The Lowdown on Activated Charcoal – The Benefits
What is Activated Charcoal?
You might have heard about activated charcoal and all its helpful benefits. It’s one of the most popular types of natural remedies available in the market. A lot of doctors rely on it to alleviate numerous problems involving the digestive system, and even major industrial corporations use it to ensure better production quality. So, all the hype might lead you to ask, what is activated charcoal? Read on if you want to find out.
Activated charcoal starts out as regular coal – the exact same type used for barbecues. As you may already know, charcoal can be produced from different materials apart from wood. Some of the most economical starting materials used to produce charcoal are sawdust, peat, bone char, coconut shells and petroleum coke.
Although both types are created using similar materials, what makes activated charcoal special is the activation process it goes through. In order to thoroughly understand this substance, you have to be familiar with the process it goes through and what this particular oxidation process does to the carbon. So, instead of simply asking what is activated charcoal, it’s better if you ask about the nature of the activation process, what kind of change takes place during, and how the physical change in carbon affects its nature.
To answer these questions, the coal goes through an oxidative process that mainly involves exposing the substance to steam/air at high temperatures. This erodes the coal’s internal surface and creates an additional network of smaller pores that increases the substance’s adsorption capacity. Once the process is done, the activated carbon becomes three times more efficient as regular charcoal in terms of its capability to adhere to various solids and toxins.
The end result basically looks like fine black powder. Due to its increased surface area and adsorptive capacity, activated carbon is used for various reasons. It is mainly used by industrial companies as well as medical laboratories. Doctors use it to treat poisonous spider and insect bites and various digestive problems. In some cases, doctors also use activated carbon to help lower cholesterol in patients. For medical reasons, activated carbon is made available in powder or in liquid form. To avoid experiencing any harmful side effects, patients should take it with proper dosage and with plenty of water.
The activated carbon’s increased adsorptive capacity is also useful in gas and chemical purification. It’s even used in several environmental applications, such as spill cleanup and water filtration.
There are more applications that require activated carbon. Although this article provides only a short glimpse of the entire complex process of oxidation, it can already clue you in as to what is activated charcoal. The substance’s main importance and relevance depends entirely on its increased surface area and adsorptive capacity.