No, not the stuff that goes in your barbecue that comes in briquettes, that’s something different. Activated charcoal is what we’re here for today. Yes, there’s a big difference. Technically they’re both just lumps of carbon, yes, but so very different in what they can actually do.
The stuff you cook your burgers with is simply coal dust that has been combined with some type of fuel (paper, wood, other combustable chemicals), and a binder (sometimes wax). This mixture is then compressed into many different shapes and ready for your grilling needs.
Activated charcoal, on the other hand, is treated much differently. It’s derived from organic materials (remember all living things contain carbon), such as wood, coconut husks, peat, or nutshells. There are other materials that AC could be made from, but we don’t use those in our products, so we will not discuss them here.
The originating material doesn’t just get thrown into a kiln until it turns to dust, there are two types of processes to get the charcoal to “activate”.
The first is a high heat kiln (600-900 degrees C) filled with an inert gas such as argon or nitrogen. It is then introduced with either oxygen or steam to open up the “pores” of the molecule.
The second is a chemical process wherein the originating material is impregnated with a chemical, usually an acid, strong base, or a salt and then carbonized in a low heat kiln (450-900 degrees C).
Awesome, so, who cares? Still don’t know why the stuff is so great?
Cool your jets, I’ll clue you in.
Activated charcoal is so amazing because it’s so incredibly porous. Thats right. Porous. That means is has surface area like nobody’s business. Just one gram of AC has the surface area of 32,000 sq feet. Think about the size of half of a football field. Now, think about 1/28th of an ounce, or the weight of a paperclip. That’s miracle of activated charcoal.
How does it work, you ask?
Certainly something so small can not absorb and hold half a football fields worth of junk. You’re right, it cannot. But it does attract a wide number of organic yuckies. It does this with the physical attraction phenomenon called the van der Waals force wherein the activated charcoal will exchange electrons with the organic material it’s trying to attract. Certainly, the van der Waals force is the weakest of all the chemical attractions, but that’s great news for those of us appreciating it’s gentle nature (skincare).
Now, we know how it’s made, and basically what it is- how is it used?
My favorite part, you can use activated charcoal in just about ANYTHING.
Toothpaste- Used for whitening teeth.
Deodorant- Useful for absorbing organic material on the skin.
Soap- Used as a colorant and also to aid in drawing out toxins in the skin.
Facial Masks- Can be used to absorb dirt and oils found on the skin.
Orally- Used to absorb poisons and overdoses. We’ve also heard that it can be taken as a supplement to keep gas and bloating at bay, as well as other stomach problems.
Filtration- Makes excellent filters for water and air. Aids in the distillation process of alcoholic beverages.
Spill Clean up- Absorbs toxins.
So, there you have it. The amazing activated charcoal, the making of, science, and uses. We certainly hope this article will peak your interest in trying a product containing activated charcoal.