Activated charcoal: How to make activated carbon at home

activated charcoal or activated carbon

Activated charcoal is also known as activated carbon and you can easily make this special type of charcoal at home using hardwood or charcoal. It has many benefits and uses for health, in emergencies, and for beauty.  When used for health, activated is commonly used for removing toxins and poisons from the body. At home, it is used for purifying polluted air, for beauty, activated carbon is used as a toothpaste for whitening of teeth.

It is a good first aid item that should be found in our homes especially where there are kids in cases of poisoning. This is why knowing how to make activated carbon at home is very good.

Table of Contents

What is activated charcoal (activated carbon) 

Activated charcoal is also called activated carbon; it is a type of charcoal that has been made to be more porous. The spaces within the charcoal have been increased so as to absorb more toxins or gases than the regular or usual charcoal.  This type of charcoal appears similar to the usual charcoal but has more absorption capability because it is “activated”.

Is it safe to take activated carbon?

Not only that it is safe, it can save people’s life from a drug overdose, gas poisoning, purifies the environment, and also removes toxins.

How does it work?

Activated carbon can absorb a variety of drugs and chemicals in the stomach by binding the drug or chemical in its porous spaces thereby neutralizing the effect of the drug or toxin. This is different from regular charcoal which has fewer pore spaces and therefore can only absorb a few toxins.

Activated charcoal uses

  • Used for filtering gas (that is, in making a gas mask to help filter toxic gases)
  • It is used as a room freshener because it removes bad odor from the room, fridge, or any confined space.
  • For teeth whitening. (used as a toothpaste for teeth cleaning)
  • To remove mouth odor
  • As facial masque to remove blocked sweat pores that can cause acne (it is therefore used for treating acne).
  • For treating stomach upset caused by bloating.
  • It can be applied to an injured part with bandages to help in the healing of wounds.

How to make activated charcoal at home

To make activated charcoal, you’ll first need to make regular homemade charcoal first, by burning hardwood or fibrous plant material in the presence of limited or reduced oxygen. Then you can proceed to add activating chemicals, like lemon juice or calcium chloride to activate the charcoal. You can use coconut shells, hardwood, olive peat, or coal to make your charcoal at home.

Making the charcoal

  • Create a safe environment for burning your wood, then begin assembling hardwoods or coconut shells, just enough for the amount of carbon you need.
  • Make sure the firewood for burning the coconut shells or hardwood is enough.
  • Put the wood or shells you want to convert into charcoal in a pot
  • Add kerosene into the pot and start the fire; make sure the lid is covered in such a way that only a small amount of oxygen goes into the pot.
  • As it burns start another fire under the pot so that you have two: one converting the wood in the pot to charcoal and the other (under the pot) supplying the needed heat.

When all the hardwoods are completely burned and have turned dark and you no longer notice smoke or gas coming out of the fire, your homemade charcoal is ready. You can bypass all these steps and start making your activated carbon if you have charcoal already.

Always remember to rinse the charcoal before using it to remove dust, sand, or chemicals on it.

Activating the charcoal

  • Ensure the charcoal is dry; then ground using a mortar and pestle into small sizes or powder. You can use a powerful blender to achieve the same result.
  • Transfer into a jar or container and add 300 ml of lemon juice. You can dissolve 100 grams of calcium chloride in 300 ml of water (the container can get hot due to the reaction of water with the calcium chloride).
  • Cover and allow to rest for 24 hours.
  • After 24 hours, strain the charcoal and rinse with water then spread on a baking tray.
  • Dry in the oven or a dehydrator until it is completely dried. The heat together with the lemon juice combine to activate your charcoal.
  • Remove from the oven or dehydrator and allow it to cool then blend into desired sizes. For use as a facial masque, for treating poisoning, or as a toothpaste, blend it into fine activated charcoal powder.

How to store or preserve your activated charcoal

You can preserve it in an airtight container to prevent air from getting to it because it can absorb gases in the environment when left opened; this can reduce the strength or efficiency of your activated charcoal.

How to use activated charcoal

You can use it as a powder or make a paste for the facial masque. It can be made into a paste (just as toothpaste) and use for brushing the teeth for teeth whitening. Activated charcoal can be placed in a small bag and kept in a place where you want to neutralize the bad odor. There are many uses of activated charcoal.

Side effects

One side effect is constipation, other activated charcoal side effects may include slowing of the intestinal tract that may also cause blockages in the intestinal tract. It may cause dehydration also.