Activated charcoal: The unlikely all-natural teeth whitener

DIYDIY Skincare & Beauty

Sometimes I find myself smack dab in the middle of a natural remedy and think, “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.

So how 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 which is no good (think: miners’ “black lung”).

Have you tried using activated charcoal to naturally whiten your teeth?

Or do you want to try it?

Please report back with your results!


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  1. Turned my four top and bottom front teeth light grey. First time I tried it. I hope the grey will go away soon. It looks really bad. I tried cleaning with baking soda but it did not work!

  2. I have done this several times and it totally works!! But I was wonderimg, could you add baking soda, or would that just be “too much” for your teeth? Also my teeth are kinda sensitive, if that’s a factor. I need to make your mouthwash again because it helps with that!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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