Carbon…You hear or read about it all the time, carbon capture, carbon footprint, carbon filters, bicycles made of carbon….the list is never ending.

So what is carbon?

When we think about the term “carbon”, many of us might think of the gas and the charcoal type of material that is left after something has burned. In fact the name originates from the Latin word “carbo” which means “coal”/”charcoal”.

While this is correct, carbon is much more. It is an Element, actually the 6th most abundant element in the world with a unique chemical structure. Even humans are partly made of carbon.[1]


Activated carbon (also known as activated charcoal or active carbon) is a carbon that is made from substances with a high carbon content (carbonaceous substances) such as, but not limited to coal, coconut shells and wood. It comes in fine, black powdered form and is sold as is or encapsulated as supplements. It is also added to various food and non-food products.

Unlike the charcoal found in your BBQ, it has been processed (“activated”) at very high temperatures which eliminates any remaining toxins. The activation process also changes the carbon’s internal structure in a way that creates a lot of small holes in each particle resulting in low volume pores and a vastly increased surface area. One teaspoon of activated carbon has roughly the same total surface area as a football field.[2]

This combination makes it ideal as an adsorbent meaning it can capture a range of different substances. Activated carbon reaches your gut in unchanged form as it does not get absorbed by your gut. When liquids and gases pass through the activated carbon, they bind to it through a process known as Adsorption. The carbon then caries them out of the body, eliminating them from the system through stool instead of being absorbed into your body.

The World Health Organisation has approved Activated Carbon for the emergency treatment of overdoses or poisonings [3] due to its powerful toxin removal properties [4], but it also plays a big part in water purification, the drinks & food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry.

Activated Carbon is a scientific phenomenon!


[1] National Library of Medicine, National Centre for Biotechnology Information http://ubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/element/Carbon

[2] http://healthline.com/nutrition/activated-charcoal#basics

[3] http://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25455049/

[4] World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines 22nd List (2021)/4. Antidotes and other Substances Used in Poisonings/4.1 Activated Charcoal https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-MHP-HPS-EML-2021.02


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