How to Make Activated Charcoal and How to Use It Correctly?

If you enjoy making household remedies, then you might want to learn how to make activated charcoal. It’s pretty cool stuff, we don’t blame you for wanting to know!

Activated charcoal uses vary considerably, and it may surprise you how effective it is. Besides, if you enjoy a little homemade chemistry, learning how to make it is a lot of fun.

The natural world is a beautiful thing full of incredible materials that benefit humankind. Activated charcoal is one of the fantastic products made from natural ingredients that prove its usefulness through many applications. With a little bit of know-how and some scientific magic, you will soon discover how to make activated charcoal.

cooking pots hanging on top of a campfire in a camping area outdoor

How to Make Activated Charcoal At Home?

While learning how to make activated charcoal may not seem like a quick lesson, it’s fascinating. The miracle of chemistry opens up a world of astounding possibilities, and the chance to make it at home is an exciting one. After you learn to do it, you can use it for all kinds of everyday tasks.

Follow these steps:

  1. Begin by burning wood in a large metal pot.
  2. Let it cool.
  3. Wash the resultant charcoal.
  4. When the charcoal is dry, grind the charcoal into a fine powder.
  5. Add a combination of calcium chloride and water.
  6. Finally, cook the mixture.

We will get into specifics below. Learning how to make activated charcoal may sound complicated. However, once you understand the basics, you may quickly produce it.

What is an Activated Charcoal?

a powdered charcoal with white background - How to Make Activated Charcoal

You create activated charcoal from carbon-rich materials, such as wood, burned at high temperatures to produce a blackened charcoal substance. The charcoal activates through a further process involving the burning of chlorine chemicals. The final stage consists of cooking the resultant material in a dilute acid solution.

Benefits of Activated Charcoal

It has a larger surface area than regular charcoal due to the process it undergoes. Because of charcoal properties, activated charcoal with its increased surface area proves far more beneficial than the standard non-activated type.

If you compare the same weight of regular charcoal to activated charcoal, the activated variety will possess a far greater surface area despite having the same weight.

The activation process creates a network of pores across the charcoal grains, increasing its surface area.

Activated Charcoal Uses

a man wearing a denim long sleeve is looking at a container with a grassy background - How to Make Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a fine, odorless black powder used for numerous applications. Many emergency rooms use activated carbon in overdose cases because of the incredible absorption properties of the substance. It can suck out the toxins from the system.

Dissolved in water, and drinking the activated carbon introduces it into the system. Consequently, the material acts like a sponge, and the toxin particles bind to the surface of the activated carbon before the body expels it.

If you suffer from gas, it may help to alleviate the condition. The particles are to neutralize the gas, thus eliminating the condition and any associated smells.

Important Reminder For Activated Charcoal

Don’t forget to consult your doctor or a vet if you choose to use activated charcoal medicinal products for either yourself or your pets.

Safety at all times remains a prime factor before you try out any additional treatments to your regular routines. Now, let’s get into what you might be able to do with this awesome substance.

Activated Carbon Uses Around the Home

You may feel surprised to learn that activated carbon appears in many products we use around the home. Toothpaste represents a prime example as activated carbon toothpaste proves an excellent whitener. Adding a tiny amount of finely ground-down activated charcoal to your toothpaste gives it antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Activated carbon acts as a superb water filtration because it will remove any toxins from the water. Commercial settings use activated carbon filtration systems, and many of our home water dispensers employ activated carbon to purify our drinking water.

As a skincare product, activated charcoal works to draw out fine microparticles such as dust, dirt, and toxins from the pores of your skin. Consequently, the process makes the pollutants easy to remove, giving you beautiful clear skin.

Activated Charcoal: Handy tips for the garden

Use activated carbon in your soil by digging in small amounts where you intend to plant.

The absorbent nature of activated charcoal means that it will absorb fertilizer and slowly release it into the soil. Consequently, you may gain a superior crop because the activated charcoal slowly releases the fertilizer.


a pile of leftover fruit peels in a wooden box

Adding activated charcoal to compost may help keep the compost sweeter. If you grow crops in containers, then the soil may sour quickly. The activated carbon will help the compost last longer and absorb any nutrients added to the pot to release them slowly back into the plant.

Treatment for rashes

Activated charcoal comes into its own on the homestead as a treatment for poison ivy and poison oak remedies. The common plants secret a poison that some may react to, and activated carbon can provide a natural remedy. The toxin-binding properties of activated charcoal combined with coconut oil used as a poultice will draw out the poison.

A handy tip for air purification

Why not use activated carbon around your home as an air purifier? Wrap some activated carbon in a linen pouch or a sock and place the parcel in the offending room. The pouch will quickly absorb any offending smells to leave clean air.

A smart trick is to place the pouch next to a fan. The fan will move the air around the activated charcoal and purify the air as it moves.

Try adding 500 milligrams of powdered activated carbon to 12 fluid ounces of water to create a natural remedy for bloating. The potion will aid in the relief of bloating symptoms and excessive gas.

Activated Charcoal Uses For Pets

a golden retriever puppy with a collar on the neck

If you have dogs or cats, then activated charcoal may prove a beneficial natural remedy to have at hand. Activated charcoal helps treat many conditions afflicting our pets and forms an essential ingredient to keep in our cabinets.

Parvo and vaccines

Puppies may suffer from a severe condition called Parvo, which may lead to dangerous levels of dehydration. Activated carbon proves an efficient remedy in the treatment of the virus.

While most of us vaccinate our pets to protect them, sometimes the animal may react to the vaccination. Activated charcoal may help to reduce the symptoms of vaccine reactions and draw out the toxins.

Stomach troubles

As any of us who own a pet, we know all too well the results of stomach upsets. The condition can lead to smelly, unpleasant accidents around the home.

Capsules made from activated charcoal can significantly help with stomach upsets with our pets and reduce diarrhea incidents.

Pet attacks

Depending on where you live, your animals may find themselves suspectable to bites from insects or even snakes. The use of an activated carbon poultice will draw out the poison and any resulting infection.

Activated Charcoal: Handy tips for pets

Activated charcoal remains completely harmless when ingested. Consequently, you cannot harm your pet by overdosing. However, your pet may experience constipation as a side effect.

Ensure your pet drinks plenty of water when you treat them with activated charcoal. The additional water will help the pets’ bowels to work efficiently.


2 white and 1 black chicken inside a hen house

Use activated charcoal with your chicken feed to gain healthier chickens. Furthermore, the activated charcoal will generate good-quality chicken manure.

Activated carbon is particularly useful around the homestead as it helps to cure many of the stomachs upsets that affect our animals. Chickens and ducks will react particularly favorably to activated carbon in their food.

Learn How to Make Activated Charcoal

Now that we understand the useful applications of activated charcoal around the home and with our pets, it’s time to understand how to make it.

Start with a fire

As you may understand, the process is best started outside in the open. Build a medium-sized fire making sure to take all the necessary safety precautions.

The fire needs to burn for several hours but should not be hot enough to cause your materials to burn away in the pot.

Fill a pot

Pack a metal pot full of small pieces of hardwood. Ensure to ram the pot tight with wood but not so much as to prevent the lid from fitting.

The pot’s lid must have a hole for ventilation to allow the air inside the vessel to escape. However, no other airflow must be present during this process.

Make sure that the wood material is dry before you place it inside the pot.

Slow cooker

You will need to cook the wood over a steady heat for three to five hours until the wood inside the pot is reduced to blackened charcoal.

A promising sign that the process is complete comes from the lack of smoke or gas escaping through the vent hole.

A little patience

You will need to demonstrate a little patience as you allow the freshly made charcoal to cool down. Once the charcoal is safe to touch, you may transfer the material to a clean container.

Rinse the charcoal in cool water to remove any residual ash and debris before leaving it to drain and dry out completely.

Elbow grease

The next stage involves a little bit of muscle power. You need to grind the charcoal down into a fine powder. Use either a pestle and mortar to achieve the desired consistency or a mallet to hammer to crush the charcoal inside a durable plastic bag.

You need to leave the crushed charcoal to dry out completely for 24 hours at the end of this stage. Spread the mixture out on a tray and leave it in a cool, dry place.

Activating the carbon

The process of activating the carbon may seem fiddly, but follow this ratio, and you cannot go wrong.

You will need calcium chloride and water mixed in a 1:3 ratio. For example, if you have 600 ml of water you want 200 grams of calcium chloride The solution will get very hot, so wear protective gloves and proceed with caution.

You need enough of the solution to cover the powdered charcoal completely.

You may purchase calcium chloride from most hardware stores and home centers. However, another alternative exists.

Use a lemon

Bleach or lemon juice proves an effective alternative to calcium chloride. Use the same ratio of one part bleach or lemon juice to three parts water to make your solution.

Witches brew

Combine the calcium chloride solution and the charcoal in a stainless-steel bowl. Add the liquid solution to the charcoal in small batches, continuously stirring as you do so.

Your aim here is to create a consistency like toothpaste. Once you achieve the paste, then allow the mixture to sit covered for 24 hours.


Once the mixture has brewed for 24 hours, you will need to drain away any excess moisture. Allow the liquid to drain out through a muslin cloth. The concoction should remain wet but not saturated.

The final cook-off of Activated Charcoal

Once you have drained away any excess liquid, transfer the sludge into a clean metal pot. Re-light your fire and place the pot over the flames to cook for three hours. The pot’s contents need to come to a boil to activate, so ensure the flames remain hot enough to bring it up to temperature.

Once cooked, allow the mixture to dry out thoroughly. Consequently, you have created a batch of activated carbon for numerous applications.

Activated Charcoal Explored

As we have discovered, activated carbon has various uses around the home and proves a useful remedy for our pets. Whether used as an air purifier or as a relief for gas, activated charcoal has many medicinal properties and household applications.

By burning the wood in a pot until it turns black and then treating it with lemon juice or bleach, you may easily make your activated charcoal. Use a meat mallet and a plastic bag to grind your charcoal to a fine powder before giving it its final cook to activate the charcoal.

The material forms a natural product that we may find in everyday items such as water filters and toothpaste. However, we now understand how to make activated charcoal, and we may soon create our own to use around the house or for medicinal purposes.

Do you have any handy tips for the use of activated charcoal? Perhaps you would like to share with us your recommendations for the use of this handy substance. If so, then why not leave a comment in the space below we would love to hear from you.

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Katy Willis is a writer, lifelong homesteader, and master herbalist, master gardener, and canine nutritionist. Katy is a preparedness expert and modern homesteader practicing everyday preparedness, sustainability, and a holistic lifestyle.

She knows how important it is to be prepared for whatever life throws at you, because you just never know what's coming. And preparedness helps you give your family the best chance to thrive in any situation.

Katy is passionate about living naturally, growing food, keeping livestock, foraging, and making and using herbal remedies. Katy is an experienced herbalist and a member of the CMA (Complementary Medical Association).

Her preparedness skills go beyond just being "ready", she's ready to survive the initial disaster, and thrive afterward, too. She grows 100% organic food on roughly 15 acres and raises goats, chickens, and ducks. She also lovingly tends her orchard, where she grows many different fruit trees. And, because she likes to know exactly what she's feeding her family, she's a seasoned from-scratch cook and gluten-free baker.

Katy teaches foraging and environmental education classes, too, including self-sufficient living, modern homesteading, seed saving, and organic vegetable gardening.

Katy helps others learn forgotten skills, including basic survival skills and self-reliance.

She's been published on sites such as MSN, Angi, Home Advisor, Family Handyman, Wealth of Geeks, Readers Digest, and more.

9 thoughts on “How to Make Activated Charcoal and How to Use It Correctly?”

  1. Thank you for the thorough article. Some snarky responses from others, but in the old world, sure go to Walmart. Now a days it makes sense to make, when it makes sense. Not every day or every item, but sometimes ya just need a smart guy to splain the process which you did excellently. Again, thank you. I’ll be using it on my ZOMBIE bites. lmoa, really thank you.

  2. I’m confused about draining the sludge and still having enough liquid to boil it for 3 hours!

    Also, doesn’t this boiling dry out the powder? Do I turn around the sludge during boiling to prevent it from burning?


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