Activated charcoal has so many applications. It often used by emergency personnel to treat acute poisoning, and is great for absorbing toxins. I’ve used to treat everything from the stomach flu to a brown recluse spider bite. I’ve even read that it can stop an anaphylactic reaction from stings or severe food allergies (studies have shown activated charcoal will absorb peanut proteins and stop anaphylaxis). I actually carry a bottle of activated charcoal in my purse at all times. It’s definitely a must-have for your first aid kits. And wouldn’t it be great if you knew how to make activated charcoal yourself?
Making activated charcoal at home is a little labor intensive, but I think it’s a skill worth having at least basic knowledge of just in case you can’t buy it. You will need to have calcium chloride in order to turn regular homemade charcoal into activated carbon.
Here’s how to make activated charcoal:
Step 1: Grind homemade charcoal into a fine powder using a pestle and mortar.
If you don’t already know how to make homemade charcoal, google is your friend.
Step 2: Make a calcium chloride solution.
In a glass jar, combine 100g calcium chloride with 300 ml of water, or use a 1:3 ratio.
Screw a tight lid onto the jar and swirl to combine. Use caution, the solution will get very hot. You will probably need to open the lid to release some of the gases, and then tighten it back down and swirl more until well combined.
Step 3: Combine the powdered charcoal with the calcium chloride solution.
Slowly pour the calcium chloride solution into a bowl of powdered charcoal (approx. 2-3 cups). Use a glass or stainless steel bowl. Aluminum might possibly react to the chemicals being combined.
Mix until paste forms.
Step 4: Cover the mixture and allow to sit for 24 hours.
Step 5: Dump the paste onto a blanket to dry.
Baby blankets, t-shirts, and bed sheets work well for this. You want to use something that is 100% cotton and has a tight weave so the paste doesn’t seep through. Don’t use anything that smells like laundry detergent or bleach because these compounds will react with the activated charcoal and will make it less effective.
Allow the paste to air dry overnight.
Step 6: Rinse the charcoal mixture.
Place the blanket over a bowl and pour clean water (approx. 6 cups) over the charcoal mixture to rinse. It’s important that purified water is used so as not to add anything to the charcoal which would cause it to react. Reverse osmosis filtered water works great. If using municipal water you’ll need to run it through a carbon filter to remove any chlorine, such as a Berkey filter.
Step 7: Recover lost carbon.
During the straining process, some of the carbon (activated charcoal) will escape through the blanket and will end up in the water in the bowl. To recover this lost carbon, pour the liquid through a coffee filter.
Step 8: Dry in the oven.
Place the coffee filter with the captured carbon, as well as the carbon from the blanket onto a baking tray and bake at 250*F for 30 minutes.
The finished product should be a light powder, and completely dry.
Store in an airtight container. Activated charcoal lasts pretty much indefinitely as long as it doesn’t come into contact with anything that will cause it to react.