Activated charcoal seems to be just about everywhere. There are so many reality stars and social media ‘influencers’ who are filling their feeds with pictures and videos of them smearing their skin or teeth with striking masks and toothpastes made from the ingredient. Health shops and cafes have filled their shelves with charcoal products and among the wheatgrass shots and colourful juices at smoothie shops are striking black-coloured beverages made from the ingredient. But what is activated charcoal? And, other than looking good on Instagram, are there any health benefits to using it?
Nutritionist Milena Kaler explains that the first important thing to understand is that activated charcoal is not the same thing as the charcoal you would use for a barbecue. ‘Common charcoal is made from peat, coal, bamboo, wood or coconut shell. Activated charcoal is made especially for use as a medicine.
The activating process removes impurities and creates fine, small granules.