Activated charcoal has become increasingly popular over the last few months with restaurants, cafes, and craft juice stores selling various drinks, desserts, and even ice cream made with activated charcoal. Have you tried charcoal ice cream, charcoal salad, or charcoal lemonade? If you have, you probably didn’t notice much of an effect besides having to walk around with stained teeth the rest of the afternoon. That doesn’t meant that charcoal isn’t effective (just read this article on 5 reasons to add activated charcoal to your water!), but that there are other options besides having to turn your food black. Here are 4 ways to use charcoal that will impress even the trendiest of your friends—while actually improving your health, your skin, and your hair.
1. Whiten Those Pearly Whites
The first time I tried a charcoal toothpaste found at my local food co-op, I was skeptical. After going my whole life identifying toothpaste as white, it was odd to be brushing my teeth with something black. Worse still was the way my teeth looked in the midst of brushing—as though I had dyed my mouth black. I was skeptical about the way I had to scrub the porcelain sink after, and was about to render charcoal useless until I rinsed out my mouth and smiled. My teeth were the whitest and shiniest they had ever been! There has been some pushback from dentists regarding the potential to remove enamel with intensive charcoal brushing, but for those worried about erosion, simply dab on powdered charcoal onto your teeth and let sit before rinsing. Wellness Mama provides plenty of further information on her website here. Most organic and natural food stores sell a brand of toothpaste containing charcoal, but it’s also incredibly easy to make your own. Simply mix baking soda, activator charcoal, your preferred essential oil (peppermint, wintergreen, and cinnamon are all great), and coconut oil. Brush as normal and rinse well, or follow up with oil pulling. Looking for an instructional DIY toothpaste recipe? Try this one.
2. Forget About Food Poisoning
Last winter while on a trip to Mexico, I came down with the worst food poisoning I’ve ever experienced. I was in bed for two full days, barely able to keep even water down. Unfortunately, there was little I could do but get through it because I had failed to bring along trusty activated charcoal for just such a time! You can purchase activated charcoal capsules at most health food stores and while dosage will vary depending on the severity, your age, and your weight, most stomach flus or food poisoning bouts will require 2-3 capsules every few hours. This should be somewhere in the range of 2-5 grams per day, but rarely over. For example, in severe poisoning cases, doctors will use 10 grams but expect there to be massive side effects. Always consult a health care professional before taking charcoal for poisoning.
3. Better Your Skin
Charcoal can be used to nourish skin and banish blemishes, as an article by Better Nutrition explains. “Activated charcoal is thought to bind with excess sebum, bacteria, and toxins on the skin that can exacerbate acne and breakouts.” There are plenty of face masks that you can readily purchase, but it’s just as easy to make your own. Add a teaspoon of charcoal powder to your favorite base of raw honey, olive oil, mashed avocado, egg yolk, or bentonite clay and let sit for 10-20 minutes. Rinse with cold water and apply your favorite moisturizer.
4. Cleanse Your Hair
Charcoal binds to bacteria in your hair much like it binds to bacteria in your stomach, making it a fantastic clarifier and cleanser. You can simply add a capsule or two of activated charcoal to your shampoo or make your own hair mask. I prefer the shampoo method since it’s easy and prevents build-up that can occur from over-washing or using the same shampoo and conditioner for months in a row. Better Nutrition suggests adding a teaspoon of activated charcoal to 1/4 cup of almond oil and mixing into a luxurious paste to coat your hair; I would add that argan oil, while pricey, is a particularly great option, or try castor oil. Simply apply to your hair, cover with a shower cap, and wait 20 minutes (perhaps taking an epsom salt bath in the meantime)—then shampoo as normal. This treatment can be particularly beneficial for those suffering from dandruff.
Do you have any great recipes using activated charcoal?