Old Apothecary Shop (photo from http://scottsvillemuseum.com/business/homecg93cdcg08.html)

Activated charcoal is an absolute must on any farm — whether rural or urban — and in any natural-living home.   Here at the Urban Homestead, we keep it on hand for many things as it has so many uses.  It is the best antidote for poisoning and can actually save one’s  life! However, call Poison Control or a hospital for a recommended dose for the type of poison ingested. The great thing about activated charcoal is that it can be used safely by infants for colic and seniors for diabetic ulcers.  It is an absolute must have when traveling overseas and we recommend that you “don’t leave home without it”!

As a paste applied topically, it can draw out poisons from an insect bite lie spiders, bees or wasps.  It is also good to apply whenever you have an attack of gout. But be careful when applying activated charcoal to broken skin as it may leave a tattoo effect on the skin.  To play it safe, apply  activated charcoal as a poultice,  if in doubt, to the skin.  Additionally, it is the BEST thing to use to whiten your teeth.  Simply put your regular natural toothpaste on your brush and dip it in some powdered activated charcoal, slightly moisten it and brush as usual,  Within a short amount of time it will substantially whiten your teeth and even help remove long standing plaque.  It is great for both teeth and gums and will not harm either.  We personally recommend activated charcoal for tooth whitening over over the counter whitening strips and even baking soda which can be somewhat hard on teeth and the delicate tissues of both mouth and gums.  Sometimes we use a Q-tip with activated charcoal on it to scrub the teeth seriously and to avoid the potential of damaging the gums with the tooth brush bristles. It is also used as a facial to help oily skin.

Taken internally, it can also remove the uric acid build up which causes gout and remove some  heavy metals like mercury and lead.   It will help whenever you overeat or over drink and adsorb the toxins and aid in controlling acid reflux and other gastrointestinal distresses.  It can eliminate gas, vomiting and diarrhea. Simply take the charcoal until the symptoms disappear.  Sometimes you have to experiment to see how much works for you.  There is no danger of overdosing on charcoal.  The only thing we would recommend is the the amount of water intake be increased to help prevent constipation when taking activated charcoal.  There is no evidence that activated charcoal interferes with your body’s ability to use  vitamins and minerals from food. However, it is best taken away from foods as food in the stomach will slow down the effectiveness of the charcoal. Also, please check with your doctor before taking it if you are on prescription drugs. Charcoal can interfere with your prescription’s performance.

It is safe for pets and livestock too .  It is advised that you contact your vet before administering a dose to check on the amount needed.  The usual recommended dose of activated charcoal for all species of animals is 1-3 grams of charcoal per 1 kg body weight.

It is great to destroy household odors.  The best way is to make sachets filled with activated charcoal or punch holes in a can or jar and fill with charcoal.  For such intensive use, it would be beneficial to buy activated charcoal in bulk powdered form

We have personally administered charcoal to ourselves here on the homestead for many reasons and can personally attest to its effectiveness.  And our resident vet, Jordanne, has successfully administered charcoal to our menagerie of animals to relieve their upset stomachs, cuts, infections etc.

If you are interested in buying some charcoal, use this coupon code JUL 275 for $5.00 OFF your first purchase at iherb.com.




  1. Ginger says:

    I used it many years ago with my youngest son in a case of orbital cellulitus. It was way cheaper than the first time he had it and spent 5 days in the hospital on IVs. Good stuff. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Chris says:

    “punch holes in a car … and fill with charcoal” … seems a bit of a drastic way to eliminate odors 🙂

    • Anais Dervaes says:

      whoops, sorry typo. it’s been corrected – thanks for pointing out. 🙂

  3. Joy Giles says:

    My dad was a POW in Germany during World War II. He told of a story about how he and many he was with on a forced march came down with a stomach bug. There was only a small bottle of medicine for a large group. The POW “medic” decided the best way to care for the whole group was to place a bit of the medicine on a piece of charcoal for each to eat. All got eventually. (Sidebar — my dad will be 90 in January and is still going strong.)

    • Anais Dervaes says:

      What an amazing story! Thanks for sharing. Wishing your father many, many more strong years! Blessings 🙂

  4. Leesi T. says:

    Hello! Thank you for the post. As I was brushing my teeth with charcoal, I started thinking. If “charred” food is toxic and can cause cancer, won’t charcoal, since they are both just burnt stuff? Thanks for your time!

    • Anais Dervaes says:

      “I heard that charcoal can be carcinogenic. Is that true?”

      Question from audience – Healthy Life Expo, Minneapolis, Minnesota
      October 2006

      This is not an unusual question. The answer is no, activated charcoal is not carcinogenic. In fact it is used in hospitals to help control the anemia that is often associated with cancer. We have received letters form individuals who report that cancers have decreased in size or disappeared using charcoal for themselves or their pets.

      The concern about charcoal being carcinogenic stems from its connection to barbequing. This is the connection: When the fat from barbequed meat, poultry, or fish, drips onto the super hot coals it vaporizes. Because of the intense heat the vaporized fat is chemically changed into benzopyrenes which are extremely carcinogenic. These compounds project onto and potentially contaminate the meat. But the formation of these chemicals is dependant on the heat not the source of heat. In actual fact, charcoal adsorbs cancer-producing agents such as methylcholanthrene and benzopyrene, which, when free on the skin, are capable of producing skin cancer.


      • Mercy says:

        Last year my mother in law was diagnosed with stage 4 fungative breast cancer. We came to know about charcoal through charcoalremedy.com. At that time she had already started her chemo, we asked to use the charcoal poultice everyday on her breast and had her take some internally. This helped her tremendously. Her wound dried up within weeks and she never had the side effect of the chemo. By God’s grace now she is doing very good. I would recommend using activated charcoal for cancer. It is an amazing thing to have at home.

  5. Anna says:

    I had no idea there were so many uses for charcoal! I need to look into that…

    I write about homesteading, homemaking, and DIY in my blog, Patchwork Radicals. Check it out if you like.

    Take care!

  6. Amanda says:

    I only see capsules on the iherb website. Do you buy it in capsule form and grind it, or can it be bought in powdered form?

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