I finally took the leap on testing out activated charcoal and thought I’d report my findings. Activated charcoal is currently taking the health scene by storm with its promises! One of the most popular promises it makes is whiter teeth.
First I looked into what activated charcoal is and what properties it has. It has the look, consistency and feel of the soot you’d find in your fireplace or campfire. But what is so special about it that it’s being packaged and sold to us?
What Exactly IS Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is made of slowly burnt wood or coconut shells. Because it’s incredibly porous, it’s able to remove toxins from your skin, teeth, or even digestive tract when consumed. It actually doesn’t soak up the toxins, but attaches itself to the toxins and carries them away when it’s washed away or digested. It can carry over 1000 times it’s own weight. Powerful stuff! It’s an anti-fungal, antibacterial substance, so it’s great to clear up most any pollutants and toxins it comes in contact with.
After researching my options, I decided to go with a food grade charcoal to run it through my tests. Some charcoals are used for water filtration systems; others are sold in tablet form for ingesting. I wanted to go with a food grade, coconut shell charcoal. I felt the loose powder option was the most practical and could be used in many ways. This activated charcoal has no fillers added and is incredibly fine in texture, so it’s easily blended with other ingredients.
NOT Your Average Beauty Product…
Before you get started on any activated charcoal projects, please know this stuff is messy! Just like that campfire soot, it can make a mess. You don’t want to get it in the grout around your sink or bathroom. Keep your white linens and towels away; I used a dark gray towel for all of my projects. Also, be sure to leave the water running in the sink when rinsing it away, so it doesn’t cling to your sink. Be sure to wear an old shirt or apron, especially for hair and face treatments. Be cautious about breathing in the powder as well. It’s incredibly fine and inhaling it can be dangerous.
Activated charcoal is said to be great for hangovers, as it draws toxins from the body. Similarly, many have performed activated charcoal detox treatments, where they consume activated charcoal in pill form or added it to their beverage of choice. When performing these detoxes, large amounts of water must be consumed in order to prevent dehydration. I did not try this, and I highly recommend consulting your physician or pharmacist before trying this at home.
Activated Charcoal for Stings and Poisons
Although ingesting it is something you may want to speak to your doctor about, topical treatments are much less invasive and still effective! In the summertime, bee and wasp stings are inevitable. An easy treatment is simply combining activated charcoal with water until it creates a paste. Simply apply this paste to the bee or wasp sting as soon as possible. Cover the sting with a cloth or bandage, and reapply the paste as needed throughout the day. The activated charcoal pulls the toxins and venom out of your body removing the pain of the sting. This is a great treatment for little ones as well!
Another poison that creeps up on us in those summer months is poison ivy and poison oak. Unlike a bee sting that lasts a few hours, poison ivy and poison oak can cause pain, blisters, and oozing for days or even weeks.
Use the same combination of activated charcoal and water, blended to create a paste. Just the same, the activated charcoal can help pull the toxins out of the skin. This treatment is best used as soon as possible to maximize benefits.
Activated Charcoal for Teeth Whitening
Activated charcoal naturally bonds to the substances that stain our teeth, such as coffee, tea, nicotine and plaque. It attacks those surface stains on your teeth as it does toxins in the body.
There are a couple of ways it’s recommended to use activated charcoal for teeth whitening. Either way you choose to do it, it’s wise to only do this for short periods of time. Normally a treatment of 3-4 days should last a few months. You don’t want to overdo this treatment, or it can begin to stain your gums.
These are the 3 options on whitening teeth with activated charcoal:
- Wet your toothbrush with water, tap off excess water. Dip toothbrush into activated charcoal. Brush teeth gently for 2-3 minutes. Spit directly into the drain with the water running. Be sure to scrub your tongue clean as well. Do this for 2-3 nights and treatment shouldn’t be needed again for several months.
- Make a paste in small bowl of activated charcoal and water. It should be a paste similar to the consistency of a face mask. Use a q-tip or cotton swab to put the paste onto your teeth. Let it sit on teeth for 2-3 minutes, then spit. Swish water to rinse mouth out. Brush teeth with toothpaste as normal.
- Drop about a teaspoon of activated charcoal into a small cup with a swishable amount of water. Swishable amount meaning similar to what you’d use when using mouthwash. Swish mixture in mouth for 2-3 minutes. Spit and rinse.
Although the first option is the most popular, some worry about how abrasive the charcoal may be on your enamel. If this is a concern, try the other options, which prevents the brushing action. Also, if you do use a toothbrush, brush lightly, no reason to scrub the teeth. The activated charcoal will pull the stains from the surface of the teeth without any harsh scrubbing.
Again, this treatment is best done 2-3 days in a row until you see results. Then take a break from it for about a month. It’s not a treatment that needs to be done continuously. Results are fast!
Activated Charcoal for skin treatments
I love a good face mask and body scrub, and when I can make my own, I love it even more! I enjoy mixing up new scents and oils to create the right product for my mood. I absolutely love activated charcoal for skin treatments.
Activated Charcoal Face Wash
My two favorite ways to use activated charcoal is by far the teeth whitening, and the face wash. This face wash made my skin glow in 2 uses. I have a problem with blackheads and oil, and after two days, my skin was so soft and smooth. My pores were much less noticeable. I had unbelievable results with this. One of the best parts about this face was is most of the ingredients are probably already in your house. Some recipes I found online required ingredients you most likely do not keep on hand.
Activated Charcoal Face Wash
- ¼ cup organic coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons activated charcoal
- ½ TB baking soda
- 2 drops lavender essential oil (optional)
- 2 drops tea tree oil (optional) (I prefer these essential oils)
Melt coconut oil to make it easier to blend. It doesn’t have to be completely liquefied, just enough to blend.
Combine all ingredients in a non-porous container. Use once daily for 3-4 days. This treatment is only needed occasionally, not continuously. The activated charcoal pulls the toxins, environmental pollutants, make up and oil from the pores. It can also dry out the skin if overused. The baking soda acts as a natural exfoliator, but gentle enough for your face. The coconut oil makes the skin soft, and can prevent drying out.
It is soft here but will harden as the coconut oil cools. Once you work it into your hands again to wash your face, it will soften up.
Remember I said it was messy? Yes, it was all over my sink, but cleaned up fine. Just don’t wear white or use white towels. Also be sure you get all the charcoal out of your eyebrows and nostrils!
Activated Charcoal Body Scrub
Much like the face wash, this body scrub left my skin feeling so soft and smooth. This is pretty huge since it’s winter and I struggle with dry skin. Keep in mind, this stuff is messy! Remove any sponges or loofahs from your shower, when rinsing it splashes and could stain any porous fabrics in the shower.
Activated Charcoal Body Scrub
- ¾ cups sugar
- ¼ cup organic coconut oil
- 1 TB activated charcoal
- 5 drops Lavender essential oil
Soften coconut oil before combining so it blends well. I combined all ingredients in a mason jar for easy storage in my bathroom.
Once it’s blended, the coconut oil with become firm again. When ready to use, it will soften quickly when you begin to rub it on. I prefer to apply with my hands to get a good scrub. The sugar acts as a natural exfoliator.
Just the way it works in the face wash, the coconut oil moisturizes the skin, while the activated charcoal removes all toxins. Toxins found in your skin and pours include dirt, oil, environmental pollutants and make up.
MESSY, But Worth It!
With any new health and beauty treatments, it’s always wise to test a small area of skin before going all out! I’d recommend testing the soft skin of your forearm before you cover your face in a charcoal mask.
In my opinion, activated charcoal is worth having in my bathroom cabinet. I love that it’s not something I have to do daily, just periodically. The results with all the treatments I had were incredibly fast. Without a doubt this will be my go-to answer for whiter teeth. It’s also been more helpful for blackheads treatment than any other product I’ve tried. My skin showed improvement in just 2 days. So yes, it was a little messy, but totally worth the mess for the amazing results.