Whiten Teeth with Activated Charcoal without Making a Mess

by Sarah Oral HealthComments: 54

activated charcoal teeth whitening

The word is out.

Activated charcoal, also called activated carbon, is the best way to whiten teeth naturally without using conventional tooth whitening trays, gels, and strips that contain toxic chemicals that can damage tooth enamel over time and harm delicate gum tissue. Even professional tooth whitening at the dentist is not a good idea for those concerned with avoiding toxin exposure and preserving their long term oral health.

It may seem odd to use black powder to whiten teeth, but it really does work.

Activated charcoal is so effective because it aggressively absorbs tannins, the compounds found in coffee, tea, tobacco, herbal teas, blueberries, wine, spices, and other foods that stain teeth. It does not, however, lock onto minerals like calcium in our teeth which is why it won’t harm tooth enamel even if used every single day.

Even better, activated charcoal balances the pH of the mouth which discourages the growth of pathogens and the formation of cavities and helps preserve the health of the gum tissue.  In Korea, activated charcoal is even added to toothpaste!

How is Activated Charcoal Made?

Processing charcoal with oxygen and either calcium chloride or zinc chloride produces activated charcoal.

It was used medicinally by both Hippocrates and the ancient Egyptians, and it is still the poison remedy of choice in hospital emergency rooms.

I first became acquainted with the power of activated charcoal to remove toxins from the digestive tract many years ago when my German Shepherd ate some poisonous mushrooms in our front yard, and the vet gave her activated charcoal as the remedy to stop her hallucinations.

Some folks like to take capsules of activated charcoal when traveling or after eating out at establishments which serve food with questionable ingredients, but I don’t recommend it for this purpose unless there is actual food poisoning involved because activated charcoal removes nutrients from the digestive tract as well as toxins.

Activated Charcoal Makes a Mess

The one drawback with using activated charcoal to whiten teeth is that the black powder can really make a mess!

Just a little bit of activated charcoal spilled in the bathroom sink or on the floor requires a thorough cleanup lest the very fine black powder be tracked onto carpets or stain socks and slippers. Even if none is spilled, spitting it and rinsing after a few minutes of holding it in your mouth to whiten teeth makes a mess in the sink which requires cleaning afterwards.

And, you must make sure you aren’t wearing any good clothes that will be stained when using activated charcoal as even the most careful application will still get some on your shirt or blouse. In other words, don’t try to whiten your teeth quickly before heading out the door for dinner in your evening attire!

Not exactly the convenience of slap on and go tooth whitening strips!

So how to use activated charcoal regularly without the inconvenience of a mess afterward which can sometimes serve to discourage its use?

The trick is to use activated charcoal while you shower instead of at the bathroom sink

Here’s what to do:

  • Before getting into the shower, carefully open one capsule of activated charcoal and empty it into your mouth. Carefully wrap the empty capsule in a bit of tissue and put in the trash. Even better, reclose the empty capsule before wrapping in the tissue. Don’t just toss the empty capsule in the garbage as even a teeny weeny bit of the powder will stain the trash bin.
  • Keep a special toothbrush that you use only with activated charcoal in the shower.  Grab it as you step into the shower and lightly brush the powder around your teeth so that they are thoroughly covered.
  • Run the shower water through the bathtub faucet for a minute and thoroughly rinse the blackened toothbrush.  Set it aside.
  • Turn on the shower and bath normally.  The average shower lasts for 8 minutes, and this is an ideal amount of time to keep the activated charcoal in your mouth as you wash and condition your hair, etc. You can swish around the activated charcoal in your mouth if you want to during this time, but this is not necessary to produce good results.
  • When you are finished with your shower, spit out the activated charcoal directly into the tub drain before turning off the water.   Then, open your mouth and rinse directly with water pouring out from the shower head.   Rinse and spit out the water as many times as necessary to clear the powder completely from your mouth.  Use the shower head to quickly clear away any black powder residue that may still be present around the shower stall.
  • Next, use your regular toothbrush to brush your teeth as usual … either while still in the shower or at the bathroom sink after you get out of the shower and towel dry.

The result of doing this every day for about a week?  Naturally white, but not blindingly white (which looks unnatural), teeth that you can feel confident knowing that you haven’t damaged your oral health in pursuit of an unsustainable and toxic beauty routine.

Now, the only trick is to find a way to remember to put the activated charcoal into your mouth before stepping in the shower!

*Wondering what toothbrush I’m holding in the picture? Our family uses Bass toothbrushes and here’s why they are so much more effective than store toothbrushes for cleaning teeth, removing plaque, and preventing tartar.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Comments (54)

  • jean marie

    Here’s my trick: I put food-grade-charcoal in one of those plastic refillable “ketchup bottles”. Filling it makes a mess, but it’s “one mess and done for a month” deal. Then – i use it at the kitchen sink. The stainless steel basin is bigger, so it’s safer. Good luck!

    March 5th, 2016 8:50 pm Reply
  • T

    I have read before that rinsing your mouth with shower water might not be good because the head can harbor some nasties. I have even seen a recommendation to tie a plastic bag around the head and fill it with vinegar to sanitize it. How much of a concern do you think this is?

    December 11th, 2015 11:11 am Reply
    • Sarah

      I have a filter on my showerhead so haven’t ever been too concerned about that. Even without a filter on the shower, I don’t think it’s a big deal unless a person is immunocompromised in a serious way.

      December 11th, 2015 11:41 am Reply
  • Stephanie Smith

    I’ve heard of activated charcoal, and I’ve been a bit hesitant to use it because of the mess. I’ll try it in the shower next time. I didn’t know to keep it in my mouth for about 8 minutes though, so I’ll try doing that too. Thanks for the advice! I know it’s not official dental care, but it sounds like an affordable way to whiten teeth.

    June 16th, 2015 10:26 am Reply
  • Dianna

    I bought the AC capsules at CVS by the gas relief products…just started it….hoping it will work

    June 5th, 2015 8:24 pm Reply
  • Alex Jennings

    I’ve heard many people say that activated charcoal helps naturally whiten your teeth. One of the major things that have discouraged me from trying this is their messiness. I’m glad that you’ve listed some helpful tips on how to avoid this. I might try to whiten my teeth later this week.

    Alex Jennings |

    May 22nd, 2015 12:56 pm Reply
  • Kimpoay

    This is great!

    April 30th, 2015 3:33 am Reply
  • Kyle Frick

    You can also buy activated charcoal pellets at any aquarium or pet store. Just put the pellets in a coffee grinder for a few minutes and presto, activated charcoal powder.

    April 27th, 2015 4:25 pm Reply
    • Camilla

      Just chew them 😉 Less mess.

      June 29th, 2015 5:57 am Reply
  • Melissa

    Government Conspiracy To Promote Depopulation!!!
    Countless lives have fell victim to this silent deadly warfare!!!

    December 26th, 2014 5:33 pm Reply
  • Alex Lewin

    Hi Sarah, Great seeing you at the WAPF conference! And thank you for this post. I’ve been using the charcoal for a while now. I find that if I put the capsule in my mouth, it dissolves completely within a few minutes, so I don’t need to mess with cutting it open.

    Question: How often do you think it’s okay to brush with charcoal? Any thoughts? I assume it’s too abrasive to use every day in the long term, but I don’t really know…

    November 13th, 2014 8:32 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Great tip Alex! Once you get your teeth where you want them whiteness-wise, then once or twice a week is good for maintenance.

      November 14th, 2014 10:09 am Reply
  • Judit

    Isn’t charcoal a carcinogen? We are told to avoid burnt BBQ, for example. How is AC different? Or is it?

    September 12th, 2014 4:49 pm Reply
  • RJ

    Our mother got us to eat accidentally burned toast by convincing us the carbon would whiten our teeth.

    September 12th, 2014 12:06 pm Reply
  • Brittany Brown via Facebook

    When do you do your oil pulling versus the activated charcoal?

    August 23rd, 2014 1:07 am Reply
    • Ellen

      Typically, oil pulling is done in the morning before anything enters your mouth. The charcoal is done when one brushes their teeth or has 5-8 minutes to allow a slurry of the AC to sit on the teeth for whitening.

      April 21st, 2015 2:50 pm Reply
  • Theresa Dijkstra Leclerc via Facebook

    Why not use calcium carbonate?

    August 22nd, 2014 10:37 am Reply
  • Frances Young via Facebook

    I too would like to know if this is safe with amalgam fillings, please.

    August 22nd, 2014 8:34 am Reply
  • Sara Campilii via Facebook

    Does this work if you have white fillings or caps?

    August 22nd, 2014 7:46 am Reply
  • Sharon Mckibbon via Facebook

    I put my finger in the charcoal and smush it around my mouth and teeth then later brush…..it is amazing and its good to drink dissolved in water to remove toxins in your body

    August 22nd, 2014 7:22 am Reply
  • Becky Nicklas via Facebook

    I disagee..the average shower lasts longer then 8 minutes. 😉

    August 22nd, 2014 6:37 am Reply
  • Austin

    Great article,

    Does this product have other health benefits for teeth and gums? Or does it just whiten teeth?

    Thank You

    August 13th, 2014 5:21 pm Reply
  • Karen

    I always do oilpulling with coconut oil in the shower; what do you think of mixing the coconut oil and charcoal together beforehand to do both?

    August 10th, 2014 5:51 pm Reply
  • Adam

    I am definitely going to try this Charcoal method. I have tried numerous products and gels to whiten my teeth, but nothing worked. Thanks for sharing.

    August 8th, 2014 6:16 am Reply
  • Theresa Dijkstra Leclerc via Facebook

    Calcium carbonate works better!

    August 5th, 2014 6:55 pm Reply
  • Ruth Morgan via Facebook

    Thanks for sharing; ordered some from Amazon.

    August 5th, 2014 2:08 pm Reply
  • Kim King Stone via Facebook

    I also tried this for 10 days with no effect.

    August 4th, 2014 10:21 pm Reply
  • Pingback: Whiten Teeth Naturally With No Mess | All Natural Home and Beauty

  • Carol

    I have mercury fillings (yeah yeah I know . . . I didn’t know back then). Can you use AC with mercury fillings?

    August 4th, 2014 2:25 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      I would check with your holistic dentist on that to be sure, but the research I’ve reviewed indicates that AC does not absorb or pull out minerals from teeth or other substances like it does with tannins … so it seems that it would be safe.

      August 5th, 2014 7:49 am Reply
  • Sylvia Onusic

    What about those of us with caps and crowns… does it stain the porcelain?

    August 4th, 2014 11:59 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      AC doesn’t really stain anything … just makes a mess that needs cleaning up. Even when I’ve gotten it on a white blouse before accidentally, it easily rinses out with just water. It doesn’t stain a white porcelain sink either, for example, so I think it should be fine.

      August 5th, 2014 7:51 am Reply
  • christie

    What if you have a couple of crowns in your mouth? Will it stain them and can I still use to whiten my other teeth? Thanks

    August 4th, 2014 11:28 am Reply
  • Susan

    I have had excellent results whitening my teeth with a paste made of coconut oil and diatamateous earth.

    August 4th, 2014 10:58 am Reply
  • Gerri

    Would this work on porcelain veneers?

    August 4th, 2014 10:57 am Reply
  • Shane Close via Facebook

    I tried this for 10 days and saw no effect on my teeth. What gives?

    August 4th, 2014 10:35 am Reply
  • Sile McDermott via Facebook

    hahaha! I brush in the shower anyway because i can’t stand seeing my foamy mouth in the mirror… it makes me gaggy… it also saves time!

    August 4th, 2014 9:53 am Reply
  • Linda Dolan via Facebook

    Thanks for the info on the Bass toothbrush. I just ordered some.

    August 4th, 2014 9:50 am Reply
  • Tammy Lee Rodriguez via Facebook

    gave it a shot this morning… works pretty well. gonna try to get it into my “mouth” routine. :) i like that you leave it in while showering.

    August 4th, 2014 9:31 am Reply
  • Caroline

    I did not have good results using charcoal to whiten. I know it has worked for others but speaking from my experience I do not recommend. Used the charcoal whitening method for 2 days and ended up with painfully sensitive teeth. Even the slightest bit of air would set them off as would eating and drinking. Lasted for a few weeks and still has not gone away completely. I used activated charcoal as recommended, not the capsules as I have just the powder so I am sure it was 100%. I am a dental hygienist and have used other whitening methods in past with no sensitivity. I feel as if the charcoal is too ‘detoxifying’ and is drawing too hard causing a negative pressure within the dental tubules? If it works for you that’s great. I just thought others should be warned it may cause sensitivity. Not sure if it could possibly leach minerals as well?

    August 4th, 2014 9:26 am Reply
    • Kathleen Conner

      thanks for the warning. I might try it on one tooth with my finger first!

      August 4th, 2014 11:51 am Reply
    • Marie

      I had the same experience. It did not whiten my teeth, and now, 9 months later, my teeth are still sensitive.

      December 25th, 2015 2:55 am Reply
      • Eli

        How long did you brush with it for such that you still have sensitivity 9 months later?

        I stumbled upon this charcoal brushing when reading information on oral health, so as someone with sensitive teeth I am skeptical to try it out.

        January 5th, 2016 10:47 pm Reply
  • Karon Hollandsworth Northington via Facebook

    I can’t seem to get it all out oft mouth after brushing. I rinse and rinse and rinse and….it never works for me. Any suggestions? My teeth never seem to get whiter. Am I doing something wrong?

    August 4th, 2014 9:22 am Reply
  • Meredith Porter Keeney via Facebook

    I’m sorry but there is a vastly easier way. We just have a little jar that has toothpaste with powdered charcoal mixed into it. We just dip out a little bit and use it like any other toothpaste. No powder all over, minty toothpaste flavor, no mess. Easy peasy.

    August 4th, 2014 8:09 am Reply
  • Meredith

    I’m sorry but there is a vastly easier way. We just have a little jar that has toothpaste with powdered charcoal mixed into it. We just dip out a little bit and use it like any other toothpaste. No powder all over, minty toothpaste flavor, no mess. Easy peasy.

    August 4th, 2014 8:08 am Reply
  • Linda Scholz via Facebook

    Casey I have the capsules :)

    August 4th, 2014 7:58 am Reply
  • Andree

    I have activated charcoal tablets, would these work for teeth too?

    August 4th, 2014 4:51 am Reply
  • Alana Baird via Facebook

    Where do you buy some??? Please help xx

    August 4th, 2014 2:29 am Reply
  • Bee

    U can also add AC to an oil pulling regimen, which might help with the mess too, since the ac will be mixed into the oil

    August 4th, 2014 1:55 am Reply
  • Jennifer Lyons Whitmore via Facebook

    Great suggestion, The Healthy Home Economist! We are getting our activated charcoal by using My Magic Mud…my dentist has endorsed the product and by simply doing an oil pull in the morning with coconut oil and brushing once a day with My Magic Mud (no, I do not sell or profit from the promotion of the product at all), my hygienist was stunned by how clean my teeth were and how healthy my gums were—not her usual commentary on my teeth by any means.

    August 4th, 2014 12:05 am Reply
  • adri@dreambookdesign

    can you do this while breastfeeding?

    August 3rd, 2014 11:22 pm Reply
  • Caryl

    Where does one get activated charcoal? Is there any literature I can read further on this. I’m quite excited to try this.
    thank you

    August 3rd, 2014 10:15 pm Reply
  • Laura

    This is exactly how I do it! It only took me once of making a black mess at my sink to not make that mistake again haha!

    August 3rd, 2014 2:49 pm Reply

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