Activated Charcoal - “the universal antidote”—as some people would like to call it. Although activated charcoal is nowhere near to becoming a panacea, its notable benefits make it one of the most celebrated natural remedies around.
Its popularity escalated quickly from being an emergency detoxifier to a favorite home-remedy for minor wounds and bug bites. Now, the question is: is it worth the hype or is it just another overrated product?
What is activated charcoal anyway, and what type of wonders does it do?
Activated Charcoal: What You Need to Know
Activated charcoal is not your ordinary charcoal. It can be sourced from different things, but certainly not just from any charred object. Coconut, bamboo, and hardwood are some of the most common sources of activated charcoal powder.
Some types of activated charcoal powder are best used for external purposes, so make sure you know what your intended use is before deciding which one to go for.
The term activated charcoal is also the literal definition of what it really is. It’s charcoal that underwent an activation process where it is exposed to high temperatures from steam or air until it oxidizes and becomes more porous.
This process gives it its adsorbent property—a fancy term for the ability to attract and bind with other substances. Therefore, making it an effective remedy for poisoning and drug overdose especially in emergency cases.
Black is the New Clean: What Charcoal Does to Your Skin
Just as activated charcoal can bind with toxins inside our body, it also does the same on our skin. Here are some of the overall skin care benefits of this highly coveted powder.
Natural Cleanser and Exfoliant in One
The fact that activated charcoal is highly adsorbent makes it an effective cleanser and exfoliant for our skin. Combined with other ingredients like essential oils or even something as basic as sugar, this black powder can easily replace your regular cleansers and exfoliants.
Finer Pores for Finer Days
Whatever your skin type is, we all suffer from clogged pores due to the different toxins and pollutants we are exposed to every day. The good news is, activated charcoal with some bentonite clay makes a great mask that can unclog your pores from all those blackheads, whiteheads, and whatnot.
Alternative Treatment for Acne
People get acne for different reasons, so acne management and treatment also vary. Talk to your dermatologist about giving activated charcoal a try. It’s known to be useful in controlling excess oil and clearing up pores which are both vital in preventing and clearing up acne.
Activated Charcoal: A Natural Alternative to Traditional First-Aid
Many people still prefer the natural way of dealing with health issues before going for prescription drugs, especially in minor cases. This is where activated charcoal proves to be useful.
Minor Wounds and Bug Bite Remedy
Sure, we can choose to leave minor cuts and burns alone and wait until they heal on their own. The same is true for bug bites, insect bites, bee stings, and the like. But there are times when the discomfort is beyond what we can take. Thankfully, activated charcoal can help with that.
How it Works
Activated charcoal doesn’t heal minor wounds per se. Instead, it creates an ideal environment that promotes healing by adsorbing bacteria and toxins in the wound. Experts suggest using it along with an antimicrobial agent for better wound management.
Other impressive trademarks of activated charcoal include the ability to relieve itching and reduce inflammation. These are particularly beneficial for soothing our skin from bug bites and even rashes.
In general, the pain, muscle soreness, and overall discomfort that are associated with these ailments are alleviated with the help of activated charcoal.
The Charcoal Poultice
Poultices, in general, are widely used to relieve pain and inflammation. They are meant to aid the healing of wounds and soothe the skin from rashes and insect bites. A charcoal poultice or charcoal compress is no different. So, if you would like to give it a try, here are some poultice recipes to get you started.
For Minor Wounds
There are many ways to create a charcoal poultice for minor wounds. This one is a straightforward recipe that you can easily whip up at home for yourself, your kids, or anyone who might need it.
What you need:
- 2 to 3 tbsp. of activated charcoal
- Gauze pad or paper towel
- Plastic wrap
- Combine the activated charcoal with a bit of water until it reaches a paste-like consistency.
- Take your gauze pad or paper towel and spread the paste over it. Then, cover it with another layer of gauze pad.
- Place the poultice on top of the affected area and cover it with a plastic wrap. Secure the patch with a bandage and leave it on for about 4 to 8 hours.
It’s important to replace the patch as soon as the poultice dries out. Pro tip: you can add a few tablespoons of flax seeds into the mixture to help the poultice retain moisture.
NOTE: Immediately call a doctor and go to an emergency room for major wounds, sprains, and other injuries. Using activated charcoal alone is NOT sufficient to treat serious situations like these. Always consult a physician before using any new product for internal or external use.
For Bug Bites
For a charcoal poultice that is meant specifically to relieve bug and insect bites, you just need to tweak the previous recipe a little bit. Here’s how:
What you need:
- ½ tsp. of activated charcoal
- Gauze pad or paper towel
- Plastic wrap
- Mix the activated charcoal with 1 tbsp. of water. Add some fresh thyme into the mixture.
- Apply the poultice to your gauze pad or paper towel and place it on the affected area. Cover the patch with a plastic wrap and secure it with a bandage.
- Leave it on for about 2 to 4 hours.
Again, make sure to replace the poultice once it dries out. Pro tip: take some dried thyme and make a tea. You can use that for this recipe instead of plain water. Thyme also has an anti-inflammatory property, so it’s a perfect match for the activated charcoal.
NOTE: Immediately call a doctor and go to an emergency room for serious bug bites and allergic reactions. Using activated charcoal alone is NOT sufficient to treat serious situations like these. Always consult a physician before using any new product for internal or external use.
Check out Zen Principle’s Activated Charcoal collection, and add this powerful powder to your natural remedy repertoire.