Activated charcoal involves a number of steps that strip the impurities from the charcoal. This “cleansing” does a number of things: it increases the pore size and surface area as it frees up more sites on the charcoal molecules so that when it’s ingested, more toxins will bind to it.
Put simply, you have to clean the toxins off the charcoal so that the charcoal can re-absorb toxins from your body instead.
It has to be noted that DIY activated charcoal will never be as good as commercially made products since the temperatures used on an industrial scale are much higher than what can be achieved at home, and therefore the purity and surface area available for adsorbing toxins is much greater than homemade activated charcoal.
Uses For Activated Charcoal
The main purpose of activated charcoal is to remove toxins and poisons.
In the case of ingested substances, activated charcoal pills can be taken so that the toxins bind with the charcoal as it passes through your gastrointestinal system and is eventually excreted safely. By adsorbing some of the toxins, the charcoal prevents them from reaching vital organs and tissue. The sooner you administer the pills, the more effective they are.
Activated charcoal is also used in the following applications:
- Water filtration
- Smoke filtration
- Air filtration
- Mild poisoning
- Kidney health
- Intestinal gas
- Teeth whitening and oral health
- Skin infection
Carrying a few activated charcoal pills while out foraging is a great safety precaution, as long as you take them within an hour of eating anything dubious.
Information For Making And Using Activated Charcoal
Making activated charcoal can cause dangerous gases and quite a mess, so always work outdoors but out of the wind.
If you decide to activate the charcoal with a 25% calcium chloride solution, make sure to wear gloves since the solution will heat up quickly.
Using calcium chloride, zinc chloride, or bleach to activate the charcoal is a good option for water or air filtration, but for food-grade activate charcoal pills, it’s safer to use the citric acid in lemon juice.
Most purchased lemon juice has added preservatives, so either squeezes your own lemons or use powdered citric acid (which can be bought from the grocery store).
Using lemon juice, citric acid, bleach, and calcium chloride to activate the charcoal results in a similar end product (the only adjustment in the process is to make a 25% solution when using citric acid, calcium chloride, or bleach).
Washing away any chemical residue after the activation step increases the purity and absorption capacity of the charcoal. Clean drinking water contains minerals that will decrease the purity of your activated charcoal pills, so it’s best to use distilled water instead.
If you start with 2 large handfuls of charcoal, by the time you crush it, sieve it, rinse it through filter paper and then bake it, you will end up with roughly half the amount of activated charcoal.
Instructions For Making Your Own Activated Charcoal
It’s possible to buy charcoal or you can make your own. To do this, place small pieces of hardwood into a heavy-duty pot, put the lid on it, and place it in a hot fire for at least 2 hours (depending on the size of the pot). Allow the charcoal to completely cool.
Rinse the charcoal under water to remove any debris and ash. Leave it out to dry for a couple of hours.
Put the charcoal inside two sealable bags, place a piece of timber on top and crush the charcoal with a hammer or mallet.
Sieve the charcoal to remove the larger lumps.
Place the fine charcoal into a heat-proof bowl or jar and add at least ½ a cup of pulp-free lemon juice (or a 25% solution of citric acid). The mixture should be very runny and mixed thoroughly. Cover and leave it to soak for at least 24 hours.
Place the mixture in a coffee filter or paper towel and rinse with distilled water at least 3 times. This step takes at least half a day, but it’s critical for rinsing off the lemon juice and other impurities, so don’t skimp on the water. I find it easier to allow the charcoal to drain and dry overnight so that it’s easier to dislodge from the coffee filter or paper towel the following day.
Spread it out onto some baking paper, then cook it in the oven at about 220 °F (100 °C) for 30 minutes until it has completely dried. The amount of time will depend on how thin you spread it out.
Grind the dried activated carbon and fill up empty pill capsules. Store the pills in an air-tight jar.
Doses vary based on a person’s condition or symptoms and the size of your pill capsules;
50-100 grams of activated charcoal is given at first, followed by charcoal every 2-4 hours at a dose equal to 12.5 grams per hour. Sometimes a single-dose of 25-100 grams of activated charcoal may be used.
The recommended dose for lowering cholesterol with activated charcoal is anywhere from 4 – 30 grams.
Bloating and general detox treatments only require 1 gram which is potentially one capsule.
Warnings For Using Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal pills should not be used to treat severe poisoning. It is only effective against mild food and alcohol poisoning and vitamin overdoses within an hour of ingestion. The activated charcoal used in the emergency room is well over 300 times stronger than commercially available pills.
Activated charcoal can’t distinguish between beneficial and harmful chemicals in your gut, which means it can have negative interactions with some prescription drugs by adsorbing them before your body can. These include anti-depressants, multivitamins, contraception pills, pain killers, and medication to treat constipation and heart failure.
Activate charcoal’s indiscriminate adsorption also means that it should not be taken on a regular basis, otherwise there is a risk of malnutrition as beneficial minerals and vitamins are removed from your body.
Taking activated charcoal pills can cause dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of water.
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