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Activated Charcoal Uses

Activated Charcoal Uses

Activated charcoal is made from carbon, and is extremely porous. This renders it useful for various purposes, including medicine. Read on to know more...
Medha Godbole
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2018
Carbon is a wonder element, and needless to say, it is a part of innumerable chemical reactions in the environment and even in our own body. Activated charcoal refers to an extremely porous form of carbon. This gives it a large surface area for absorption or reacting with other substances. Carbon is either processed with gases like oxygen or carbon di-oxide, or it is treated with certain chemicals to get activated charcoal. Here's how this form of carbon is used for the benefit of mankind.

What is Activated Charcoal Used For?

Medicinal Uses
The first and foremost use is seen in the treatment of poisoning. To be specific, overdoses and poisoning following oral ingestion are cured using activated charcoal. It is deemed to prevent the absorption of the poison by the gastrointestinal tract by binding to the poison. In addition to this, it is believed to reduce blood alcohol content, if it is ingested before consumption of ethanol. It can also be very effective if you are suffering from diarrhea, flatulence, or indigestion. Sometimes, though very rarely, it is useful in filtering out harmful drugs from the blood stream. It also seems to be helpful in detoxification of the body, and is a common constituent of colon-cleansing products.

It is believed to be particularly helpful for bowel disorders, since it absorbs much of the damaging substances itself. Anti-aging properties, reduction of cholesterol, and antiviral activity are other apparent effects. Elaborating about its anti-aging properties, this form of carbon prevents body tissues from going through specific cellular processes linked with aging. But all said and done, it is advisable not to start with an activated charcoal treatment without consulting a reliable doctor, as there is a flip side as well.

Industry and Environment

Gas Purification
When it comes to chemical industry, this substance has an important role to play. For instance, air filters with activated charcoal are used for purification of compressed air and gas. This helps in the removal of oil vapors, hydrocarbons, and odor from it. These filters are also used to retain radioactive gases from a nuclear boiling-water reactor's turbine condenser. When it comes to purification, activated charcoal is helpful in purifying sodium acetate, a benign homemade chemical.

Storage of Fuel
Fuel Storage is another area where researchers see a lot of potential in activated charcoal, on account of its absorption qualities. In fact, the prospect of storing gas in activated charcoal seems very feasible and practical, as the gas can be stored at low-pressure and low-volume conditions. This is definitely convenient as compared to storing it in bulky, on-board compression tanks in vehicles.

As far as agriculture is concerned, this carbon compound is quite significant. It is used to detoxify soil or water when growing plants. Another benefit of this form of carbon is that it helps plants get rid of pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides applied to the soil. With regards to environmental impact, the absorption has lots of uses, the most important one being the removal of pollutants from the air. The others are water filtration and groundwater remediation, etc.

All these uses are being heavily researched, since it can prove to be a significant breakthrough in today's world. Generally, if used appropriately, it seems to have a lot of positives for our health and our environment.