly clean your teeth and help remove stains on the teeth (especially stains derived from drinking coffee)”.   (source:

A bottle of activated charcoal capsules usually costs somewhere around $8 USD – much cheaper than any other method of teeth whitening out there and not as toxic.

Make a Face Mask

Help remove any impurities from your pores by making a charcoal face mask.  This can also help with acne.

Here’s what you need: 

1 teaspoon activated charcoal

1 teaspoon water or rosewater

5 drops tea tree oil

1 pinch sea salt

small glass or container

Here’s what you do:

Mix all the ingredients together

Apply a thin layer all over your face

Allow the mask to dry completely and then wash off


Odor Remover

Activated charcoal works on all kinds of odors:

Use it in the refrigerator to absorb odors.

Use it in the freezer for fresher tasting and smelling ice.

Use it in trashcans, diaper pails, sports bags and more.

How do you use it?  Check out this great product that makes it super simple:  Fridge-It Natural Activated Charcoal Odor Absorber

Water Filter

Carbon filters are one of the best options to filter drinking water and are sold as Block Carbon Filters. They remove chemicals, bacteria, pesticides, parasites, heavy metals, and VOC’s (Volatile Organic Chemicals). The most common type and best recommended filter is the Berkey. It can even be used while camping to filter river water for drinking!


Spider Bites

The first goal for treating spider bites is to eliminate any toxins that they have infected you with. The most toxic spider bites are from a black widow or a brown recluse and require immediate medical help. But you can start the process as soon as you are aware that you have been bitten.

What to do:

Make a poultice with water and activated charcoal and apply to the bite, covering it with a bandage. Repeat the process as necessary.

This seems to be the only effective remedy found to pull out the toxins of a brown recluse spider, but if you get bitten by one these guys please seek medical attention as well.

A Few More Simply Amazing Everyday Uses

Use it in the event of ingesting poisonous substances/food poisoning.

Use it in the event of mercury poisoning.

Use it in case of ….ahem…. excess eggnog, margarita’s or other alcoholic libations.

 Take 1 or 2 capsules with water to help the body detoxify these substances.

So there you have it. Activated charcoal might not be magic – but it’s certainly magical!

Note: Charcoal itself is not toxic, but it should NOT be taken with other medications as it will block the absorption of them.

This article was contributed by Jane Hill – fierce Bikram Yogi, lover of all things natural, and my best yoga buddy. Look for more articles by Jane in the Off the Mat Chats section of Views From the Podium coming soon!

(Photo credits:,,

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