The Benefits of Activated Charcoal - Spar Soap | Natural Soap for Combat Athletes

The Benefits of Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is having a moment. You can find it in supplements, toothpaste, and even smoothies (mmm, black sludge, anyone?). So what are the benefits of activated charcoal, and why might you want it in your soap?

First off, don’t go running to your barbecue for some briquettes. While it’s made from the same base material as the charcoal in your grill, activated charcoal is made differently. It’s created by burning carbon-rich materials like wood or peat to create charcoal. It then “activates” when treated with oxygen at very high temperatures. This increases the surface area on the charcoal by making lots of pores.

Because of all its holes and crevices, activated charcoal is great at binding to other materials. This is called “adsorption.” In fact, just one teaspoon of activated charcoal has the same surface area of a whole football field!1

Its adsorbing superpower has been known since at least 3750 B.C.E. to the ancient Egyptians2, who used it as fuel to produce bronze. They discovered its antibacterial properties by accident when they realized that charred wooden posts didn’t rot when placed into the Nile. Around 1500 B.C.E, the ancient Egyptians started using charcoal for medicinal purposes. Legendary physicians like Hippocrates and Pliny the Elder used it as a cure for all kinds of ailments. The legacy carries on today, as people continue to enjoy the benefits of activated charcoal.


activated charcoal paste  

The Skin Benefits of Activated Charcoal

Not to gross you out, but after a training session on the mats, you’re covered from head to toe in gunk. Dirt, dust, your sweat, other people’s sweat, toxins, and bacteria and fungi that are trying to make a home in your skin. If you want that unbeatable fresh feeling, you need a soap with some serious lather-power and anti-microbial properties. Read on to find out how activated charcoal soap helps keep you clean, fresh, and cootie-free.

1. Draws Up Dirt

Researchers have found that activated charcoal can draw bacteria, poisons, chemicals, dirt, and other micro-particles to the surface of the skin, making it easier to remove them3. Another study suggested that activated charcoal cleanses skin by enlarging the pores and removing dirt and dead cells4.

2. Deodorizes

Ancient Egyptians used charcoal to prevent wood from rotting, preserve corpses, and neutralize the terrible smell coming from festering wounds5 – and you thought your after-training musk was bad. Activated charcoal may "adsorb" smells, which is why it’s found in tons of deodorants and soaps today. 

3. Prevents Skin Infection

Traditional medicine practitioners from around the world have used activated charcoal powder made from coconut shells and other materials to treat skin infections. In a 2018 study, non-charcoal toothbrushes were found to have almost twice the amount of bacteria than charcoal toothbrushes after one week of use6. Activated charcoal soap may prevent bacterial growth by adsorbing microbes from wounds and surfaces.

4. Smoothes Blemishes 

Because of its high adsorption and potential antibacterial properties, activated charcoal may help fight acne. It soaks up excess oil and draws up dirt and bacteria in pores – both of which contribute to blackheads and blemishes. A 2019 study found that an activated charcoal product brightened the dark spots on hands after one month of use7.


woman with charcoal mask

Other Potential Benefits of Activated Charcoal

5. Relieves Gas 

People have used activated charcoal for hundreds of years to prevent fearsome flatulence. Before the Europeans landed in North America, some Native American tribes used powdered charcoal and water to relieve an upset stomach8. The U.S. Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia says that activated charcoal has a “marked adsorptive power of gases9.” However, few studies support using charcoal for digestive tract issues, so always talk to a doctor before doing so.

6. Filters Water

Phonecian traders around 450 B.C.E. likely stored their drinking water in charred wooden barrels because of activated charcoal’s believed purifying benefits5. Today, it’s used in many water filters because of its ability to trap impurities in water. It doesn’t bind to all particles in the water, so it is usually combined with other filtering materials. And it stops working once all of the bonding sites are filled, which is why it needs to be replaced periodically10.

7. Soothes Bites and Stings

Activated charcoal is a homeopathic favorite for soothing bug bites and stings. When made into a salve and spread over the skin, it may adsorb the venom, stingers, or offending chemicals and provide relief11.


charcoal paste and herbs



8. Treats Poison

You’ve probably heard of activated charcoal’s reputation as an anti-poison. It can bind to some toxic substances in the stomach and intestines, preventing them from being adsorbed into the body8. It is also used to induce vomiting in adults who have overdosed on certain drugs. However, it only works with certain poisons and may only work when taken within an hour of the poisoning. It may also have health risks when taken internally, so it should never be used without a doctor’s supervision!

9. Helps the Kidneys

Some animal studies have shown that activated charcoal may be able to help the kidneys filter out toxins. It is especially good at binding to urea, a byproduct of digestion, and other waste products12. More research is needed, but activated charcoal may be able to help patients with chronic kidney disease in the future.

How to Get the Benefits of Activated Charcoal Soap

Although we need more research before we can say for sure that activated charcoal soap improves skin and prevents infection, it’s safe to say this lump of coal is NOT on the naughty list. Its adsorbing abilities make it a promising ingredient in skin-care products, and no studies have noted any negative side effects when used on the skin. 

Activated charcoal packs a punch on its own, but we’ve combined it with other well known fungus-fighters and bacteria-busters like tea tree, lemongrass, peppermint, and rosemary essential oils. Order your bar today to stay clean, stay on the mats, and smell good doing it! 



  1. Activated Charcoal: An Effective Treatment for Poisonings
  2. Charcoal is one of the most important substances ever discovered
  5. The History of Activated Charcoal: 3750B.C. to 21st century.
  6. Comparison of Bacterial Contamination and Antibacterial Efficacy in Bristles of Charcoal Toothbrushes versus Noncharcoal Toothbrushes: A Microbiological Study
  7. Charcoal, Activated 
  8. The Homœopathic Pharmacopœia of the United States
  9. What is activated charcoal and why is it used in filters? 
  10. A Natural Health Care Staple: Activated Charcoal 
  11. Role of activated charcoal in limiting the progression of chronic kidney disease in experimental albino rats