Was Activated Charcoal A Good Trend To Bite Into?

In the summertime, some shops and ice cream vendors start to sell black ice cream made out of activated charcoal. The ice cream is usually made out of charcoal flavoured with lemon oil or coconut cream. The majority of the time no dyes are ever used in the ice cream. The ice cream looks good in photos, especially on Instagram. But that doesn’t mean eating the ice cream is good for you.

Charcoal was always a product found in health food stores like in soaps for odour problems. Charcoal can block the effectiveness of medications.

Bone black is the deepest black used since prehistoric times. It is made from charring animal bones in an airtight container. Rembrandt often used bone black paint on the black clothing worn by his sister. Bone black is sometimes used synonymously with ivory black which is similarly made by charring ivory pieces. Bone black is used to remove coloured impurities from liquids.

Activated charcoal is different than charcoal. Charcoal is a lightweight black carbon residue that is produced by heating wood by removing water and other volatile elements from plants and animals. Activates charcoal is made in a tank without oxygen at extremely high temperatures of 600-900 degrees Celsius. Charcoal can be used in cooking food while activated charcoal has different uses.

In the 2010s, some foods made the social media responses interesting. There was rainbow food with the multicoloured dye of the six colours of the rainbow in ordinary foods like poutine, bagels and pizzas. These were dyed with mostly artificial food colouring. On the luxury end, some people would add edible gold foil because it’s aesthetically pleasing. It looks rich but tastes like nothing. 

Charcoal is a natural colourant. It overpowers foods that are easy to dye like ice cream and lemonade. Activated charcoal has no strong distinct flavour and smell. It is usually flavoured with lemon or coconut, nonetheless, the taste is smoky when natural. The texture is grainy and chalky because charcoal is ash.

Image of waffles made with activated charcoal topped with fresh fruits and cream. Image from Pexels.

The effect of eating charcoal, especially a lot of it is a black tongue and sometimes black teeth. It’s not permanent but that’s how potent charcoal always was as a dye. The other effects are predictable when you think about it. Charcoal blocks certain medications’ effectiveness by absorbing nutrients in your body. It was used as one of the first antidotes used in the 1800s to help poison victims. It absorbs the toxins out of conscious people. Also, #notadoctor. There are a lot of medical reasons why charcoal was ever used as medicine like promoting good health for kidneys.

There were a massive amount of charcoal health products that popped up in the last ten years like body oils and pills. But the use of toothpaste to make your teeth whiter was the most common. It would make your mouth temporarily dark grey with foamy bubbles while the user scrubs their teeth vigorously. It’s a mild change to the colour of your teeth but the dentist later warned about grinding away the top enamel of your teeth because charcoal is a coarse grain.

Types of products that still have activated charcoal body cleansing:

  • Toothpaste/Toothbrushes
  • Facial Masks/Cleaners
  • Shampoos
  • Sponges/Facial Wipes
  • Deodorizers
  • Soaps
  • Salt Scrubs

Social media made charcoal to be seen as a wonder health powder and trendy colour. This deep black was used in foods because it stands out as an unusual colour for something to be consumed creating an interest in the product in the photo or video about its creation. Charcoal black did not make the food look more savoury but just interesting. It was aesthetically pleasing. There are still foods with trendy colours but not as versatile and old as charcoal black.

Banner Credit: Charcoal photo of a spa by © Atthaphol Sileung on (ID 174300293)

Healthline – What Is Activated Charcoal? Benefits and Uses

Medical News Today – What Are The Benefits Of Activated Charcoal?

Video – SciShow – How Does Activated Charcoal Work?

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