Move aside, unicorn frappés. Activated charcoal appears to be the newest food craze, and it’s hard to miss! From black ice creams to black waffles–and even black pizza crusts–charcoal is quickly making colorful creations a thing of the past. But how safe are these pitch-black treats?
Images of barbecues may be coming to mind–and although similar to the kind of charcoal used to light a grill–activated charcoal, or activated carbon, is actually far more porous and has medicinal properties, unlike its inedible counterpart. For this reason, activated charcoal–the byproduct of burning carbon-rich items like wood, peat, or coconut shells–is widely used in emergency rooms to prevent overdoses and treat alcohol poisoning because it’s able to absorb poisons, drugs, and other toxins before they can enter the bloodstream.
The odorless black powder being added to foods and drinks is relatively tasteless and does little more than to give off a deep, gloomy hue. Although they may look appealing–and seriously IG-worthy–indulging in these treats may not be the healthiest option if you consume them on a regular basis. Activated charcoal can cause constipation and dehydration, as well as inhibit the effectiveness of supplements and prescription medication (yes, ladies…even your birth control).
Although blackened foods may be relatively new, activated charcoal has long been used as a staple in beauty regimens and is a go-to ingredient in many beauty care products for its ability to absorb toxins from the hair and skin. When used in facial masks and cleansers, activated charcoal removes oil and dirt from the skin, greatly reducing the appearance of pores and making your skin noticeably smoother. Desiring those va-va-voom curls? Activated charcoal can also be used to cleanse your greasy hair, leaving it full and voluminous. But that’s not all activated charcoal can do! Here are 4 other ways activated charcoal has proven its usefulness–aside from making your baked goods perfect for a Halloween photo op.
1. Activated Charcoal Soothes Bug Bites
A pesky bug bite or a painful bee sting can be easily remedied by applying activated charcoal in paste form. The activated charcoal works by absorbing venom and other poisons from the body and reduces the chance of an infection. To make an activated charcoal paste, simply mix ½ a teaspoon of activated charcoal powder (which can be purchased at a local drug store) with 1 tablespoon of water until the mixture is thick. You can apply the homemade remedy directly onto the bug bite and cover with a bandage. Leave the mixture on for 2 to 3 hours before rinsing off and reapply the paste if necessary.
2. Activated Charcoal Heals Minor Cuts & Other Skin Ailments
When it comes to minor cuts, bruises, swelling, inflammation, minor burns, poison ivy, or abscesses, activated charcoal paste is also a terrific remedy for absorbing bacteria from the body. Activated charcoal is safe to use externally on minor open cuts as the charcoal is unable to be absorbed into the body. For a larger portion of paste, use 2 to 3 tablespoons of activated charcoal powder and slowly mix in water until the consistency is thick. Wrap with gauze and secure with a bandage as needed.
3. Activated Charcoal Alleviates Digestive Conditions
Feeling bloated? Or worse…gassy? Activated charcoal can help with that! When used as directed, activated charcoal tablets or capsules can be taken to relieve bloating, gas, upset stomach, and indigestion by binding to fats, acids, and other toxins found in your stomach or intestines. Although activated charcoal is safe to be taken internally, it is not recommended for prolonged use and should not be taken on a full stomach as the charcoal can bind to vitamins and keep the body from getting necessary nutrients found in food. Always be sure to drink plenty of water when taking activated charcoal capsules or tablets as they may cause constipation.
4. Activated Charcoal Remedies Scalp Issues
Along with making your hair extra sleek, activated charcoal can help ease redness and itchiness of the scalp as well as alleviate dandruff due to its ability to fight fungal infections. Activated charcoal powder can be applied directly to the scalp or can be added into your shampoo. Simply rub 1/2 a teaspoon of activated charcoal powder directly into the scalp for 10 minutes, rinse, and wash as normal or mix 1 teaspoon of the powder into your shampoo.
Warning: Always seek approval from your doctor before consuming activated charcoal in any form. Do not consume activated charcoal if you are pregnant (or believe you may be pregnant), if you are currently taking prescription medication, or if you have (or believe you may have) an underlying health condition. Activated charcoal is also quite messy and may stain clothes, fabrics, floors, and other surfaces, so plan accordingly prior to using.
Have you ever used activated charcoal? What was your experience with it?
Also by Audrey: 4 Unexpected Ways to Green Your Beauty Routine Like an Earth Goddess
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