Activated Carbon - A Brief History

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Our ancestors have known the uses for charcoal and other carbons for a long time.

Our ancestors have known the uses for charcoal and other carbons for a long time. Specifically, that carbon could be used to control odors and purify water. Starting around 1500 B.C. and continuing into the 1800s, charcoal was used in hospital treatments in powder form to help reduce the smells produced from rotting flesh.


Impressively, ancient sea explorers figured out that scorching the insides of wooden barrels that were used to store drinking water would keep the water safe to drink during long voyages. coconut shell carbon During the westward expansion of the United States (think Lewis and Clark/Oregon Trail times) access to fresh water was limited during the long treks through harsh wilderness so American soldiers used plain lump charcoal to filter swamp water for drinking. It can also work as a medicine, as it helps to draw toxins out of the body, and it’s still widely used around the world for these cleansing properties.


While mankind has been using carbon, in one form or another, to purify contaminates and neutralize odors for thousands of years, the process of activating carbon has only gained traction in the past few hundred years.


It is said that back in 1831, in order to prove the effectiveness of activated carbon as a medicine, Professor Touery of the French Academy of Medicine drank 15 grams of the potent poison strychnine (ten times the lethal dose) in front of his medical peers. Tourey had been studying activated carbon so he knew that if he also swallowed a powdered activated carbon at the same time, he would walk away from the stunt.


While this type of demonstration doesn’t stand up to modern scientific procedures, Touery lived through the ordeal because he knew that the poison would be adsorbed by the activated carbon before it entered his bloodstream! coconut shell activated carbon price As science has continued to advance in the past century, we have gained an incredible capacity to improve upon past discoveries and ancient technologies in order to find even more uses for helpful natural phenomena, and advances in the manufacturing and uses for activated carbon is just one example.