What is Activated Charcoal?

The simple answer: it is the charcoal made from different sources such as wood, coconut shell, bamboo, or coal, that is then “activated”, with steam or acid. This process carves away the internal structure of the charcoal particles producing a much higher [internal] surface area. This “activated charcoal” is then used in thousands of applications primarily to adsorb unwanted chemicals so that they can be neutralized or removed completely from the product that is being “cleaned”.

What is the difference between hardwood, coconut, bamboo, or coal?

Disregarding costs, each raw material has its own unique characteristics that make them more suitable for some applications than others. When activated, the various grades of charcoal produce unique internal pore structures that accommodate different sized molecules. For example coconut activated charcoal works very well for air and vapour applications that target odour control, while coal-based activated charcoal works well for colour removal.

What is the difference between “activated charcoal” and “activated carbon”?

There is no difference. Activated charcoal tends to be the lay term. “Activated carbon” is more commonly used in the manufacturing/technical sectors. Other terms are activated coal. Sometimes “active” is substituted for “activated”.

Does it expire?

If left exposed to the environment, in time, activated charcoal will adsorb various pollutants and eventually “fill up.” Otherwise, if stored securely, there is no expiration limit.

Is it Food Grade?

Activated Charcoal is considered GRAS ? “Generally Recognized As Safe”. More than this, some manufacturers may go a step farther and have their product certified under several different agencies such as NSF, USP, UL, ASTM, ANSI, AWWA…All the activated charcoal sold by purelyBlack.com is food grade and certificated by NFS

What is the difference between Virgin or reactivated or regenerated charcoal?

Virgin activated charcoal is the original product that has never been used. All the activated charcoal sold by purelyBlack.com is virgin activated carbon.

Reactivated charcoal is activated charcoal that has finished its lifespan in a particular application and is then exposed again to the steam-activation process that removes the adsorbed pollutants and restores about 90% of the activity level, so that it can be safely used again. For example, at the municipal level (water treatment facilities) where large volumes of activated carbon are employed and the spent carbon in the majority, if not all, cases is considered non-hazardous, there is a great opportunity to reactivate the carbon and reuse it. The reactivation process burns up about 10% of the original product producing about 20% of the greenhouse gases compared to new carbon production. There is also the benefit of less landfill.

Regenerated carbon usually refers to a process where the spent carbon is washed with either water or a chemical agent to remove a portion of the contaminants adsorbed by the carbon. For regeneration, the GAC is treated in the adsorption vessel. Only about 5 - 50% of the original activity of the activated carbon is restored.