Last updated: August 12, 2021

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Hello! Welcome to the Wellness Guide. In today's article we're going to talk about activated charcoal, that natural ingredient that can have many uses to improve your health, your smile, your skin and even ensure the well-being of your pets. Available in capsules or powder form, activated charcoal is affordable and versatile.

Follow us in this reading and check out the best options of the product, as well as the characteristics that you should pay attention to in order to make the best choice of activated charcoal.




The most important facts

  • Activated carbon is a natural product, obtained from the controlled burning of certain types of wood, coconut, cork or other materials.
  • Because it is a product that will be ingested or used to compose therapies and health or aesthetic treatments, the choice of activated carbon must be careful and meticulous, analyzing mainly the origin and reliability of the product.
  • Always consult your doctor or a specialist before starting the use of activated charcoal. Although it is a natural product, it can cause side effects or drug interactions.

The Best Activated Charcoal: Our Picks

Buying Guide

From filtering water and toxic gases, to aesthetic treatments or the digestive tract, to fighting poisoning or intoxication, activated carbon - in its various forms - has proven its effectiveness.

Affordable and natural, it has applications even in the care of pets such as dogs, cats and fish. Check out our Buying Guide to learn all about this product and know how to choose the ideal version for your intended use.

Moça sorri enquanto aplica máscara facial de carvão ativado

Activated charcoal is the trendy new ingredient for facial masks and beauty treatments
(Source: Andriy Popov / 123rf.com)

What is activated charcoal?

Activated carbon is a form of pure carbon, a type of very porous coal, with the property of absorbing and retaining various types of gases, liquids and impurities inside its pores.

The activated vegetable carbon is obtained from the controlled burning with low oxygen content of certain woods and other materials such as coconut shells, babassu coconut, palm kernel, bamboo, cork, among others.

It is widely used as an air and water filter, but it also has therapeutic properties for the body, the digestive tract and the skin. There is also animal activated charcoal, obtained through the controlled burning of ox bones or other animals, although this version is less popular.

Did you know that activated charcoal was already used for therapeutic purposes by several ancient peoples, such as the Egyptians and Greeks? There are indications that the Native American Indians also used activated charcoal to combat poisoning

What is activated carbon used for?

On an industrial scale, the most common applications for activated carbon are in the manufacture of gas filters and water treatment. But on a domestic scale, it can also have several uses. Check out some examples:

  • Against intestinal gas: Adsorbs gas, reducing bloating and intestinal discomfort;
  • Against intoxication: In emergency situations it can combat intoxication with chemical products or food;
  • Purify water: Pesticides, traces of industrial waste and some chemical residues can be filtered from water with activated carbon.
  • Teethwhitener: Removes stains from teeth if used 2-3 times a week, directly when brushing.
  • In detox diet: Eliminates toxins from the body and reduces swelling;
  • Pophilaxis: Prevents infections;
  • Oral health: removes bacterial plaque and helps prevent bad breath;
  • Liver protection: Prevents the absorption of artificial sweeteners, sulphites and toxins, helping to reduce hangover symptoms.

Check out the table for some more advantages and disadvantages of the product:

Advantages
  • Versatile and functional
  • Available in several versions
  • Natural and easily accessible
Disadvantages
  • Has side effects
  • Organic versions have high value

In powder, granules or capsules: Which version of activated charcoal is best?

Activated carbon can be found in various forms for sale, the most common being powdered, granulated or capsules. Each of the versions is more or less suitable for certain purposes and goals of use.

Powdered charcoal, for example, is ideal for making homemade facial masks, besides being widely used as a tooth whitener, also acting to remove plaque and prevent bad breath.

Capsules, on the other hand, are widely used for therapeutic purposes and can come in various dosages. They are useful for humans and animals, fighting intoxication, intestinal tract discomfort, gas and other symptoms.

Granulated carbon, on the other hand, is generally sold in bulk, and is widely used to purify water in filters, aquariums and swimming pools, as well as neutralising odours and filtering gases. Compare the three versions of the product:

In powder Granulated Capsules
Differentials Can be pure or with additives Various granulation levels Specific dosages for ingestion
Uses Facial masks, teeth whitening and other cosmetic uses Air filtration, odour absorption, aquariums, filters, etc. Ingestion to treat poisoning, gases, hangover, etc.
Marketing In small packages In bulk In cartons or bottles

How to use the activated charcoal?

The use of activated charcoal will vary according to the version of the product chosen. Some suggestions are:

Capsules: Take 1 to 2 capsules, 3 times a day, with a maximum of 6 capsules a day for adults and 3 for children. Capsules should not be mixed with saline solution, but may be taken with water or juice. If taking other medications, these should be taken at least 3 hours before the activated charcoal to avoid impairing absorption;

Powder: Brush teeth with powdered activated charcoal 2 to 3 times a week to remove stains and plaque;

Granulated: Add to your aquarium filter to ensure crystal clear water that is always clean and free of organic waste and bad smells.

What are the benefits of activated carbon for pets?

It is not uncommon for pets to end up ingesting products that cause them intoxication or even poisoning.

Activated charcoal can treat pet poisoning or intoxication.

Just like for humans, activated charcoal can be a great ally to treat pet poisoning or intoxication.

If given within 30 minutes of poisoning, activated charcoal binds to the harmful substance in the pet's stomach. This prevents its absorption and delays the action of the toxic, allowing you to save time to take the animal to the veterinarian to receive proper treatment.

It can also be a great ally in the care of your little fish. If used in the aquarium, the activated carbon helps keep the water always clean, removing odors, keeping the water crystal clear, free of organic dirt and heavy metals.

Gatinho brincando em frente a um aquário.

Activated carbon capsules have many benefits for pets. (Source: Irina_kukuts/ pixabay.com)

What should I watch out for when using activated charcoal?

While using activated charcoal may have a number of benefits, it should not be done indiscriminately. After all, like every therapeutic ingredient, the product has side effects.

When pregnant or breastfeeding, it should only be taken under medical supervision.

The main ones are the reduction of intestinal absorption of medications, darkening of the stools, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation. For these reasons activated charcoal is contraindicated for children under 2 years old, patients with intestinal obstruction, gastrointestinal problems or for ingestion of caustic corrosive substances or hydrocarbons.

The use is also not recommended in cases of marked decrease in intestinal transit or recent surgery on the intestine. In pregnancy or breastfeeding, charcoal should only be taken with medical advice.

How much does activated charcoal cost?

The price of activated charcoal will depend a lot on the amount of product in the package - either capsules or powder - in addition to the dosage and concentration, and the brand of the supplement.

You can find very cheap versions of the product, from $ 20 a package with 60 capsules. However, if you look for renowned brands, you will have to spend a larger amount. The best known brands - domestic or imported - sell this supplement for more than R$ 100.

Purchase Criteria: Factors to Compare Types of Activated Carbon

To finish this Review, we'll give you a little more help to make the right choice of activated charcoal to enhance or complement your personal care routine. Check out the list of features you should pay attention to when comparing the types and models of this product:

  • Additives
  • Base Material
  • Dosage
  • Brand

So that there are no doubts, check out the detailing of the characteristics:

Additives

Although most of the activated carbons are sold pure, there are versions enriched with iron or other substances in order to potentiate their effects or give the product other properties.

Check carefully the additives present in the chosen version before buying, and make sure that none of the items in the formula offer any risk of causing allergies or sensitivities.

Base material

As we mentioned earlier, activated charcoal can be of vegetable or animal origin. While vegetable charcoal is obtained through the controlled burning of certain woods, coconut shells, babassu coconuts, palm kernels, bamboo and cork, among other materials, animal charcoal is obtained by burning bones of ox or other animals.

Although the differences between the vegetable versions of activated charcoal are few, the animal versions are impure and denser, therefore, unsuitable for some uses.

Dosage

The dosage of activated charcoal capsules is indicated by the manufacturers in milligrams. There are versions on the market with dosages between 200mg and 1500mg.

Pay attention to the dosage of the chosen product, because it will directly influence the amount of capsules that will be necessary for you to reach the necessary dosage for your treatment.

Products with lower dosages are usually cheaper. However, they may not be the most cost-effective, since it may be necessary to take a larger number of capsules to reach the required dosage.

Brand

Despite being a natural and apparently harmless item, the origin of the activated carbon is important. Products of dubious origin or poor quality may pose a risk to your health. Therefore, prefer products from renowned and reliable brands, known for offering superior quality in their products.

The most reliable brands, in general, are those that present clear information about the product, and prove their efficiency and results through data and test results and clinical research.

(Source of the highlighted image: Monchai Tudsamalee/ 123rf.com)

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