Ever since becoming a part of the health and wellness world, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of trending products. At one point, it was coconut oil. People (myself included) became obsessed with coconut oil and its numerous uses (and let’s be clear, this isn’t a trend. I still am obsessed with it). You can use it to cook, as a moisturizer, a hair mask, lip balm, oil pulling… the possibilities are endless. Similar in its diversity, activated charcoal is one of those products.
What is activated charcoal?
Activated charcoal is a fine black powder. It consists of a substance – usually bamboo, wood, or coal – that is burned without oxygen. At high temperatures, it becomes “activated.” This increases its surface area, makes it more porous than regular charcoal, and allows it to be digested.
What does it do?
Most natural trends are popular for a reason: their multiplicity. While coconut oil is most commonly known for its moisturizing benefits, charcoal is known for removing impurities in all shapes and forms. It’s typically used for bodily toxin removal (our bodies can’t digest it, so toxins leave when it passes through our systems), but also for oral care and beautification. There are many uses, but I’ll name our top 3 to keep it short and sweet.
Our 3 Favourite Uses for Activated Charcoal
1) To purify water*
This is one of the most common uses. Water with charcoal sticks is often found in cafes (including our Be Fresh cafes!) or health stores. Charcoal naturally bonds with and removes toxins in the water, including chlorine, sediments, taste and odour. It purifies your digestive system and tastes great, too! To make it at home, simply add 1-2 tablespoons of charcoal powder to each litre of water. Shake and mix well.
2) As a natural tooth whitener*
Activated charcoal is also great for oral care. It pulls toxins from the mouth and removes stains, and is shown to improve mouth pH and prevent tooth decay. To whiten your teeth with charcoal, dip a wet toothbrush in the powder, lean over your sink (it might stain counters – beware!), and brush in small circles for 2 minutes. Alternatively, you can mix it with water and swish away. Although it may stain counters (and definitely will stain grout), it won’t stain your teeth. We promise! Despite its black exterior, it gets your teeth lookin’ white and your mouth feelin’ fresh. Win-win.
*Note: always check with your doctor before ingesting any foreign substance. Sometimes charcoal doesn’t mix well with certain medications, so be sure to do your research beforehand.
3) As a face mask
Tons of face masks include charcoal. I recently bought one myself (and I loved it) but it cost a whopping $25 for a tiny jar. Now that I know how to make a much cheaper DIY version that’s essentially the same thing, I will never rely on the store-bought stuff again! Charcoal is great for a face mask because it binds to and removes any toxins, bacteria, and dirt in your pores. It’s also a quick and easy way to treat yourself and will leave you feeling like a true star. Give it a try!
1 tsp of charcoal powder
A few drops of water
Put the charcoal powder in a bowl.
Slowly add the water until it forms a paste.
Using your fingers, apply the paste to your entire face (of course avoiding eyes and nostrils. Let’s stay safe people).
Let it dry for 10 minutes.
Remove with warm water and a cloth (since it may stain, don’t use a white cloth and be sure to clean your bowl after).
Rewash your face with a mild cleanser to remove all lingering charcoal.
Apply a moisturizer (*this is key. Since charcoal removes all impurities and can leave it feeling dry, your face will need some moisturization).
All done! Your face should feel as bright as a sunny day.
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These are just a few of our favourite uses for charcoal, but there are tons out there (such as helping with food poisoning and hangovers. Basically it’s a miracle worker). Have you heard of other uses for activated charcoal? If so, let us know!