Before we get started let’s have a short science class on activated charcoal. The short version is that activated charcoal is carbon, real organic material that has been reduced to charcoal just like a piece of hardwood burning in your campfire.
Once in charcoal form it is then crushed into a fine powder and heated at a very high temperature, a temperature that cannot be achieved by an open fire such as a campfire. Once heated it is then exposed to argon and nitrogen gasses. Finally, the charcoal is exposed to oxygen and steam, which further opens up millions of tiny pores.
There are other methods for making activated charcoal that involves chemicals, but this, in our minds, defeats the purpose, because the chemical process can and will leave behind residual chemical traces (Guardia, 2015).
You would ingest or administer activated charcoal if you know or even suspect you or someone has ingested a poison or has overdosed on a medication. The charcoal is very effective against Cyanide, Lithium, Alcohol, and Iron tablets, just to name a few.
Keep in mind if you ingest activate charcoal any medications or vitamins taken will be neutralized and removed from your system.
We are not medical doctors here, so this must not be construed as medical advice. Anything stated is merely informational. Do your due diligence and consult with a medical expert on when you should use activated charcoal, and what the proper dosage should be.
We cannot tell you to self-administer activated charcoal. However, the charcoal will not harm you according to medical experts. Do we recommend you have activated charcoal in your home and survival kits? Yes, absolutely.
Obviously call 911 if available first. The University of Michigan’s Health System recommends 50 to 100 grams, (not milligrams but grams), of activated charcoal for adults and 10 to 25 grams for children in the event of a suspected or known poisoning or overdose. Do not wait, if you suspect then administer the dosage immediately.
Activated charcoal can be used if you know or suspect food poisoning, which is usually accompanied by severe nausea and diarrhea. Use smaller does for food poisoning, and increase as needed from there if there are no positive results. For adults start with 25 grams and for children 10 grams. Patients must be given plenty of water (University of Michigan Health System, 2016).
So How Does It Work
Some might assume that the charcoal absorbs the toxins within a body. However, this is not the case. Activated charcoal works as a chemical process, which is called adsorption not to be confused with absorption. The adsorption process allows the toxins to bind to a surface and in this case, the surface is activated charcoal. This process is very effective because the toxins and chemicals cling to the charcoal as the body eliminates the charcoal through bowel movements. The toxins cling to the surface, keeping the body safe from their deadly effects.
Absorption, on the other hand, is a reaction of elements, elements which can be nutrients, chemicals, toxins and other poisons that are assimilated into the blood stream. It is important that the activated charcoal is administered as quickly as possible before the deadly elements reach the blood stream.
The very porous surface of activated charcoal has a negative charge, which allows positive charged elements, such as toxins and poisons to bond with it, cling to it in other words, as the charcoal moves through the digestive track and is eliminated as waste.
Toxins, chemicals and other contaminations in drinking water will cling to the activated charcoal’s surface just as would toxins within your body, making activated charcoal one of the best, if not the best filtering medium available. Make sure you have some in your survival kit because boiling and chemical treatment of water is not enough sometimes. Filtration removes certain toxins, chemicals, and spores that may harbor bacteria, many of which may be impervious to boiling or treatment by household bleach or purification tablets.
Use activated charcoal to control odor in shoes, latrines, on bedding, clothing and on your body. You can even brush your teeth using activated charcoal, but the abrasive nature could remove your tooth enamel if used too often. Use it to freshen up your breath, and to remove stains occasionally from your teeth.
The most practical survival uses are for poisonings, overdoses, and food poisonings and for water filtration prior to disinfecting drinking water.
Guardia, R. L. (2015). Doomsday Book Of Medicine. R. L. Guardia. Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03801 | USA: Mindstir Media LLC.
University of Michigan Health System. (2016). Retrieved 2016, from https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-5203004