skip to Main Content
How To Make Your Own Activated Charcoal Pills - Cover

How To Make Your Own Activated Charcoal Pills

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
  • Diarrhea
  • 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.

Step 1:

Rinse the charcoal under water to remove any debris and ash. Leave it out to dry for a couple of hours.

Step 2:

Put the charcoal inside two sealable bags, place a piece of timber on top and crush the charcoal with a hammer or mallet.How To Make Your Own Activated Charcoal Pills - Step 2

Step 3:

Sieve the charcoal to remove the larger lumps.How To Make Your Own Activated Charcoal Pills - Step 3

Step 4:

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.How To Make Your Own Activated Charcoal Pills - Step 4

Step 5:

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.How To Make Your Own Activated Charcoal Pills - Step 5

Step 6:

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.How To Make Your Own Activated Charcoal Pills - Step 6

Step 7:

Grind the dried activated carbon and fill up empty pill capsules. Store the pills in an air-tight jar.

How To Make Your Own Activated Charcoal Pills - Pills


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.

You may also like:

How to Make Black Drawing Salve for Boils, Wounds, and Tick Bites

10 Things Cowboys Carried with Them in the Wild West to Survive (Video)

How to Make Your Own Natural First Aid Kit

5 Home Remedies for Diarrhea

How To Make A Natural Toothpaste At Home

Notify of

15 The Lost Herbs Comments
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Please keep me posted of comments to this. Thank you.

I’m new to this- how do you know how many grams of charcoal are in each capsule? does it depend on size of capsule?

Hi Fagan,

There are different capsule sizes.
Large Capsule
Size 000 is the largest capsule size. On average this holds about 1000mg, but that all depends on powder density.

Average Size Capsules
00 capsule capacity holds about 750mg, because of the size and great fill weight it is one of the most common capsule sizes used in the supplement industry.
Size 0 capsule holds about 500mg, because of the great average dose size, it is one of the most common capsule sizes used in the pharmaceutical and beauty industry.

Small capsules
Size 1 holds about 400mg. and is a great size for those who have trouble with swallowing capsules but with only a 0.50ml volume fill density is not the best for consumers wanting high dosage.

Size 2 holds about 300mg.

Because the small size capsule makes this really hard to fill with powder and tricky to use.

Thank you!

I buy activated charcoal for use in fish tanks. I crush it and add it to empty pill capsules.

When I had an aquarium, I used Marineland Activated carbon.
Haven’t found anything better.

Please keep me posted of comments to this. Thank you.

About how many mgs are in each pill?

Hi Wendy,

The largest standard pill capsule you can buy is 1 gram.

How about charcoal briquets? Are they toxic?

Charcoal is not like clay. Charcoal is a material without plasticity and cannot be molded into a shape without adding a binding material.
Two concerns are the binders used to shape the briquets and any accelerant used to get them going.
WHile the briquets themselves when being burned might not be of major concern, it is what is left over in the ashes one needs to think about.
If you used lighter fluid, what are the remains of it once burned?

Ever get that lighter fluid taste on your food?
Some people used gasoline (petrol),
Leaves food quite nasty.
Plain briquets have various things in them (like burn rate control, flavor, etc).

Best to assume that store bought briquets are going to be very bad for you (and your soil if used in there too), unless you can prove otherwise.

Lump charcoal (aka ‘cowboy charcoal’) is pretty safe, depending on if you use it in the soil or use it to cook with.
That is just pyrolized wood. In fact, unless it was tampered with, pure charcoal in small quantities won’t usually hurt anyone.

You mentioned toxic – you mean for you or for the ground/plants?

I would like to point out another use for charcoal.
If you make organic charcoal (not the store bought briquets), you can inoculate it with a handful of soil and saturate it with water. Toss in some organic molasses.

Stir daily or aerate.
In about 3-4 weeks, you made some biochar.

That is a permanent soil amendment. It helps create ‘Amazonian Black Earth’, which is the most fertile soil on the planet.

Do research before adding though.
Diff percentages can have far different results.
Rule of thumb: start with 5% biochar by volume of the soil. You can always add more but really hard to remove it.
Optimal results can take 1-3 years in the soil if you didn’t do it right.

Activated carbon is even better since it is smaller particles and has more pores in it.

I used heating oak wood pellets (100%).
So far so good.

Very interesting. Thank you for the info.

You are very welcome.

Remember though, constant or excessive use of charcoal or activated carbon can deplete your body if things it needs.
Best to research dosage and frequency now while you still can.

For Biochar, you do not have to inoculate it, but it does work better if you do.

Some people take a shortcut and use chemical fertilizer to ‘charge’ the charcoal.
Yes, it does work, but not as one would intend.

Hi, I have charcoal powder and would like to make it into pills. Can you tell me how I would do this?

We use a bic pen and take the ink refill out. The empty tube works as a funnel to get the charcoal into the small capsule. Ingenuity is key.

Last edited 5 months ago by Sandy
Back To Top