How to Use Activated Charcoal for Flatulence

Powdered Charcoal for GasActivated charcoal can be very effective at absorbing excessive flatulence gas and removing toxins and other undesirable compounds in your gastrointestinal tract.

It is, however, necessary to make sure you take this special kind of carbon in a particular way and at certain times for maximum benefit.

Learn exactly how to take activated charcoal correctly ahead, the recommended dosage and a few charcoal side effects and precautions to be aware of.

How Does Activated Charcoal Absorb Toxins?

Importantly, activated charcoal is not metabolized or digested in any way in your body. The carbon travels all the way through your gastrointestinal tract without being absorbed and, at larger doses, will end up turning stools gray or black.

This may be a little disconcerting for the first time, but it’s useful to get an idea of how long things take to go through your system. Any longer than a day and it may be well worth considering a colon cleanse.

Activated carbon is electrostatically attractive to most compounds, chemicals and microorganisms that are damaging to the human body. This is generally a good thing, as it can absorb and negate toxins, including terrible smelling hydrogen sulfide rotten egg gas, as it travels through your stomach, small intestine and particularly large intestine.

Conversely though, this same sponge-like action may also impact the effectiveness of medications or other supplements and possibly even some of the nutrients in food (though there is no scientific proof of this).

For this reason and others, it is best to take charcoal capsules, tablets or powder in a certain way and within a specific timeframe.

How to Take Activated Charcoal for Flatulence

Activated charcoal, whether as a tablet, capsule or powder, should always be taken on an empty stomach with a large glass of water. The water will help move it from the stomach into the intestines where it can start doing its best work.

In fact, I personally take a second glass of water around ten minutes after taking my charcoal capsules to make sure it’s moved on from the stomach.

Taking it on an empty stomach makes good sense for two reasons. Firstly, to allow the charcoal to travel through your system without the impediment of a large meal. And secondly to avoid it potentially absorbing up beneficial nutrients from the food.

Activated charcoal capsules or high quality food-grade powder, taken with a good amount of water, should be had at least an hour and a half, preferably two hours after a meal.

The larger the meal, the longer it would be worth waiting. So a large dinner would be at least two hours, whereas with a meal of fruit or soup you may be fine to take it closer to an hour.

Activated carbon should also be taken at least an hour and a half before a meal. You may have a fairly small window of optimal time to take it if you eat as often as I do.

This timing advice is especially important for medications and supplements. Always allow two hours either side of taking supplements when using activated carbon and consult your doctor before taking it if you are using important medicines.

Activated charcoal is generally recommended for intermittent use rather than as a daily supplement. Taking charcoal for excessive flatulence, you could notice when you are most often having gas problems and time taking your capsules or powder to minimize this.

For instance, if morning flatulence was a problem, you might take activated charcoal one and a half hours before dinner on an empty stomach with lots of water. On the other hand, if intestinal gas is more of an issue in the evening, you might take it mid morning, between breakfast and lunch.

Recommended Dosage

Recommended activated carbon dosage for frequent gas and toxin removal is between 500 mg and 1000 mg (usually 2 – 4 capsules depending on size), once again taken with a large glass of water, preferably two hours away from meals. This can be doubled for particularly excessive and smelly flatulence.

For emergency treatment for poisoning, recommended adult dosage is much larger at 25 to 100 grams of activated charcoal powder, mixed with water and taken as soon as possible after ingestion.

Recommended child dosage (1-12) is 25 to 50 grams of the powder mixed with water, while recommended infant dose is 10 to 25 grams of powder mixed with water.

For more detailed charcoal treatment for poisoning information see the Mayo Clinic’s page on activated charcoal. If you have very young children it’s also worth carefully considering how to make your home safer against accidental poisoning.

Activated charcoal is also gaining popularity as a teeth whitener since it can absorb stains directly from tooth enamel. For teeth whitening simply use a small amount of the powder on the end of your tooth brush and scrub it into teeth regularly.

Most people find their teeth getting noticeably whiter after a couple of weeks of regular, preferably daily, brushing with activated charcoal.

Activated Charcoal Warnings and Precautions

Activated carbon is commonly used as a poison and drug overdose treatment in hospitals around the world. Many homes, particularly those with young children, also keep a supply on hand for emergencies. There are, however, some precautions and warnings associated with its use.

Activated charcoal should not be used as a treatment for ingestion of strong acids or alkaline substances, cyanide or alcohol poisoning. Obviously call your emergency number and get to a hospital as soon as possible.

As a precaution, it is not recommended for people with gastrointestinal injury or liver or kidney disease. In fact anyone with a serious disease is recommended to discuss using charcoal with their doctor, especially with regards to their medications.

It is also not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women or young children (even though it has been proven to not be metabolized so this may be just the standard blanket warning).

Activated carbon has occasionally been observed to make constipation worse in susceptible individuals. This is usually avoided by drinking plenty of water and timing taking it as suggested above.

If you’re prone to constipation consider cutting back on foods like these that are likely causing the issue and drink much more water during the day. It’s important to consult a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner if this is an ongoing problem for you.

As with any supplement, it’s a good idea to take a month off from using it from time to time, even if you’re only use it occasionally. While some health practitioners do recommend activated charcoal as part of a detox plan, unless you are following their advice, it is probably best as an occasional but very effective remedy for excessive gas.

Coming up ahead is the best places I’ve found for activated charcoal capsules and powder online at the best prices.

Photo 1 : Zephyris


This post provided guidance that NIH, the mayo clinic and the national digestive disease web sites did not. THANK YOU! Much appreciated. I will buy the charcoal capsules from your affiliate link as a thank you.


Thanks a lot for your comment. That’s quite a compliment. I hope charcoal works as well for you as it has for me.


Great article,
I have used activated charcoal in the past and had great results reducing flatulence

kahunde florence

hello dear,am an obese lady and used to have excessive acids and heart burn so my doctor always prescribed for me antacids but i read this article recently and have been doing as you instruct,the result is good because i no longer have heart burn.thankyou for the advice.


Hi there,

Thanks for your comments and glad to hear using activated charcoal for heartburn and acid reflux has worked so well for you.

All the best,



Confused. For really bad gas (from eating beans) do we take this BEFORE or AFTER eating the gas causing beans? If I wait two hours, seems like the gas will already be ramping up, but too soon, and maybe the charcoal will not work. Advice? I get HORRENDOUS gas when eating beans. But I miss eating them :(


Hi Flo,

Taking activated charcoal 1 to 1 and a half hours before eating a meal with beans should help. You may have to test the timing a bit depending on your own digestive system.

An easier way is to have the beanzyme mentioned in this article at the same time as any bean or legume meal It also works for vegetables like broccoli.

Hope this helps,



Hello just curious to know if it’s OK to drink my charcoal water in the morning on an empty stomach? I added a teaspoon to a 16 ounce bottle of water and drink the whole thing not sure if that was good or not can you help me find the right dose pls


Hi Tanya,

This is a good time to have charcoal water as long as you are not having any important medications or supplements nearby the charcoal.

All the best,



I used to chew every charcoal tablet or capsule I find. But I stopped after realizing not all the woods are good to get it the body system. I bought an activated charcoal, with prescription to mix it with water and drink. I found it not tasty so I started eating it raw ,then after, I drink water. Is it a bad habit???. Also, I eat the activated charcoal right after meals, because, I feel nausea after my meals and always eat about a tablespoon of the activated charcoal to prevent such feelings. It helps though, but is it also a bad habit.


Hi Kaffy,

Activated charcoal may help after a bad reaction from a meal but I’d suggest taking it as recommended in the article

All the best,



Hi, sometimes I go to restaurants where I may OVEREAT. When is preferable to take the charcoal? Before I got or after and how long before or after?
Thank you.


Hi Alexandre,

Fennel tea would be another great option. Preferably just before as a preventative but it also works afterwards

All the best,



Try soaking and sprouting beans. It makes them easier to digest. Also certain beans are easier on the gut such as navy beans.


Thanks for the information, I have just bought some Charcoal capsules from Holland And Barrett and the directions say to take them straight after a meal, so a little confused.


Hi Jim.

I’d say that information is incorrect. After a meal is not a good time to take activated charcoal unless perhaps with a very low quality meal full of toxins. The directions in the article were researched from medical resources and I stand by them.

All the best,



Hi! I was a little confused about the timing bit in your article. I have terrible gas after dinner that I eat around 6pm. When would be a good time to take the activated carbon capsules?

Also, can I take the capsules before drinking alcohol? Eg. at a dinner party? Thanks!


Hi Chloe,

It’s best to take activated charcoal before your meal in this case. At least an hour, preferably an hour and a half. You can take it an hour and a half after a meal but it can be less effective as the digesting food is usually in the way. It works better as a preventative and is good for absorbing alcohol byproducts taken in the same way an hour before drinking.

For quicker relief after a meal I’d suggest fennel tea

This longer article goes into some of the most common causes of bad gas

All the best,



I’m an avid fan of activated charcoal and use it for teeth whitening, but honestly wasn’t totally aware of these benefits. Thanks so much for sharing this info!


How long will it take for the activated charcoal capsules to work once I am extremely bloated and in pain.

What is the time to work between taking it on an empty stomach or after a meal where you find yourself bloated after eating.


Hi Renee,

It’s difficult to tell as it depends where the blockage is within your intestinal tract. I would estimate it usually takes 20 minutes or more, though drinking lots of water may speed this up.

A strong fennel tea is often a better choice if you are already suffering from painful bloating as many report this works with a few minutes

All the best,


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