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I Drank Charcoal Powder For A Week

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a sucker for health trends. When the internet suddenly decides that juice cleanses will extend my life by 40 years, or that not eating gluten will cure my anxiety, I listen.

I don’t know why exactly: I’m both curious and skeptical by nature, so when half of my health and fitness Instagram pages start posting about adding turmeric to their morning smoothies, I feel like I have to give it a try too.

Does it work? Are they lying? I have to know for myself. Which is why I’ve spent more money than I’m comfortable admitting on the internet over the past five years of my life purchasing various potions and powders and cold-pressed everything in hunt of the health trends that actually work.

My latest obsession has been with activated charcoal. Yes, charcoal.

Credit: WebMD

“The stuff Santa puts in your stockings if you’re naughty?” Kind of.

According to Medicalnewstoday.com, “making activated charcoal involves heating carbon-rich materials, such as wood, peat, coconut shells, or sawdust, to very high temperatures.”

The result, the website writes, is an “extremely absorbent” and “toxin absorbing” fine black powder that is “often used in emergency rooms to treat overdoses.”

More recently, mainstream media has picked up on the toxin-fighting properties of activated charcoal and started promoting the sale of it to be used for a number of other beauty regimes.

The one I tried involves mixing the powder into water and drinking it.

Credit: Medicalnewstoday

Sounds gross, I know. Nevertheless, the benefits listed by various health websites (and some of my favorite health and fitness influencers over social media) were too good for me to pass up.

Skin improvement, kidney health, teeth whitening, and overall toxin removal are just a few of benefits that can be reaped from ingesting the powder. So, like I’ve done many times before, I logged onto Amazon and typed ‘activated charcoal’ into the search bar. Because Amazon is Amazon, I got about a thousand results. Different brands, different prices, some of the powders even advertised different uses -– some okay to ingest, but some not. I pictured writing an article in a week titled, “I Drank A Facemask For A Week, Now I Only Have Three Days To Live.”

Finally, after much confirmation that I was buying a product safe for drinking, I bought a one-pound bag of activated charcoal powder.

Credit: Amazon

Three days later (thank you, Amazon Prime) my package came. The brand I ordered was extra careful with packaging the powder. After unwrapping the Amazon packaging, I had four more layers of bags (yes, a bag within a bag within a bag within a bag) before I could actually access the product.

At first, I thought it seemed excessive. And then I touched the powder. Let me tell you, this stuff gets everywhere. And once it gets everywhere, it stays everywhere.

The powder is incredibly fine and absolutely stark black. When you’re first unwrapping your package, please, for the love of all stain-removers, do not wear any light-colored clothing. Any fleck of this powder that lands on your clothes is going to be a pain to remove.

What worked for me was keeping the bag(s) standing upright in the bottom drawer of my desk, that way there was no chance for any spillage. When going to scoop up the powder to add to my drink, I made sure to hover my cup close to the bag to minimize the chance of staining every item in my dorm I care about.

Now if you’re going to mix your charcoal powder with water as I did, I’d also recommend getting a throw-away cup you don’t mind totally staining. The first day of my little experiment I mixed the charcoal in my reusable water bottle and spent 20 minutes trying to wash everything out of it later.

Credit: Veganlifeblog


So, after one week of drinking this supposed all-powerful elixir, here’s what I found:

1. Charcoal tastes like nothing.

2. Charcoal will stain in and around your mouth. It will whiten your teeth and blacken your lips, so make sure you have a makeup wipe on hand.

3. There is truth to the idea that it brightens your skin. Slightly.

4.  It makes you feel really healthy.

5.  Aside from the placebo effects of feeling like a health goddess, I didn’t really notice anything spectacular happen.


Granted, I’ve only been doing this for a week. Perhaps more long-term use yields better results. I am a sucker for health trends and this one was fun to experiment with! 


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Audrey Martin is a first-year student in the College of Communication at Boston University studying journalism.
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