DIY Activated Charcoal: Step-By-Step Guide

In this DIY activated charcoal step-by-step guide, we’ll show you how to make activated charcoal in the easiest and most effective way possible. Let’s dive right in!

Activated charcoal comes with a ton of health and wellness benefits, from facial cleansing and detoxification. In survival applications, it’s used to treat digestive issues, poisoning, bites and stings, and skin abscesses. It’s also used for water filtration because its small pores remove volatile organic compounds from water without stripping beneficial minerals.

By itself, charcoal is quite cheap. Activated charcoal, on the other hand, is costly. So, why not make one yourself? Activated charcoal takes a bit of time to make, but the process itself is quite simple and easy to follow. Plus, it’s way more cost-effective than buying activated charcoal from the store.


How to Make DIY Activated Charcoal In 8 Steps

Green Gobbler 93% Pure Calcium Chloride Snow & Ice Melt Pellets | Effective at -40° | 35 lb Pail | Concrete Safe Ice Melt
2,404 Reviews
Green Gobbler 93% Pure Calcium Chloride Snow & Ice Melt Pellets | Effective at -40° | 35 lb Pail | Concrete Safe Ice Melt
  • MELTS SNOW & ICE 4X FASTER: Calcium Chloride works 4X faster than rock salt by generating exothermic heat that instantly melts even the thickest snow & ice with maximum safety and little effort.
  • FOR TEMPERATURES AS LOW AS - 40 DEGREES: Snow & ice melt pellets work in temperatures as low as - 40 degrees Fahrenheit, lowering the re-freezing temperature and preventing cracks & potholes in...
  • SAFER FOR PLANTS & PAVEMENT: Green Gobbler's Calcium Chloride Ice Melt is safer for plants & pavement and less likely to harm grasses, bushes, trees, or decorative landscapes than rock salt when...

Making your own activated charcoal takes a bit of time and effort, but the end result is always worth it. Here’s how to make activated charcoal in 8  easy-to-follow steps.


To Make Charcoal, You’ll Need:

  • Dense hardwood
  • Barrel or pot
  • Large open space to make a fire


To Make Activated Charcoal, You’ll Need:

  • Calcium chloride or lemon juice
  • Glass jar with a tight seal
  • Measuring cup
  • Tight-weave cloth
  • Gloves
  • Mortar and pestle


Step 1: Prepare the Charcoal

Masterbuilt MB20091621 Lump Charcoal 16 Pound, Black
1,651 Reviews
Masterbuilt MB20091621 Lump Charcoal 16 Pound, Black
  • 100% premium hardwood
  • Naturally sourced and fired in artisan style kilns
  • Ideal for Gravity Series grills and other charcoal cooking products

The first step in making activated charcoal is making the charcoal itself. If you already have pre-made charcoal, you can skip this step. If you don’t, making your own charcoal is quite easy.

First, gather several pieces of dense hardwood in a barrel or into a metal pot. If you don’t have hardwood, substitute it with dense fibrous plant materials like coconut shells. Don’t use softwood or treated wood.

Make a decent-sized bonfire around the barrel and let the wood pieces burn for three to five hours. You’ll know it’s ready when smoke or gas is no longer coming out of the barrel or pot.

Let the barrel cool overnight. Then, transfer the coal into a clean container and rinse it with cool water. This will remove the ash and any remaining debris it has.

Let the charcoal dry completely before going to the next step. This might take up to 24 hours.


Step 2: Grind the Charcoal Into Powder

ChefSofi Mortar and Pestle Set - 6 Inch - 2 Cup Capacity - Unpolished Heavy Granite for Enhanced Performance and Organic Appearance - Included: Anti-Scratch Protector
17,539 Reviews
ChefSofi Mortar and Pestle Set - 6 Inch - 2 Cup Capacity - Unpolished Heavy Granite for Enhanced Performance and Organic Appearance - Included: Anti-Scratch Protector
  • A kitchen must-have: Mortar and pestle set (mortero de cocina - morter and pessel - molcajete or guacamole bowl and pestel) has been used for THOUSANDS of years as THE way to crush, grind and...
  • Versatile tool: Take advantage of your brand new stone motar and pedestal set’s various applications in the kitchen and simplify your everyday life! Use your mortor to pulverize nuts, seeds,...
  • Effortless use: This ChefSofi stone mocajetes motor & pedestal set was designed with your convenience in mind. Made from unpolished granite, you will waste no time fumbling or stabilizing your...

Transfer the charcoal into a mortar and pestle and grind it up until it turns into fine powder. If you’re making a big batch, put the charcoal into a zip-lock bag and smash it up with a small hammer, a rolling pin, or a tenderizing mallet.


Step 3: Activate the Charcoal

Pure Calcium Chloride ⊘ Non-GMO ☮ Vegan ✡ OU Kosher Certified - 50g/2oz
247 Reviews
Pure Calcium Chloride ⊘ Non-GMO ☮ Vegan ✡ OU Kosher Certified - 50g/2oz
  • 100% Food Grade (beware cheap industrial grade products not meant for human consumption)
  • ✡ Highest Quality Assured by Strict Orthodox Union Certification Standards
  • Used to set Sodium Alginate in the Spherification process

Wear your gloves and transfer the powdered charcoal into a glass jar.

In a different glass, combine calcium chloride and water in a 1:3 or a 25% to 75% ratio respectively. This means that for every 100 grams of calcium chloride, dissolve it in 300 milliliters of water.

You can find calcium chloride in most hardware stores. If you don’t have one to hand, you can substitute the calcium chloride solution with lemon juice or bleach.


Step 4: Mix the Calcium Chloride Solution With the Powdered Charcoal

Transfer the powdered charcoal into a glass bowl. Then, pour the calcium chloride solution into the powder in small increments until it forms a paste-like consistency.


Step 5: Let the Mixture Rest

Cover the bowl and let it rest for at least 24 hours. Place it in an area where no one will disturb it.


Step 6: Rinse the Paste With Clean Water

Once the 24 hours are up, transfer the paste into a white cotton sheet and drain the mixture with clean water.

Then, rinse the charcoal thoroughly to remove the chemical residue. Drain as much of the moisture from the bowl as you can. The mixture should be moist, not saturated.


Step 7: Fire Up the Heat

Put the charcoal into a clean metal pot and cook it for another two to three hours. The fire must be hot enough to remove all the moisture from the powdered charcoal.

You can also put it in a flat pan and bake it at 250°F for about 30 to 40 minutes.


Step 8: Store the Activated Charcoal

Bormioli Rocco Glass Fido Jars - Hermetic Sealed Hinged Airtight Lid for Fermenting, Pantry, Kitchen Storage, Bulk Food Storage Containers, With Paksh Chalkboard Labels (2 Pack) (6 3/4 Ounce (4 Pk))
3,587 Reviews
Bormioli Rocco Glass Fido Jars - Hermetic Sealed Hinged Airtight Lid for Fermenting, Pantry, Kitchen Storage, Bulk Food Storage Containers, With Paksh Chalkboard Labels (2 Pack) (6 3/4 Ounce (4 Pk))
  • Beautiful on Display - Crafted of attractively smooth glass with no wording, this jar looks gorgeous on display. The Fido jar creates magnificent crafts, is perfect for DIY candles, and stores...
  • Kitchen Storage Solution - The jar is equipped with a wire-hinged airtight-seal lid, making it the perfect option for storing jellies, honey, spices, beans, vitamins, and cosmetics. Never worry...
  • Miscellaneous Storage - A convenient solution for those miscellaneous items that have no home. Store nuts, screws, bolts, and beauty storage, such as homemade creams and lotions,

When the activated charcoal is 100% dry, break it into small pieces and store it in an air-tight jar.

And that’s it! You’ve made your own DIY activated charcoal.

How to Use Your DIY Activated Charcoal


Activated charcoal is useful for removing bacteria, pollutants, bad smells, and allergens. It’s also used to adsorb impurities in water, making it a fantastic natural water filter.

Here are some ways to use your DIY activated charcoal.


Air Purification

Much like baking soda, activated charcoal is a brilliant air purifier. It removes and neutralizes bad odors, combats mold, and freshens the air.

To use activated charcoal as an air purifier, simply wrap some of the power into a cloth or linen sheet, then place it in your refrigerator, gym bags, pet areas, car, and other places that tend to lock in odors.


Water Purification

Activated charcoal is often a key component in commercially-made water filters. Thanks to its numerous tiny pores, it effectively removes harmful contaminants from water, including solvents, pesticides, and other chemicals.

To use activated charcoal as a water purifier, insert the activated charcoal into a sock and pour the water into it. Use about 100 grams of charcoal for every liter of water.


Activated Charcoal Face Mask

Activated charcoal draws out impurities, bacteria, and dirt from the pores of your face, leaving it clean, clear, and less prone to breakouts. It’s used for acne spot treatment when mixed with a bit of aloe vera gel.

Since activated charcoal is made from natural ingredients, it’s safe to use on nearly all skin types.

In a small bowl, combine a teaspoon of activated charcoal with a tablespoon of honey. Mix thoroughly until it becomes a thin paste. Then, apply the mixture to your face and neck with a cosmetic brush.

Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes and wash it off with a natural cleanser and clean water.


Insect Bites

In the same way that activated charcoal draws out oils, dirt, and bacteria from pores, it can also remove toxins left in insect bites. However, you’ll have to mix it with several ingredients.

In a small mixing bowl, combine one teaspoon of activated charcoal, one teaspoon of aloe vera gel, one tablespoon of coconut oil, and half a tablespoon of shea butter.

Allow it to rest for a few hours before use.



Activated charcoal is often used to cleanse the digestive tract. It assists with the removal of toxins in your body by absorbing it like metal to a magnet and expelling it out of the body through bowel movements.

To use activated charcoal in your cleanse, add about 500 milligrams of activated charcoal in 350 milliliters of water. Drink this 90 minutes before each meal for two days.


Flatulence Relief

Activated charcoal is clinically proven to alleviate gas and bloating. Simply mix one gram of activated charcoal in a glass of water and drink it 30 minutes before you eat and one hour after you eat.

DIY Activated Charcoal – Conclusion


Activated charcoal has multiple uses, from detoxification to water filtration. Although they’re readily available in stores, they’re just as easy to make in bulk. Simply follow the steps above to make your own activated charcoal from scratch. Good luck!