Doesn’t Everyone Deserve a Little Coal in Their Stocking?
Receiving Coal for Christmas was always an indicator of being on Santa’s Naughty List, but times are changing. Coal or more particularly, Charcoal is actually used in many products and can provide some great health benefits!
So, what is Coal? Coal is defined as having more than 50% percent by weight of carbonaceous matter (basically consisting of 50% of carbon material). Coal is formed by plant remains, and peat deposits being compacted at extreme temperature and pressure. Coal itself is generally used a fossil fuel, but its not just a fossil fuel, it’s so much more. Coal can be turned into activated carbon using various different activation methods.
So, what is activated carbon or activated charcoal? It is generally wood, coal, coconut shells, or other natural substances that have been oxidized at high temperatures or treated with chemicals. It is considered activated because on a molecular level there are a lot of little holes and crevices that increase the surface area that allow things to bind and stick to it. The product from oxidation is then generally ground into a powder. This powdered substance has an astonishing amount of different uses. It is used in the medical field, cosmetics, industrially, agriculture, filtration and purification, analytical chemistry, and to help purify distilled alcoholic beverages.
The molecular structure of activated carbon is really what allows it to be so useful. Because of activated charcoal’s little holes and crevices on a molecular level, it is great for being used as a filter to purify water and remove possible contaminants. It also has a negative charge which causes it to attract positively charged molecules like toxins and gasses.
Activated charcoal is commonly used in emergency rooms across the world where it is orally administered to help absorb drugs and other poisons that shouldn’t be there. It is commonly used to treat poisoning and has shown a lot of benefits with improving kidney function by promoting the elimination of toxic waste products. It is even used by some people to help prevent getting a hangover. Although it is noted that activated carbon will only work if it is administered quickly, and only works for some toxins. The doctor generally administers it case by case and it’s not a magical treatment for all poisonings.
For the same reason that it is used in the hospitals, it is used in the home to purify water. There are many different types of products available on the market for this purpose including GAC (granular activated carbon) filters or block filters. These filters can be attached directly to your mainline that brings all the water into your house or just on one sink that you use for drinking water. The reason that activated carbon filters are used is to remove contaminants like chlorine, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and chloride. These substances could cause negative health effects and are not good to have in your water.
Activated carbon, is becoming a lot more common in cosmetic products for its detoxifying and exfoliating effects on the skin. It has found new fame in toothpaste as a tooth whitener. As long as you can get past the idea of black colored toothpaste, they are very effective at removing stains from the surface. But you should not use them every day as they could potentially cause damage to your teeth. Overall, it is safe to use on teeth but should be used with caution.
Charcoal in Food?
Some people like to add activated charcoal to foods. Because of its ability to remove toxins people started adding it to foods. It is primary used for the distinct color it creates a rich dark black, and it really doesn’t have a taste if it’s added correctly. Although, it is perfectly safe in small quantities, again it is not something that should be consumed all the time. It is still not completely known of the benefits of adding it to food, but it is safe if added correctly.
Activated carbon is even used in the production of whiskey. Activated carbon is used in the Lincoln country process originated by Jack Daniels. In this process they would burn wood to create activated charcoal and then it would be used to fill a vat with a wool blanket at the bottom. The unaged whiskey would then put on top where it is filtered by the activated carbon. This process is done to mellow out the whiskey and is done primarily by the Jack Daniels whiskey brand.
So, getting coal on Christmas doesn’t necessarily mean you are on the naughty list.
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