Bird's eye view of a mug with activated charcoal latte art of a leaf.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Dumlao/​Unsplash

When it comes to the not-so-fun ailments that activated charcoal can help relieve, the list is pretty far-reaching (think: bloating, cramping, high cholesteral, even poisoning). And while it’s been used for centuries (ancient Egyptians took advantage of its antifungal properties, while the Phoenicians used it to treat their drinking water), the ingredient has taken on new life as a go-to for modern-day afflictions (Opens in a new window).

Think of it as a super-powered magnet that can collect a range of particles and gases in the body — and then drag them out. While the ingredient might look intimidating, incorporating it into your at-home wellness routine is surprisingly easy. Activated charcoal — which, PSA, is different from the charcoal you pick up at the supermarket for your grill (that stuff can actually be toxic) — is available in both powder and capsule form. Keep a stash of it in your pantry and you’ll be ready to whip up a skin-boosting, body-balancing blend without leaving the house.

Just a heads up: activated charcoal is so powerful because it binds to harmful toxins in your body and draws them out (a process called adsorbtion (Opens in a new window)), but that also means it can remove important nutrients as well. So be wary of ingesting activated charcoal within two hours of taking any medication. And it can cause, ahem, constipation, so make sure you’re pairing your DIY remedies with loads of water. (Besides, staying hydrated is always a good idea.)

Ready for some magic? Here are three DIY recipes showcasing all-mighty activated charcoal:

A Detoxifying Drink


2 cups of cold water
1/2 Tbsp agave or maple syrup
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp activated charcoal
Pinch of Himalayan salt

Combine all ingredients in a cup. Stir and serve!

Skin-Boosting Face Mask


1 Tbsp bentonite clay
1 Tbsp activated charcoal
2 Tbsp Greek yogurt

Combine the bentonite clay and activated charcoal in a small bowl and mix to combine. Slowly add in Greek yogurt until it reaches a thick, paste-like consistency. Spread the mixture on your face with a brush (or use your fingers!) and let it sit for 10 minutes before removing. 

Rejuvenating Bath Soak


1 cup Epsom salt
1 cup finely ground sea salt
1/4 cup baking soda
1/2 teaspoon activated charcoal
12 drops lemon essential oil

Combine the Epsom salt, sea salt, baking soda, and activated charcoal in a bowl. Draw a hot bath and stir in the mixture. Add the essential oil (fee free to sub in your favorite fragrance), get in the bath, and soak for at least 15 minutes.

Articles from The Natural should not be considered medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please consult a medical professional.