Charcoal is among the simplest and oldest medicines used in human cultures. Almost any plant or animal material burned in an environment with limited oxygen will produce this incredibly useful substance. When charcoal is labelled ‘activated’ it means that it’s in a form with many small pores, which greatly increases its ability to absorb toxins within the body.
In Japan, where charcoal has been used medicinally for centuries, they refer to this activated form as binchō-tan. These micro-pores are capable of dealing with a multitude of potentially harmful compounds in our bodies, including heavy metals, pathogenic bacteria and many environmental toxins.
Charcoal has seen a huge surge in popularity in the last few years, and is being used for a multitude of creative purposes. One example is a granular charcoal called biochar, which can be used to help control climate levels of carbon dioxide while improving soil quality. There’s also a number of household products that are infused with this ultra-absorbent material including clothing, soaps, face towels, eye masks and toothbrushes.
Why Coconut Charcoal?
The most popular types of charcoal come from trees, bamboo and coconut husks. Why is coconut charcoal the best choice? We’ve seen the increasing popularity of coconut palm products including water, oil, nectar and meat in recent years. But what will happen with all the left over husks from this enormous industry? By choosing a coconut shell product you’re actively supporting the preservation of forests and utilizing an otherwise wasted by-product of agricultural industry.
Knowing the source of your charcoal is incredibly important as it can be made from so many different substances. Sticking with a reputable source of activated charcoal such as hardwood, bamboo stalks or coconut is the best way to ensure its purity. Of these three options, coconut sourced activated charcoal is usually the least contaminated.
7 Ways to Use Coconut Charcoal
1. Internal Use:
Activated charcoal is used extensively in hospitals throughout the world as part of the first response to many types of internal intoxication including drug overdoses, food poisoning and for people who’ve accidentally swallowed household chemicals or solvents. Many people also keep it around their home to take in cases of food-borne illness.
2. Detox External Toxins:
We are exposed to thousands of man made chemicals on a daily basis. Their accumulation in our bodies can cause a wide array of side effects such as brain fog, poor memory, low energy levels and digestive difficulties. Charcoal is an easy and affordable way to limit your exposure to the many pollutants we come in contact with daily.
Charcoal also makes an amazing and effective natural scrub for cleaning grease and oil stains off skin or surfaces. When working on cars or bikes that usually require the use of solvents and petroleum by-products. It’s a great idea to wash your hands with activated charcoal. Alkaline soaps don’t actually work very effectively against most of these stronger materials. These products have a unique ability to absorb man-made chemicals and prevent any absorption into the body through the skin.
3. Personal Care:
Charcoal is sometimes used in the processing of cane sugar into white sugar. So why not put that natural whitening power to work and help restore stained teeth to their natural pearly white?
A simple recipe to get you started is 4 tablespoons activated charcoal, a pinch of sea salt, peppermint essential oil and enough water to form a paste. You can also add either xylitol or stevia extract if you want a little bit of extra sweetness. You can also modify this recipe to create homemade charcoal toothpaste by adding 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and about 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil.
4. DIY Beauty:
Clay face masks made from exotic clays are always popular, and coconut charcoal is an affordable option that can be used in a very similar way. One of the best things about charcoal is that it usually contains less metals than most other types of detox clays.
The surface area of micronized charcoal can help absorb excess oil and work to clear clogged pores. It can also be used as a spot treatment for acne. If you feel a breakout coming on, apply a mixture of charcoal powder and tea tree oil before the spot develops.
Another great trick is to moisten your charcoal powder slightly with a spray bottle and apply it as you would conventional eyeliner for a natural makeup option. The easiest tool to use is either a very fine eye makeup brush or just your finger if you’re going for a smoky look.
5. Odor Control:
Charcoal also provides a super effective way to remove unwanted smells from your home. You can ditch the chemical “freshening wipes” and aerosol sprays, which often contain potentially neurotoxic chemicals.
Keep your clothing smelling fresh by putting some activated charcoal into a fine mesh bag and placing it in your closet or dresser. It’s also useful for placing in washrooms or inside shoes to remove any undesirable smells. The charcoal will absorb unwanted odors in much the same way baking soda absorbs the smells in a refrigerator.
6. Air Filtration:
Many of the best quality air purifiers in the world take advantage of the impressive absorptive ability of different forms of carbon. Indoor air quality is an important issue many of us neglect to consider when we’re beginning to make our health a priority.
Each day, the average person breathes in about 10,000 liters of air and yet our house are full of dangerous chemicals that could be absorbed through our lungs and hinder the proper function of our immune systems. A few of the most common include smoke, pollen, dander, mildew, bacteria from pets, volatile organic compounds from paint and formaldehyde from building materials or furniture.
7. Water Purification:
Some of the best water filters on the market are made of carbon, which is the most abundant element in charcoal. Because carbon has such a vast surface area, this style of purifier is capable of filtering many unwanted substances.
An extremely easy way to purify water is by leaving a binchō-tan stick inside a large container of water for 2-3 hours. An added benefit to using binchō-tan is that it simultaneously filters while adding alkaline minerals back into your water. While this might not be as thorough as a high-end carbon water filter, it offers an affordable way to help cleanse small amounts of drinking water.