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What is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is quite frequently used across several different industries, from health care to water filtration.
Throughout this website, you will discover many of the uses of activated charcoal. A large part of the love we have for activated charcoal is how it can benefit a person’s health; something we believe wholeheartedly, and why we became the authority on activated charcoal! Firstly, we are going to walk you through what activated charcoal is, as well as give you a brief overview of how it can potentially be used. We will expand on much of the
information that you find here elsewhere on the website.
What is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is processed charcoal. It has been processed in such a way that it transforms to have a larger surface area. This larger surface area means that it can absorb various chemicals with ease. Therefore, you will often see activated charcoal
used in chemical reactions, or to remove toxins from certain environments e.g. should a person or animal consume poison.
When charcoal is processed (more on that in a short while), millions of pores start to open on the surface of the activated charcoal. It is these pores which absorb the material that the activated charcoal comes into contact with. The number of pores opened gives a single gram of activated charcoal a surface area
of 32,000 sq. ft. This means that you only need a small amount of activated charcoal to absorb a substantial amount of material.
How is Activated Charcoal Manufactured?
In order to produce activated charcoal, you need to start with some charcoal. Any material which is high in carbon can be used to make charcoal. This includes:
– Nutshells
– Coconut husks
– Wood
– Coal
– Petroleum pitch
– Coir
– Peat
If you are making activated charcoal on your own, then it is likely that you will be using wood as this is much easier to source. When activated charcoal is made on an industrial scale, it can be made from any one of the materials mentioned above. It does not matter all that much about which material is used, we are only
concerned about the carbon inside of it anyway.
The most common way in which the charcoal is ‘activated’ is by adding hot gases to the charcoal. Oxygen will then be added to the mixture to eradicate the gases. Various gases can be used during this process. The most common ones are argon
or nitrogen. However, in some cases, companies will also use oxygen or steam. Once again, it does not matter too much about the process as the result is always going to be the same.
When you make activated charcoal at home, it is likely that you will be using chemical activation. This is where you will add a chemical to the charcoal before you put it through carbonization (i.e. you heat it up). This will normally be an acid, base, or a salt. The guide that we have on our website uses calcium chloride.
This is because it is much easier to source than many of the other chemicals.
Activated Charcoal Ratings
Activated charcoal will be given a rating based on how fine the grains are. The size of the grain will be determined by the exact process used. Honestly, if you are using the activated charcoal for health reasons then this is not going to matter too much to you. The only time that you will need to be concerned about
the size of the grain is when you are using the activated charcoal for chemical reactions or for industrial purposes.
– Powdered Activated Carbon: when the average diameter of the particles is 0.15 to 0.25mm.
– Granular Activated Carbon: Somewhere between 0.42mm and 0.84mm in diameter. This is one of the larger types of activated carbon that you can purchase, but it is unlikely you will ever need to buy it for health reasons.
– Extruded Activated Carbon: a binder is added to the activated charcoal which turns the activated carbon into a cylindrical block. This block can have a diameter of anywhere from 0.8mm to 130mm. These will normally be used in industry due to the fact that they are incredibly strong.
– Bead Activated Carbon: constructed from petroleum pitch. The diameter will be anywhere from 0.35mm to 0.80mm. Has a low dust content. Often used for water filtration.
– Woven carbon: Used for filtering. Woven carbon is a cloth made from activated carbon. Cloth is used when you need the activated charcoal to absorb material fast. If you have a water filter in your home, then there is a chance that it uses woven carbon in its construction.
Uses of Activated Carbon
As you go through this website, you will notice that we dedicate a lot of page space to the uses of activated carbon for health purposes. In this section, we are not going to focus on the health benefits of activated carbon. You can browse the rest of our website for that. Instead, we wish to give you a bit more information on the uses of activated carbon in industry.
As mentioned previously, activated carbon is often used in water filters. This is because it can easily remove many of the impurities that you will find in the water. It does not remove bacterias like E. Coli  and the like, so you will need another method to remove that, such as impregnating the activated charcoal with silver ions.
In industrial environments, activated carbon can be used for metal finishing. For example; it will often be used to remove impurities from finished metal. Various chemicals will be added to the activated charcoal to allow this to happen.
It is often used for environmental purposes too. For example; it can help to mop up after chemical spills, purify air, or to remove certain organic compounds from paints.
Had a possibly poisonous night of drinking? Well if you have ever gone to the hospital for alcohol or really any type of poisoning, you were probably given activated carbon to absorb the toxin!
You will also find activated charcoal heavily used in organic farming. It can be used as a pesticide and can also be added to the food that the livestock are consuming in lieu of certain medications.
You may also find organic activated charcoal used in the production of wine, vodka, and whiskey!
To find out more about the uses of activated charcoal, we recommend you browse the rest of our website. We have packed it with useful information just for you!


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