Charcoal Is Not Just For Grilling: Health Benefits Of Activated Charcoal


In healthcare, charcoal is historically known for its purification properties in the body. You may also be familiar with charcoal as a water purification system.

These days, charcoal is included in an array of over the counter health products. In these products, the charcoal serves a similar purpose – to purify the body and flush out toxins. The current school of thought goes like this; if charcoal is used to purify water and our bodies, why not use it to purify other things?

Activated Charcoal

It may not be very exciting, but the creation process is the main difference between charcoal used for your health versus the charcoal you use for barbequing. Charcoal is made from various materials that are abundant in carbon. These carbon-rich materials, including wood, coconut shells, sawdust, and coal, are brought to extremely high temperatures.

When exposed to these temperatures, any previously absorbed materials are removed. This expulsion of excess materials increases the absorbing capabilities of the charcoal. This results in a charcoal that can be used for purification processes, instead of a briquette to give your BBQ some hickory flavor!

How Activated Charcoal Works

As you walk up and down the aisles of Oswald’s, you can spot charcoal in all sorts of products from cleanser to toothpaste.

But how does it work? Without getting too into the weeds, activated charcoal attracts and stores molecules such as toxins and gases. Charcoal is not absorbed by the body, so anything it has attracted is eventually removed from the body as waste.

Does Activated Charcoal Work?

Although not every claim has the resources to be thoroughly tested, there are a number of studies and real-life applications that have proven the effectiveness of charcoal. The most common, and most heavily researched, use for activated charcoal is in cases of poisoning or overdoses.

As an antidote for some overdoses, charcoal is most effective if taken within minutes. Activated charcoal is not effective with all overdoses, as it can only absorb a handful of chemicals.

Less known charcoal uses include promoting kidney function, reducing symptoms of trimethylaminuria (TMAU, also known as Fish Odor Syndrome), reducing cholesterol, improving acne, and reducing gas.

Anecdotal evidence suggests uses including tooth whitening and hangover prevention, but there are no clinical studies to back up these claims. When it comes to charcoal products, it’s up to you to decide if the results you are seeing – whether it be whiter teeth or clearer skin – are enough for you to continue use of a specific product.

If you’re thinking about using activated charcoal for helping with the symptoms of a medical condition, your best bet is to talk to a healthcare professional.

Activated Charcoal Products at Oswald’s

Here at Oswald’s, we stock an array of charcoal products, manufactured by a few different brands. The popular deodorant company Schmidt’s has two charcoal products that we sell. The first is their activated charcoal toothpaste, which helps to whiten teeth and is free of SLS, fluoride and artificial flavoring. The other product that they offer is a Charcoal + Magnesium mineral enriched deodorant. It smells fantastic!

A line that we recently brought into the store is Uncle Harry’s Natural Products. Uncle Harry’s makes their own activated charcoal, which comes in a powder form and is refined from virgin carbon derived from hardwood.

Although the FDA has not evaluated the statements for powder-form activated charcoal, Uncle Harry’s suggests that it “is excellent for absorbing excess acids and other impurities in the stomach and intestinal tract.” They note other popular uses include food coloring, face masks and teeth whitening.

Another line we stock that makes charcoal-based products is the natural beauty products brand Yes To. In particular, Yes To offers detoxifying charcoal facial wipes, detoxifying charcoal mud masks, and detoxifying charcoal cleansers, among others. These various products deep clean, help to clear up acne, and promote dirt and impurity removal from the skin.

Stop By and Check Out Our Selection at Our Naperville Location

As we continue growing our natural and organics lines, we see charcoal popping up in all sorts of products. If you are looking to switch up your self-care routine and haven’t tried out any charcoal or charcoal-infused products, why not give it a shot?

**Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

Written by Allison Anderson

Allison has been working for Oswald's since 2007. A 6th generation member of the Wickel-Oswald-Kester-Anderson family, Allison focuses on natural & organic products, social media, and online promotions. Allison graduated with a BA in Telecommunications from Indiana University Bloomington in 2013, minoring in Marketing. After graduating from IU, Allison worked at SAP Fieldglass as a Business Analyst. A graduate of Naperville North High School in 2009, Allison currently lives in Naperville and is attending classes at the University of Illinois at Chicago, studying Nutrition.