Activated charcoal is a unique form of charcoal that has been first carbonized, then oxidized at very high temperatures to give it incredibly porous properties.
Under a microscope it looks like honeycomb with millions of tiny pores. These pores act like sponges, attracting, absorbing and trapping many toxins and impurities and giving activated carbon its unique health benefits.
How Is Activated Charcoal Made?
Activated carbon is usually made from coconut shells, bamboo and other woods. The wood or shells are super heated in an atmosphere of inert gas like nitrogen and then oxidized with steam, oxygen or carbon dioxide.
This creates an amazingly porous molecular structure with a massive surface area for absorption. Just one teaspoon of activated charcoal will typically have a surface area the size of a football field.
Food grade carbon powder, sometimes called USP grade, is a deep black powder with very fine particles. It is odorless and relatively tasteless and should have less than 4% ash residue.
For medicinal and health uses, activated charcoal comes in a fine powder, granules, tablets and capsules. I personally prefer charcoal capsules over tablets for their superior dispersion. Capsules are also a lot easier to take than the powder and you don’t risk getting it on your teeth.
No matter what form you choose, always take it with a big glass of water and at least one and a half to two hours away from food and particularly medications and other supplements.
Using Charcoal for Intestinal Gas
Charcoal is a popular flatulence remedy for good reason. When we take food grade activated charcoal it travels through our gastrointestinal tract absorbing toxins and impurities as it goes.
This includes trapped intestinal gas and, importantly for preventing those really smelly farts, charcoal can also absorb hydrogen sulphide (also known as rotten egg gas for good reason).
Activated carbon can be very beneficial for intestinal gas and better digestive health in general if used occasionally and properly. It may also absorb other compounds that cause gastrointestinal problems and is often successfully used as a treatment for IBS and diarrhea.
I hope this short article has answered what is activated charcoal and why it’s so good for intestinal gas. The next page on is on how to take activated charcoal for flatulence and will cover some important things to consider before using it.
Photo credit with thanks: Bitterjug