Activated charcoal: The unlikely all-natural teeth whitener

Sometimes I find myself smack dab in the middle of a natural remedy thinking, “I’ve really gone off the deep end.”

Sitting in a tub of apple cider vinegar… instinctively grabbing honey when I have any sort of skin issue (and then shamelessly licking my fingers after applying)… brushing black black BLACK activated charcoal on my teeth.

But then I remember why I’m doing it: because it works!

Quite fabulously, actually. And to boot, it protects me from the unnecessary chemicals that would otherwise be employed in this modern world of ours. So I keep on truckin’, even though sometimes I feel like a huge weirdo.

The weirdest of the weird would have to be the activated charcoal teeth brushing.

Needless to say, activated charcoal is an unlikely all-natural teeth whitener.

I mean, it’s BLACK! And you want your teeth to be white…

At first glance, this just doesn’t add up.

But activated charcoal is not run-of-the-mill charcoal from the BBQ out back.

It is made specifically for medicinal use. To make activated charcoal, manufacturers heat common charcoal in the presence of a gas that causes the charcoal to become very porous. These pores allow activated charcoal to trap impurities. It is used to treat poisonings, intestinal gas, nausea, and bile flow issues (cholestasis) during pregnancy. It also works wonders for the skin when applied topically: it keeps skin clear by acting as a magnet to draw dirt out of pores.

Just as activated charcoal helps lift trapped gunk from your pores with the Blackhead Busting Blackout Mask, it also helps lift stains from teeth. Very effectively, I might add. Activated charcoal readily absorbs tannins, which are the guiltiest party when it comes to teeth stains (tannins are found in coffee, tea, wine, etc.), leaving you with perfectly pearly whites.

Even better, activated charcoal doesn’t absorb the calcium salts found in tooth enamel, meaning it does not cause any damage or sensitivity.

There are a number of ways to use activated charcoal to whiten your teeth.

1) Add about 1/2 teaspoon of powdered activated charcoal (or one capsule) to 1 teaspoon of water or coconut oil, mix it up, dip your brush into the mix and brush it on your teeth in gentle circles for 2-4 minutes. Spit it out and rinse your mouth well.

2) Add about 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 teaspoon of powdered activated charcoal (or one capsule) to 2 teaspoons of water, mix it up, take it into your mouth, and hold it against the front of your mouth (so it’s between the front of your teeth and your closed lips) for 2-4 minutes. Spit it out and rinse your mouth well.

Some important points:

Do not get the charcoal on anything other than your toothbrush, your teeth, and your sink! It will stain. If your sink is even the tiniest bit dirty, it will stick to whatever is in your sink but will come off easily with a light scrub.

Do not apply the dry powder on your teeth. You may breathe it in.

Have you tried using activated charcoal as a teeth whitener?

Or do you want to try it? Report back with your results!

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Share Your Thoughts

  1. sara

    Is the taste bad?

    April 9, 2014 • 7:47 am •
  2. Nadia

    Good question – no, not at all!! Honestly, it doesn’t taste like much.

    April 9, 2014 • 10:20 am •
  3. ~Kate F.

    Wow! Cool! I’m going to try this. Thanks! 🙂

    April 14, 2014 • 2:50 pm •
  4. ~Kate F.

    I forgot to ask: How often should this be done to whiten teeth? Once a day, once a week?

    April 14, 2014 • 2:51 pm •
  5. D.E.

    Hmm, I think I may try this. It sounds a whole heck of a lot better than those whitestrips thingies.

    April 14, 2014 • 3:57 pm •
  6. JoAnn Anderson

    Has anyone tried this yet?

    June 7, 2014 • 7:06 pm •
  7. Jen

    I will try this Friday night…just in case I have black teeth I don’t want to do it during the work week lol. Ill let you guys know how it goes.

    June 10, 2014 • 8:29 pm •
  8. Totally works. I was a skeptical AND was really hoping that my teeth would not end up grey.Well,I’ve used it twice and the change is amazing.I just brushed with it,left it on for ten minutes or so and then rinsed and brushed with regular toothpaste. So excited because tooth whitening jell burns too much. It does make an incredible mess because the charcoal is slightly greasy so be ready for a little bit of cleanup. Worth it and completely natural and safe.

    June 25, 2014 • 2:58 am •
  9. Mandy

    Will it stain my teeth?

    August 3, 2014 • 2:53 pm •
  10. Ashley

    Would love to see before and after pictures if you tried this!

    August 20, 2014 • 1:28 pm •
  11. Ellen Cantarow

    It should NOT be used where dental work has created a stain-absorbing surface at the crown of the tooth. That is: if you have a crown, or are using the charcoal on any but the enamel surfaces of your teeth, do not use it there.

    August 28, 2014 • 8:26 pm •
  12. I’ve been wanting to try activated charcoal for months and I was finally able to purchase it. I used it in the shower, it’s a lot less messy that way! It works incredibly well. I noticed a big difference after using it the first time, and I’ve used it twice since then. Thanks, this is great!

    August 31, 2014 • 12:34 pm •
  13. Paul Thompson

    Activated charcoal is a new home remedy for those who want to whiten their teeth without going to a professional dentist. This ingredient is really something. I read a lot of positive and outstanding feedback from its users. It’s truly one of the most effective natural ways to eliminate yellow teeth.

    September 29, 2014 • 2:00 pm •
  14. Yvonne

    One of my front teeth is a veneer. Will it end up stained?

    October 9, 2014 • 11:13 pm •
  15. jeniffer rainn maugeri

    Could charcoal be added to your “brown tooth paste” as an ingredient?

    November 9, 2014 • 11:26 am •
  16. Nadia

    Hmmm I suppose so! It would add a little more whitening power. I’d just be sure to brush with just water at the end to get any charcoal out from along the gum line where it sometimes likes to settle.

    November 9, 2014 • 4:20 pm •
  17. Herbal Bill

    I’ve been doing this for a while. It works incredibly well. Brush daily with the charcoal for a week or two, then once or twice a week to maintain. Not a good idea to add activated charcoal as an ingredient to any other preparation/tooth[paste, though…it will just absorb whatever else is in the formula and be useless (or “full”) by the time you brush with it.

    November 25, 2014 • 6:00 pm •
  18. Jack

    I tried this and it went terribly. Not only did it make a huge mess and pretty much ruin a practically-new toothbrush head (if you’re going to try this, wait until you’re ready to throw out your toothbrush or toothbrush head), but I don’t think it made any more difference than my typical oil pulling. I took before and after pictures to make sure. It didn’t look like it did anything at all. Whereas, with oil pulling, I can usually see a very visible difference after just one session. An interesting idea, but it definitely did not work for me.

    December 2, 2014 • 4:54 pm •
  19. Paula

    Wow! This is great! I recently had a procedure to fill in my receding gum line. Will it dis-color the fillings? Thank you so much and looking forward to hearing from you.

    December 20, 2014 • 2:17 pm •
  20. Paula

    I LOVE this idea, but I’m not sure it worked for me. I used the coconut oil to charcoal mixture, but I don’t see any noticeable whitening. I am going to try the water to charcoal mixture as well. Maybe you have some tips for me?

    January 4, 2015 • 4:37 pm •
  21. Nadia

    I’d definitely try it a few times before you give up!

    January 5, 2015 • 3:47 pm •
  22. […] have no qualms about rubbing clay on my pits, brushing my teeth with charcoal, or eating clove upon clove of garlic to stave off a sinus […]

    January 16, 2015 • 9:35 pm •
  23. caleb

    works really well and you guys should try it

    January 18, 2015 • 12:58 pm •
  24. Brittany

    I have a permanent retainer on the inside of my bottom teeth. With the Charcoal stain the “glue” that is holding it in place?

    February 19, 2015 • 5:49 pm •
  25. Nadia

    Oh gosh… no clue.

    February 23, 2015 • 8:12 pm •
  26. Herbal Bill

    Brittany — I know that, for some people who have crowns, the charcoal can leave a faint black line where the crown meets the gum line. So, it’s possible. Probably depends on whether the “glue” is very porous. If so, a quick swish/gargle with hydrogen peroxide (spit it out, follow with a swish of water) after the charcoal and brushing should alleviate the problem. Good luck.

    February 23, 2015 • 8:53 pm •
  27. I have a crown and have used activated charcoal for years along with other natural approaches. It will not stain or discolor your teeth; it did not do that to my crown either. Just be sure to brush and rinse your teeth and tongue until you are spitting out clear water or toothpaste in the sink. It’s easy and it works OVER time; it’s not as dramatic as commercial bleaches etc., so don’t expect that you will have dazzling teeth after one time.

    March 28, 2015 • 8:54 am •
  28. Nadia

    Thanks for sharing!!

    March 31, 2015 • 10:03 am •
  29. Jamie

    So if it’s not supposed to affect tooth enamel, why do you suppose my teeth get very sensitive after using it? It’s a similar feeling as when you use whitening strips and such.

    That said, it does have great a whitening effect. I hold it in my mouth while I shower. However I can only do it once every few days due to the sensitivity, which is somewhat concerning. I hope it’s not affecting my enamel in a negative way – although it sure feels like it is.

    April 3, 2016 • 9:01 pm •
  30. Jade Brunet

    I have heard good things about whitening teeth with activated charcoal. It is good to know that charcoal stains so one should avoid applying it anywhere other than teeth. I have also heard that it is wise to wet the toothbrush before application to help it stick better.

    August 9, 2016 • 9:44 am •