What Is Activated Charcoal, How It Works and Where to Buy It

Activated charcoal powder and capsules are one of the best emergency flatulence remedies available. But what is it, how does it work and where can you buy it?

Here’s what activated charcoal is, how it helps to stop intestinal gas and where to buy the best charcoal capsules and bulk carbon powder.

How Is Activated Charcoal Made?

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.

Food grade charcoal powder, sometimes called USP grade, like this one made from USA organic coconut shells, is a deep black powder with very fine particles. It is odorless and relatively tasteless and should have less than 4% ash residue.Charcoal for farting

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 properties.

Activated carbon is usually made from coconut shells, bamboo or hardwood. 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 a highly porous molecular structure with a massive surface area for absorption. Just one teaspoon of activated charcoal powder will typically have a surface area the size of a football field.

For therapeutic uses, activated charcoal comes in either a fine powder, granules, tablets or capsules.

I personally much prefer charcoal capsules, like these best sellers I use, over tablets for their superior dispersion. Capsules are also a lot easier to take than powder and you don’t risk getting it on your teeth (though charcoal is a great teeth whitener).

No matter what form you choose, always take it with a big glass of water two hours away from food and particularly medications and supplements.

Using Charcoal for Intestinal Gas

Charcoal is a popular flatulence remedy for good reason. When you take food grade activated charcoal it travels through your 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 (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 can absorb other compounds that cause gastrointestinal problems and is often successfully used as a treatment for IBS and diarrhea.

Tablets or Capsules?

Charcoal tablets are popular but I personally prefer and recommend capsules over tablets for two reasons.

Firstly, the capsules will naturally disburse more quickly in your stomach than tablets.

As explained in how to take charcoal, it’s important to take activated carbon on an empty stomach, well away from food, so you can’t rely on a tablet mixing with food to break it up.

Activated charcoal should always be taken with a large glass of water, which will further help capsules to break apart and release their contents. The same can’t be said for tablets though.

The second reason is that capsules don’t usually have the binding agents that are required for tablets so you’re generally getting more of the product for your dollar with capsules versus tablets.

Where to Buy Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is relatively inexpensive for just how effective it is at relieving gastrointestinal problems and absorbing toxins from our body.

Here’s the best places I’ve found to get activated charcoal online in easy to take capsules and bulk food-grade powder.

Best Capsules

NaturaLife Labs use organic coconut shells to make high quality activated carbon capsules available here at Amazon. They’re great value for the large 1200 mg serving size.

These are a good choice for occasional use and it’s worth keeping a bottle at work as well as home if you find it beneficial for digestive problems.

Bulk Activated Carbon Powder

Bulk Carbon Powder

If you prefer activated charcoal powder for teeth whitening, skin treatments, or to keep an emergency supply for accidental poisoning, then bulk powder provides the best value.

Schizandu Organics sell a high quality activated hardwood charcoal powder, made in the USA from American Fir trees. Read the customer feedback and pictures of their results here for this very popular food grade powder.

Drinking Charcoal Powder

You can use a small amount of the powder mixed into a glass of water for an inexpensive way to get all the digestive benefits of activated charcoal.

It’s also great for preventing hangovers if you drink it before you go to bed after a big night of too many alcoholic drinks.

There’s no taste to activated carbon powder so no need to sweeten it. Just add a small amount, such as a quarter of a teaspoon, stir it up and drink it down.

Whitening Teeth

Many people report brushing your teeth with activated charcoal powder is a great way to whiten your teeth. It takes consistent application but the results are noticeable over time.

Just a little on the end of your toothbrush gently lifts off and polishes away plaque and yellow stains far more effectively than whitening toothpastes.

Capsules can also be opened for the same purpose but powder is much better value and lasts for many months, even for regular users.

Hardwood or Coconut Shell Activated Carbon?

Some sources recommend activated charcoal made from coconut shells as being slightly more porous and absorptive than activated carbon made from hardwood. Other authorities maintain there is little difference.

If you’d prefer to use charcoal powder made from coconut shells then Schizandu Organics also make this popular steam activated alkaline charcoal from USA organic coconuts.

Ultra-fine powders like this have exceptionally high adsorption rates and far outperform cheap bamboo charcoal alternatives.

Activated Charcoal for Farting

Activated carbon, whether taken as capsules or powder, can be extremely effective for quickly relieving digestive upsets and smelly gas problems.

It does, however, have to be taken at certain times and in a certain way that makes it less suited for everyday use than fennel tea or ginger tea. Ideally, it’s best kept as an occasional, but powerful flatulence remedy.

I hope this article has answered what activated charcoal is, why it’s so good for intestinal gas and the best brands to buy.

There’s detailed instructions for how to take activated charcoal for gas here and some important things to consider before using it.

This article may contain affiliate links to products I've researched and recommend. As an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to the consumer.
Photo credit with thanks: Zephyris and Wikimedia

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments

Where can l get charcoal capsules in Ghana

James Dillan

Hi Mel,

I’ve never read of anyone else having these symptoms. Since activated charcoal is proven to absorb hydrogen sulphide (rotten egg gas) and not be metabolised by the body in any way it should, and many other people report does, have the opposite effect.

If this is what you are experiencing then I’d avoid it and try an alternative like fennel tea https://flatulencecures.com/what-is-fennel-tea-good-for

All the best,


Lisa King

Could you please tell me if these tablets are natural? I want them for long term use, I have bought some from holland and barret, which is supposed to be all natural, yet from what I am reading on line it is not a natural product.

James Dillan

Hi Lisa,

The activated charcoal recommended in this article https://flatulencecures.com/where-to-buy-activated-charcoal is made from coconut or bamboo that is superheated to change the structure and make it highly absorbant. The original base material is natural but you would not find it in this form in nature and should not use regular charcoal for this purpose. Only activated charcoal, which is not metabolized by the body in any way.

All the best,



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