The Secret Natural Ingredients of Activated Charcoal Tooth Powder Revealed

By Georgette Kilgore | Updated on September 13, 2021

You may have heard the buzz that activated charcoal tooth powder is great for whitening teeth…

Many people wonder why this ancient remedy is making a comeback, but what you may not know is that there are secret natural ingredients that are making all the difference.

Check it out…

An 8 Billion Trees graphic titled, 'Activated Charcoal Facts,' listing skin care, poison prevention, and teeth whitening, along with illustrations for each.

Sustainable Beauty Products: Antique Remedies Get 21st Century Update!

Believe it or not, charcoal tooth powder, as a means of whitening teeth, has been around for centuries, and its amazing natural properties will make you do a double take! In fact, because activated charcoal is an organic substance, makes it the perfect eco-friendly teeth whitener.*

Instead of relying on harsh chemicals, products made from sustainable materials like bamboo or coconut, won’t hurt the planet. And, they’re the secret natural ingredients used to make charcoal toothpowder.

Both bamboo and coconut (fruits) are easily grown and harvested with minimal environmental impact, making these secret ingredients for activated charcoal powder a great alternative to synthetically fabricated materials (like plastics) and bleaching chemicals.

Secret Ingredient #1: Coconut Charcoal

Coconut is a sustainable, renewable, natural and biodegradable resource.25 It is an ideal choice for sustainability, since the husks of the coconut fruits would have otherwise gone to waste.

Brushing your teeth with the fibrous husk of a coconut is a common oral hygiene practice among people of rural areas of South India. This sparked a scientific study in which they found that this plant material was proven to have antimicrobial properties. Coconuts have a significant inhibitory action against common oral pathogens, and therefore can contribute to oral health to a great extent.28

Additionally, it is USP (U. S. Pharmacopoeia) food-grade, meaning that it adheres to stringent quality requirements because it is designed to be ingested, as well as used in blood filtering devices such as kidney dialysis units.26

Activated coconut charcoal is generally used for detoxification, alleviation of bloating and gas, and lessening body odor from within.26 This means that there is no harm if you swallow any while brushing your teeth. In fact, it can be good for you!26

Secret Ingredient #2: Bamboo Charcoal

Bamboo is one of the most sustainable materials to use because it grows at an extremely fast rate, requires less water to grow, and does not need pesticides or fertilizers.24 Today, bamboo charcoal is often used in food to give it an earthy, smoky taste and the black coloring gives the food an exotic, fashionable appearance.29

Traditionally, bamboo charcoal was used by the ancient Chinese and can be classified into two categories: raw bamboo charcoal or bamboo briquette charcoal:13

  • Raw bamboo charcoal is made from the actual plant structures from the tip of the branches to the root system.
  • Bamboo briquette charcoal is gathered up from the main processing, such as sawdust and is generally compressed into charcoal sticks.

Charcoal Tooth Powder Review

8 Billion Trees’ Activated Charcoal Tooth Powder

Dirty Mouth Tooth Powder

8 Billion Trees’ Activated Charcoal Tooth Powder

Brand                            8 Billion Trees
Cost (cost per ounce)   $9.95 ($9.39)
Rating                           N/A

The Good: This Activated Charcoal Tooth Powder is completely biodegradable and made from organic coconut shells that remove toxins the natural way. The container will last you for months with regular use, and is packaged using recycled materials, eliminating any negative impacts on the planet.

Your purchase actually reduces carbon emissions, because for every tooth powder sold, 8 Billion Trees plants 5 trees and conserves another 50. Plus, you will be supporting wildlife rehabilitation in their Amazon animal sanctuaries.

The Bad: The mint flavor of this powder is lacking in strength, leaving a somewhat bland, but not bad, tasting charcoal. Mix with a bit of spearmint toothpaste if you want that minty feeling!

Dirty Mouth Tooth Powder

Brand                            Primal Mouth
Cost (cost per ounce)   $12.00 ($17.14)
Rating                           4.6/5

The Good: A common complaint regarding charcoal tooth powders is the taste – it’s bland and definitely not for everyone. Primal Life has solved this problem with Dirty Mouth by producing 9 different flavors;30 perhaps that’s why it’s the highest rated teeth whitening charcoal powder on Amazon.

The Bad: The flavor options for this choice of tooth powder are nice, but come at a cost. The amount you get for the cost of the product is a lot more than most charcoal tooth powder products.

Activated Charcoal [MH1] Teeth Whitening Powder

Burt’s Bees Activated Coconut Charcoal Teeth Whitening

Activated Charcoal [MH1] Teeth Whitening Powder

Brand                            Sunatoria
Cost (cost per ounce)   $9.99 ($5.00)
Rating                           4.4/5

The Good: Sunatoria’s Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder boasts a low abrasivity score of 55,20 which is roughly on par with Arm & Hammer Toothpaste and lower than regular Colgate toothpaste.21 It’s made from all-natural ingredients, and Sunatoria (a UK company) claims that their product can remove tea, wine, smoking, and coffee stains.

The Bad: Charcoal can be messy to use, which some products try to mitigate through smart packaging, but the reviews on this powder say that the packaging Suntatoria uses makes it even messier to use.

Burt’s Bees Activated Coconut Charcoal Teeth Whitening

Brand                            Burt’s Bees
Cost (cost per ounce)   $12.00 ($17.14)
Rating                           4.5/5

The Good: One thing that sets Burt’s Bees’ Coconut Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder apart is that it’s a well-established and trusted brand.22 They make quality products with natural ingredients, and customers love them.

The Bad: Be aware that (per the packing label) it can stain crowns, veneers, and fillings, so this product may not be for everyone.

What is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is not the same substance as that found in charcoal bricks for the grill.

Making activated charcoal involves heating carbon-rich materials, such as wood, peat, coconut shells, or sawdust. The organic matter is oxidized and activated using very high temperatures, and comes out as a fine-grained, porous black powder that is slightly abrasive.

Because activated charcoal is oxidized and produced at higher temperatures than charcoal, it is more porous and adsorbent than normal briquette charcoal. In fact, its adsorbent nature makes it approved in hospitals for the emergency treatment of overdoses or poisonings (it neutralizes poisons).23

Activated charcoal has important medical applications and is listed on the WHO Model List of essential medicines as an antidote for poisoning.12

Charcoal that is not activated is partially burned organic matter and great for cooking because of its ability to heat efficiently when burned. It is not for internal use.12

Is All Charcoal Powder Organic?

Charcoal powder can be both organic and non-organic. It can also be specifically formulated for oral application to use as a teeth whitener.

In general, charcoal powder is a superset of the category and a more generic term. Take care to purchase charcoal powder that is organic and activated, and designed for your personal care. Always use a trusted brand and follow instructions.

Of the materials used to create the activated charcoal, bamboo and coconut fibers stand out as the most environmentally friendly and sustainable, and one of the best options for your teeth!

How Do I Use Activated Charcoal Tooth Powder?

Activated charcoal tooth powder is biodegradable and sustainable because it’s made from carbon-based materials, making it a natural option for dental hygiene. And, there are a number of options for using it.

Today you can get it not only in powder format but also in tablets and capsules. Plus, using activated charcoal for teeth whitening is easy. Use it like you would use toothpaste to brush your teeth.

  1. Wet your toothbrush – or a finger works, too!
  2. Either make a paste by adding water to activated charcoal and putting it on your toothbrush, or load up the activated charcoal directly onto the toothbrush
  3. Brush it on your teeth
  4. Rinse and spit

Finding Which Teeth Whitening Product Is Right for You

It seems obvious that having a whiter smile can boost self-confidence and make you feel better, and studies have proven it: teeth whitening can have a positive effect on your quality of life.1 That may be one reason why teeth whitening is a global industry on target to hit $6B by 2025,2 and why you have so much choice: it’s big business

In addition to over-the-counter whitening options, your dentist has professional whiteners to give you that high-wattage smile that you’re after. But, among the trays, strips, rinses, paint-ons, lights, lasers, gels, toothpastes, kits, and gizmos, how do you know what’s the right teeth whitener for you?

To say the least, it can be overwhelming.

Of course, you should always consult with a dental professional to ensure that you use the appropriate regimen for your needs. That being said, perhaps it’s time to go back to basics and take a closer look at a longstanding, natural teeth whitening solution: Activated charcoal tooth powder.

How Does Charcoal Tooth Powder Whiten Teeth and Maintain Dental Health?

Activated charcoal is a natural teeth-whitening solution that not only helps your pearly whites shine brighter, but also keeps your smile going longer. It may seem counterintuitive that using black toothpaste can whiten your teeth, but it is great for taking off surface stains on enamel, leaving you with a whiter, brighter smile.

The benefits of activated charcoal include:

  • Whitening teeth naturally
  • Adsorbing poisons
  • Helping the environment

Activated Bamboo Charcoal Tooth Powder Is an Environmentally Friendly Teeth Whitener

Activated bamboo charcoal is an eco-friendly alternative to the more conventional teeth whitening options on the market. Its whitening ability is based on two properties:7

  • Activated charcoal is mildly abrasive, which is the heart of its cleaning power
  • It’s adsorbent, meaning that it chemically binds to staining particles and impurities in your mouth to wash them away (No, that wasn’t a typo. Adsorption is the name of the chemical process)31

Activated charcoal is a natural alternative to chemical whiteners. Not only will it help you lighten your chemical load on your body and be softer on your teeth, but it is an extremely environmentally friendly product.

Nature’s Way to Whiten Teeth Naturally Works Better than Chemicals

Many commercial chemical solutions for whitening teeth can cause tooth and gum sensitivity, and can even damage your roots.3

According to Adriana Manso, Faculty of Dentistry at the University of British Columbia,4 you can definitely overdo bleaching, and it is not recommended for everyone. She warns that the effects on your enamel are cumulative. If overdone, it can break down the structure of your teeth. Sometimes the damage is permanent.

Non-hydrogen peroxide bleaching agents are also available, but a study published in BDJ by the University of Manchester Dental School said that the agent studied for whitening, sodium chlorite,5 warranted caution. The products studied were either “ineffective or damaged teeth” and “products that contained other chemicals that claimed to whiten teeth often failed to declare the exact chemicals used.”

And then there are the plastics used in oral care. Yes, plastic.

Microplastics Are in Commercial Oral Care Products

Microplastics are new on the scene compared to ancient natural remedies like activated charcoal. These plastics are wreaking havoc in the oceans and waterways, so much so that microbeads in toothpaste were banned by a 2015 law in the United States.6

While microbeads are gone in the US, the law still allows for microplastics in oral care, according to Beat the Microbead. Beat the Microbead took a close look at 589 oral care products, finding,32 “349 contained either microplastics (13) or sceptical microplastics (268), and in some cases both (68).”

Is Using Charcoal Tooth Powder Dangerous?

Getting all the information you need about using activated charcoal for teeth whitening means sifting through a lot of anecdotal positives and some credible cautions. This is mainly the result of a lack of scientific study.

Among these cautions is that there is an unknown impact on dental work and enamel,8 so using it may not be the best option for people with older, cracked or grooved teeth.

The Journal of the American Dental Association recommends that “dental clinicians should advise their patients to be cautious when using charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices with unproven claims of efficacy and safety.”9

While it is true that there have not been a lot of clinical studies for activated charcoal teeth whitening to date, the ancient Romans first added it to toothpaste in 27BC and Colgate did the same thing in 2015.10 Today, it is showing up in additional commercial oral care products all the time. It’s even used in some toothbrushes for its teeth whitening properties.11

Keep in mind, though, charcoal tooth powder is still an abrasive substance. That is part of what makes it work so well, but too much abrasion on your teeth can cause enamel erosion. Using sparingly is the best way to mitigate this risk.

Still, compared to the harsh chemicals and plastics in traditional teeth whitening products, activated charcoal tooth powder is virtually harmless when used correctly.

How often should charcoal powder be used?

It’s important to protect your teeth by being careful not to wear down the enamel that protects sensitive nerves. Since overuse of activated charcoal products can lead to tooth erosion, use them cautiously and with care.27

The average person can use charcoal powder to brush their teeth up to five times a week, but someone with sensitive teeth should be careful to only use charcoal powder once a day, around three times a week maximum. Adjust usage if your teeth are feeling more sensitive than normal after repeated use.

The same concept applies to any toothpaste you may use. If you wear down your enamel too much, you risk exposing the underlying layer of your teeth, which is softer and more sensitive than the overlying enamel. This is why the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends choosing toothpastes with a relative dentin abrasivity (RDA) level of 250 or less.27 Try to choose an activated charcoal toothpaste that meets that guideline if you want to use it every day.

Activated Charcoal Actually Adsorbs Poisons

According to California poison control,14 “Activated charcoal is the single-most widely used method of gastrointestinal (GI) decontamination for the treatment of the poisoned patient.” It doesn’t just adsorb impurities, it bonds to them before removing them from your body.

Other Activated Charcoal Benefits

Activated charcoal has been used throughout history for wide-ranging purposes from anti-aging to medicine. It is used for water filtration and as a decolorizing agent, too.

Have you ever wondered what those black specs are when you change your water filter in your fridge pitcher?15 It’s most likely activated charcoal!

Due to its ability to adsorb poisons, activated charcoal is frequently used in hospital settings as a remedy for overdoses. According to Poison Control,16 “Activated charcoal keeps swallowed drugs and poisons from being absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream. It’s a highly effective treatment for many poisons.”

Throughout the centuries, activated charcoal has been used to heal. According to The History of Activated Carbon,17 even Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used activated charcoal “for a number of medical purposes, including treating epilepsy, chlorosis and vertigo.”

Because activated charcoal can negatively impact medications and has possible side effects, and it is not effective for all kinds of poisons and circumstances, always first seek medical advice and care in cases of possible poisoning or other medical applications.

Is Activated Charcoal the New Food Fad?

You may have already seen activated charcoal being served as a dietary supplement. Today, you can find distinctively black frozen yogurt, bread and fancy coffees, all supplemented with activated charcoal. But is edible activated charcoal really safe?

While the benefits of drinking activated charcoal in your milkshake may be appealing, according to the University of Utah you should be aware that there could be some side effects, among them constipation as well as potentially impacting your medications, among others.18

Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder Can Help the Environment

Using charcoal powder to brush your teeth is a great way to enhance your personal dental care routine, while simultaneously taking care of the planet. Because bamboo and coconut are relatively less harmful crops than other fibers, using them to make charcoal has less environmental impact on the planet.

Understanding Sustainable Teeth Whitening Options vs Chemicals and Synthetics

Sustainability at UCLA says that “in simplest terms, sustainability is about our children and our grandchildren, and the world we will leave them.”19

The term ‘sustainability’ draws attention and commands power, especially in the age of climate crisis, but what does it really mean? How do you make responsible purchases for yourself, your children, and the planet?

In an environment where companies and organizations use green terms loosely in “greenwashing” efforts to increase revenue, how do you filter through the noise?

Making decisions is challenging today and there are tradeoffs in every choice you make. Make sure you get your information from reliable sources and that the information is science-based. If your choice is sustainable teeth whitening over chemicals and synthetics, the brands are not all equal – even when it comes to activated charcoal.

Thankfully there are some guidelines that can help you navigate the difficult and confusing marketplace of personal care.

Select Quality Eco-Conscious Brands

Beyond the tools and research, selecting an environmentally responsible company and product can be a challenge, and this holds true not just for activated charcoal powder. Some companies offset their carbon footprint, or use proceeds to rehabilitate wildlife.

If you look hard, you can find an option that does the utmost for the planet. While not specific to just this product, the following are just a few example phrases that can indicate the environmental ethics behind producers.

Look for:

  • Products that offer 100% Recycled/Post Consumer Materials
  • Anything Palm Oil Free (Palm oil is a contributor to deforestation)
  • Carbon Neutral Products that don’t contribute to the carbon footprint
  • Products that pay back ecological debt, which also helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions and heal ecosystems

What to Look for When Buying the Best Charcoal Tooth and Gum Powder

When buying personal care products, it’s often important to pay attention to quality, organic ingredients to ensure you are using the best product for your body. There are a number of source materials that can be used for charcoal powder, and how it is processed matters.

Coconut fibers or bamboo are a fantastic choice, you just need to check to make sure it was ethically sourced.

Also, talk to your health care provider—green dentistry is an emerging and growing field, especially if your regular dentist hasn’t been educated in natural solutions.

A Responsible Smile

In the world of teeth whitening, activated charcoal tooth powder is worth it, not only for its ability to remove surface stains and brighten your smile, but also because it is a socially responsible and an environmentally friendly way to ensure your smile looks its best. With this sustainable product, you can achieve a professionally white smile, with a guilt-free conscience.

*The ADA does not endorse the usage of these types of charcoal activated products as teeth whiteners.

Read More About Eco-Friendly Natural Products:


References

1Bersezio, C., Martín, J., et al. (2018, December 11). The effects of at-home whitening on patients’ oral health, psychology, and aesthetic perception. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6290526/

2Arizton Advisory & intelligence. (2019, November). Teeth Whitening Market – Global Outlook and Forecast 2020-2025. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from Arizton.com: https://www.arizton.com/market-reports/teeth-whitening-market-analysis-report

3Delta Dental. (2010, August). The risks of tooth whitening. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from deltadentalins.com: https://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/bleaching_risks.html

4The University of British Columbia. (2016, January 6). Teeth whitening can cause permanent damage: UBC prof. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from News.ubc.ca: https://news.ubc.ca/2016/01/06/teeth-whitening-can-cause-permanent-damage-ubc-prof/

5Springer Nature. (2019, April 05). BDJ study on dangers of teeth whitening products provokes significant media interest. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from Nature.com: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41407-019-0059-9

6U.S Food and Drug Administration. (2020, August 24). The Microbead-Free Waters Act: FAQs. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from Fda.gov: https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-laws-regulations/microbead-free-waters-act-faqs

7Healthline Media. (2019, June 18). Charcoal Toothpaste for Teeth Whitening: The Pros and Cons. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from Healthline.com: https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/charcoal-toothpaste

8McCarty, B., Letteri, N., & et al. (n.d.). Activated Charcoal as a Whitening Dentifrice. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from Epostersonline.com: https://www.epostersonline.com/agd2015/node/72

9Brooks DDS, J., Bashirelahi PhD, N., & et al. (2017, June 07). Charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from Jada.ada.org: https://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(17)30412-9/fulltext

10Colgate-Palmolive Company. (n.d.). The Evolution of Charcoal. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from Colgate.com: https://www.colgate.com/en-in/oral-health/teeth-whitening/the-evolution-of-charcoal

11Healthline Media. (n.d.). What are the downsides of charcoal toothbrushes? Retrieved May 26, 2021, from Healthline.com: https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/do-charcoal-toothbrushes-work#downsides

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13New Directions Aromatics Inc. (2018, December 17). DETOXIFY WITH ACTIVATED BAMBOO CHARCOAL. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from newdirectionsaromatics.com: https://www.newdirectionsaromatics.com/blog/products/all-about-activated-bamboo-charcoal.html

14Geller MD,MPH, R. (2006, March 20). Using Activated Charcoal in Medical Toxicology. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from Calpoison.org: https://calpoison.org/news/using-activated-charcoal-medical-toxicology

15Obaiza, O. (2013, August 26). Brita Filters Costing You a Fortune? Use These DIY Methods to Clean Your Water for Half the Price. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from Food-hacks.wonderhowto.com: https://food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/how-to/brita-filters-costing-you-fortune-use-these-diy-methods-clean-your-water-for-half-price-0148381/

16Poison Control – National Capital Poison Center. (n.d.). Activated Charcoal-An Effective Treatment for Poisonings. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from Poison.org: https://www.poison.org/articles/activated-charcoal

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21Williamson DDS,MS, M. (n.d.). Toothpaste Abrasiveness Ranked by RDA (Relative Dentin Abrasion) Value. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from Williamsonperio.com: https://www.williamsonperio.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Toothpaste-Abrasiveness-Ranked-by-RDA.pdf

22Amazon.com, Inc. (n.d.). Roll over image to zoom in Burt’s Bees Activated Coconut Charcoal Powder for Teeth Whitening, 20g. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Burts-Bees-Activated-Charcoal-Whitening/dp/B07MB3NKB7

23Huizen, J. (2020, January 10). Activated charcoal: 8 uses and what the science says. Medical News Today. Retrieved June 14, 2021, from medicalnewtoday.com: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322609#possible-uses.

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29Ferrier, R. (2017, June 28). It’s in smoothies, toothpaste and pizza – is charcoal the new black? The Guardian. Retrieved June 16, 2021, from theguardian.com: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/28/charcoal-black-food-beauty-fad-instagram-health-claims.

30Amazon.com, Inc. (n.d.). Dirty Mouth Tooth Powder Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening, Teeth Whitener with Essential Oils and Bentonite Clay, 1 Month Supply, 60 uses, Black Spearmint Flavor. Retrieved June 16, 2021, from Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M35HQHK

31Katal, R., Hasani, E., Farnam, M., and Ghayyem, M. (2012). Charcoal Ash as an Adsorbent for Ni(II) Adsorption and Its Application for Wastewater Treatment. Journal of Chemical & Engineering. 374-383. Retrieved June 16, 2021, from: DOI: 10.1021/je200953h

32International Campaign Against Plastic in Cosmetics. Beat the Microbead. (2021, May 18). Retrieved June 16, 2021, from: https://www.beatthemicrobead.org/.