If you've spent any time at all shopping on the internet recently, you've probably noticed that all types of products are jumping on the activated charcoal bandwagon. This black powdery stuff is now in everything from toothpastes to air fresheners, but what does it actually do, and which substances make for the best activated charcoals? It really all depends on what you're looking for.
Typically, activated charcoal is made from either bamboo, hardwood, or coconut shells. It's created by heating these plant materials until they become char. After that, it's treated, or "activated," using various methods in order to increase its absorbency. Thanks to its negative charge and porous nature, it was first used in healthcare to absorb poisons and toxins from patients. Now, it's sometimes used for internal detox, but you're more likely to see it in face masks, soaps, teeth whitening products, water purifiers, and odor-control products.
There are countless magically easy uses for activated charcoal, and if you purchase a pure powder, you can use it for all of them. I've implemented several different types into my DIY beauty and self-care routine, and I have to say, they've all worked as well (if not better) than some of the less-natural alternatives. Here are five of the best-selling activated charcoal products on the market right now, so you can jump on that bandwagon, too.
1. Because It’s Sourced From Hardwood, This Powder Is Best For Removing Stains
Zen Charcoal Hardwood Activated Charcoal Powder
Charcoal made from wood is ideal for absorbing larger molecular compounds, and as a result, it's great for decolorization. Since it's created using only eastern American hardwood trees, this Zen Charcoal activated charcoal powder is awesome when it comes to whitening teeth and brightening skin. It has over 2,000 reviews, most of which are filled with before-and-after pictures that look pretty darn promising. Reviewers especially love how it doesn't cause breakouts or sensitivity where other face masks and chemical teeth whitening kits do. It's also certified food-grade, has an extremely fine texture, and is one of the most affordable options out there.
2. Coconut Shell Powder Is Ideal For Odors And Air Purification
Sagano Activated Coconut Shell Charcoal Powder
Coconut shell-based activated carbon is better for handling contaminants with a lower molecular weight. You can use it for whitening and detox masks, but it's especially great when it comes to odor removal and the dechlorination of water. That's why Sagano activated powder works well for homemade air and water purifiers, as well as breath fresheners. It's made from quality Indonesian coconut shells to produce a soft, fine powder that absorbs well into DIY recipes. "It will actually start to purify the air as soon as it's exposed," one reviewer writes, so you can simply put it in a canvas pouch or other breathable container to freshen up the air in your car, closet, or refrigerator.
3. This Steam-Activated Coconut Option Comes In A No-Mess Container For All Your DIY Needs
Gold Mountain Beauty Coconut Activated Charcoal Powder
Most people's top complaint when it comes to utilizing activated charcoal in their routines? How messy it is. This Gold Mountain Beauty coconut charcoal powder comes in a convenient jar with a screw-off lid, making it much easier to store and access. It's made from food-grade coconuts and is steam-activated, which means that steam is used to burn more holes into the carbonized material, making it much more porous and absorbent. It's also fine enough to be mixed into DIY recipes, but reviewers say that it's "more porous and less dusty" than wood charcoals, so "it can be placed in the fridge or trash or any other stinky nook of the house to purify the air."
4. Since Bamboo Grows So Quickly, This Powder Is The Eco-Friendly Choice
Zone 365 Activated Bamboo Charcoal Powder
Since bamboo charcoal is also made from wood, its macro-molecule porosity is best for teeth-whitening, blackhead masks, detox, and hair purification. That being said, since it's the fastest growing plant in the world and can grow up to four inches in one day, it's the number one renewable resource in the world. Zone 365 activated charcoal uses only food-grade bamboo, making it the most eco-friendly option available. "This was something I didn't know I needed!" one reviewer writes. "I honestly did buy it in hopes of a natural teeth whitener (which it does well) but I was surprised by the fact that it's a workhorse!"
5. Binchotan Charcoal Is Best For Purifying Water, And These Come In Carafe-Friendly Sticks
Kishu Binchotan Water Purifier Sticks
Also known as "white charcoal," Binchotan charcoal traditionally comes from Japan, and is made from branches of ubame oak trees. It's really effective when it comes to absorbing impurities from water, and it does so without impacting the taste in a negative way. Kishu Binchotan sticks are a waste-free alternative when it comes to filtering your water because they require no additional parts or containers — just your own glass or carafe. One stick works for up to two liters, and you can reactivate the charcoal every two weeks by boiling the stick for ten minutes and letting it dry. "These are amazing!" one reviewer writes. "I've been looking for a low-waste alternative for filtered water and am very happy with the taste and quality. I keep a glass one-gallon jug in my fridge with two of these and always have access to cold, clean, filtered water."
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