Activated Charcoal- Overview, History, Types, Benefits, Precaution, Dosage

What Is Activated Charcoal?

Activated Charcoal is a carbonising carbon substance such as coconut shells, coal, wood, sawdust, etc, which is subsequently processed chemically or physically to improve its adsorption capacity. It is also named activated carbon.

It is used to selectively separate, remove, and purify specific substances. Activated carbon is mostly made up of carbon, along with small amounts of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and calcium.

The specific gravity of activated carbon varies significantly depending on the level of activation even when using the same raw material. Highly activated carbon typically has a large number of micropores, which results in high porosity, low specific gravity, and high "surface area" value. In general, the larger the surface area of ​​activated carbon, the higher the adsorption performance and adsorption capacity. It is highly used to purify the water and body. Depending on the raw material, activated carbon has three types: "coal-based," "plant-based," and "others."

  • “Coal-based”: It is prepared from bituminous coal, lignite, etc.
  • “Plant-based”: It is prepared from palm stalks, sawdust, etc.
  • “Others”: It is prepared from bones, petroleum residue, etc.

How Was It Prepared?

The coal, plant or other forms of raw material like charcoal, wood, sawdust, coconut shells, pulp effluent, lignin, coals, petroleum coke, cellulose, etc is used to prepare activated charcoal. The manufacturing method is to calcine the raw material, carbonise it and refine it. When charcoal is heated at a very high temperature. It is turned into activated charcoal. Activation refers to the development of a pore structure, by selectively burning internal carbon to create worm-eaten pores and oxidising and eliminating hydrocarbons from pores measuring between 10 and 100 nanometers. The product is shaped like granules and powder. There are several activation techniques, including chemical activation and gas activation.

  • In the gas activation method, bituminous coal, coke, and charcoal are calcined and carbonised at a temperature of about 600°C, and then the gas is activated by flowing steam, carbon dioxide gas, air, etc. at a temperature of 800-1000°C. The raw material must be prepared in advance for gas activation. Alumina, alumina chloride, and the copper oxide may be sprinkled to prevent mouldings from sticking together.
  • In the chemical activation method, zinc chloride is used. In addition, chlorides such as magnesium, tin, aluminium, calcium, quicklime, sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid, sulfur dioxide, etc., are used. Raw materials that are easily dehydrated, such as peat and wood, are made into powder, impregnated with a concentrated aqueous solution of zinc chloride, phosphoric acid, etc., dried, fired at 500-700°C and activated at the same time to remove the carbohydrates in the raw materials in the form of water. It is a method of obtaining highly active carbon.

Type Of Activated Carbon

The properties of activated carbon vary depending on the raw material and method of activation. As discussed, there are various methods to produce activated carbon which result in different adsorption characteristics, and each activated carbon is applied to a specific application due to its diversity. Here are the types of activated carbon listed depending on their shape-

Powder Activated Carbon: The powder form is smaller than 0.15 mm in diameter. It is used for applications that require direct contact and filtration. It has great absorption capacity and fast per-unit amount. Despite its advantages, it has the drawback of being challenging to regenerate. It is employed in the manufacture of body warmers, medications, industrial chemicals, brewing, and water purification systems.

Granular Activated Carbon: The granular form varies between 0.4 - 1.2 mm. They come in a variety of sizes and forms and are typically employed as fluidized beds and moving beds for water treatment, catalysis, gas adsorption, and other Granular coal including crushed coal and granulated coal.

  • Crushed Coal- Granular, irregular in shape and size. The raw material is preserved, and a typical example is coconut shell charcoal. It is used to absorb gases after steam activation.
  • Granulated Coal-Things that are moulded during the manufacturing process. Coal is crushed and a binder is added to form it. There are various shapes and sizes.

In addition, it is processed into various shapes such as fibrous, honeycomb, cylindrical, crushed, granular, and powder depending on the material, manufacturing method, and application. 

History Of Activated Charcoal

The history of the development of the activated carbon industry dates back to ancient Egypt. It was used other than fuel and metallurgy. In 1550 BC, Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian medical text outlines the therapeutic applications of various kinds of charcoal. After that, doctors have had a strong belief that charcoal may treat specific illnesses. In addition, it is also mentioned in one of the manuscripts about the benefits of filtering water with charcoal for purification.

Following that, charcoal was used for a very long time to discolour refined sugar, and in the 18th century, new types of charcoal, like animal charcoal and bone charcoal, were first produced. 

Over the next ten years, the activated carbon industry experienced intense competition and developed rapidly. The movement to eliminate unpleasant odours, unpleasant pigments, harmful impurities, etc. as a result of urban congestion and rapid industrial development, and to improve the purity of food, drink, and the environment has also led to an improvement in the adsorption performance of activated carbon in recent years. However, the need for activated carbon is growing as water quality is improved through enhanced water filtration techniques and environmental cleansing of the atmosphere through the removal of toxins.

Activated Charcoal Uses

Being a great product, activated charcoal is used in many fields:

  • Water purifier: As said above, the activated charcoal in the form of powder, is used to purify the water. Moreover, it is also used in water purifiers.
  • Cosmetic: To remove the impurities from the skin and hair, activated charcoal is used. It is famous for skin cream, face wash, hair masks and many more.
  • Supplement: Activate charcoal capsules, tablets, and powder is also used as a supplement. A pure form is great to use in the supplement. It provides various health benefits by removing impurities and toxicity.

Likewise, there are many fields in which activated charcoal is used. The key role of activated charcoal is to absorb impurities and ward off them. 

Benefits Of Activated Charcoal Supplement

Various health benefits if linked with the use of activated charcoal. Activated charcoal capsules, activated charcoal tablets, activated charcoal powder, activated charcoal liquid, etc are the available supplements which are used by humans to improve their health and get rid of many health conditions. Let’s known about the multiple health benefits of using activated charcoal supplements-

Kidney Health: The use of activated charcoal supplements is great for kidney health. It supports kidney function by filtering out unwanted particles, drugs and toxins. Activated charcoal absorbs the toxicity from the urea and helps in the proper working of kidney and urine function. It is even suggested to kidney patients to filter and clean their kidneys. In addition, it is also good to reduce gastrointestinal damage and inflammation which leads to chronic kidney problems. As per one study, the use of 4g of activated charcoal orally a day can reduce kidney inflammation and damage in the body.

Digestive Health: Activated charcoal is one of the best supplements to reduce gas, bloating and clean the stomach and intestine tract. It is effective to disrupt intestinal gas. Use activated charcoal in the form of powder or capsules enters the intestine and traps the liquid and gas and flushes it out from the body. It helps to neutralise the body and clean the stomach. As per the study, some people put on a dose of activated charcoal, and 34 percent of people experience lower gas problems and low gastric symptoms. For cleaning the stomach and intestine, it is also effective to improve better digestive health.

Emergency Poison Treatment: As we know, activated charcoal is highly absorbent. It absorbs toxins and impurities. When someone consumes poison, over drugs or overdoses on any medication, then professionals suggest using activated charcoal. It helps to save lives by flushing out the poison, and extra drugs from the body. It is one of the best solutions in cases of poison intake, overdose, etc.

Low Cholesterol Level: Activated charcoal helps to reduce the cholesterol level in the body. According to research, it binds the cholesterol and cholesterol-rich bile acid and stops its absorption of it in the body. It wards off cholesterol and prevents it from storing in the body. Likewise, activated charcoal is also good for heart patients and obese people. As per the study, the use of 24g of charcoal helps to reduce 25 percent of cholesterol within 4 weeks. Heart patients should try it to control their cholesterol levels and promote better blood circulation.

Hangover Prevention: The use of activated charcoal capsules is famous to use after drinking capsules. It helps to reduce the hangover effect. It only reduces the hangover effect. Activated charcoal does not stop the absorption of alcohol in the body.

Body Odour: The use of activated charcoal is famous in the deodorant. It helps to reduce the unpleasant odours in the body. It is effective in fish odour syndrome. It is a condition where the body smells like rotting fish. Activated charcoal converts the odour compound in the urine and passes it from the body.

Water Filtration: Activated charcoal is famous as a natural water filter. It helps the body in good health by continuously filtering the water. It can absorb a wide range of toxic, viruses, bacteria, fungi, chemicals or any pathogens. It keeps the body safe from disease-causing microbes and provides a healthy body. The use of activated charcoal is also famous in water filter machines. Many use carbon cartridges to prepare dozens of water filtration products at home to purify the water's toxic and impurities.

Diarrhoea: The use of activated charcoal is also suggested in diarrhoea. Having unhealthy food, bacteria, viruses etc causes diarrhoea in the body. Activated charcoal traps them and flushes them out to get rid of diarrhoea. Diarrhoea patients give it a try.

Oral Health: A lot of oral products are rich in activated charcoal. Its toxin-absorbing antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and detoxifying properties promote oral health. It also helps to provide whitening to the teeth. The plague and bad breath are also improved by the use of activated charcoal products.

Skin Care: Charcoal skin care products are everywhere nowadays. It attracts dirt, dust, and chemicals, is toxic and cleanses the skin. It helps to clean the skin, reduce acne and pimples and offer better skin. An activated carbon-rich cream, mask, oil, etc are greater to use. Activated charcoal skincare products are easily available in the market.

Activated Charcoal Dosage

The right dose of activated charcoal is also important. It helps to get rid of the overdose problem, but it doesn't mean you can have as much as you want. Every supplement has a dose limit, and so does activated charcoal. Well, you can choose any form of charcoal from liquid to capsules. The dose of activated charcoal varies from person to person. Here, we are giving you a rough note of using activated charcoal. For best guidance, consult a healthcare professional.

  • Children 1 year and younger: The recommended dose is 10 to 25 g, or 0.5 to 1 g/kg.
  • Children 1 to 12 years: The recommended dose is 25 to 50 g, or 0.5 to 1 g/kg.
  • Adolescents and adults: The recommended dose is 25 to 100 g.
  • Flatulence: The recommended dose is 520 to 975 mg.

Note: This is just a rough note. 

Activated Charcoal Precaution

There are many precaution points that you should know before start using activated charcoal in any form-

  • If you are allergic to activated charcoal, do not use activated charcoal orally, etc. You need to avoid Actidose-Aqua, charcoal (activated), CharcoalAid, Insta-Char, Liqui-Char, and Superchar, etc medication because they consume charcoal.
  • Make sure to check the ingredients of all the products. 
  • If you overdose on activated charcoal, immediately visit the doctor.

Consider the following caution when using activated charcoal-

  • It may cause vomiting
  • It may decrease peristalsis
  • Sorbitol or other cathartics increase the risk of electrolyte abnormalities.
  • It is not recommended as a treatment for poisoning.
  • Activated charcoal or sorbitol-rich products so not used by fructose intolerance patients.
  • It may affect the medication of other drugs, so make sure with a professional.
  • If you are a pregnant or lactating woman, make sure to consult a healthcare professional first.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on Activated Charcoal

Sulfur dioxide is the most adsorbed gas by activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal is mostly prepared by burning hardwood. Put hardwood in a container and cover it. Heat the pot for some hours until it turns into black charcoal. Let it cool for a few hours and later wash it with water. Your activated charcoal is ready.

Activated charcoal is famous as a "universal antidote". It helps to ward off the majority of poison, unwanted particles, toxins and many more.

CO2 is absorbed into a maximum amount by activated charcoal because it is an easily liquefiable gas.

For skin cleansing and skin health, use activated charcoal powder as a skin mask. Mix 1 tablespoon of the activated charcoal mask with 1 tablespoon of organic clay. Add some water to prepare a paste. Apply it to your skin after washing your face. Leave it for 15-20 minutes and rinse with cool water.

Intake of Bhumija Activated Charcoal capsules twice a day with a glass of water. For better guidance, consult your professional doctor with your health condition.

Charcoal is carbon residue from wood whereas activated charcoal is prepared from charcoal. Both are different or we can say the form of charcoal. Activated charcoal is heated up at a very high temperature.

Yes, it is safe to use activated charcoal daily. For best guidance, talk to experts.

Activated charcoal is effective in many noxious substances. It absorbs poison and poison-like substances like medical drugs, toxins, poisonous chemicals and many more.

When we intake activated charcoal, it traps the poisonous particles in the gastrointestinal tract and prevents its absorption of it into the bloodstream. Later, it wards it off from the body.

The common drawback of using activated charcoal is vomiting, constipation, black stools and many more.

Activated charcoal capsules reduce gas, bloating, and cholesterol levels and improve kidney function in the body. It removes the toxic and cleanses the body for overall health.

Yes, charcoal helps to detoxify and purify the body and improve many body functions.

You should follow your professional guidelines. If you are an adult and using BHumija Activated charcoal capsules, then use them twice a day.

Yes, Charcoal and activated charcoal is known as a natural detoxifier and it eliminates toxic particles from the body.

Activated charcoal takes 1-4 hours to start work.

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