What Activated Charcoal Do You Use?

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Ravenscourt Apothecary

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Here's a question for everyone who makes soap with activated charcoal: what kind do you use? I purchased a blister of 10 tablets from ebay - the kind I am familiar with for using for food/alcohol poisoning/etc. I was in for a surprise. The batch I was making was *supposed* to go all black, however, the charcoal only studded my soap with black specks, the rest remained green (as I used a large amount of cold pressed avocado oil in it). It looks pretty and is very much salable, however, it was NOT what I intended.
What activated charcoal do you use? Any specific brand or supplier? I would like to hear some opinions before I commit to buying any, so if you are happy with your activated charcoal soaps, please advise!
 

Obsidian

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I just bought the charcoal powder at the local soap supply so I don't know what brand it is but I can't get a good black with just it. It goes dark grey at best so now I use a bit of black oxide with the charcoal if I want a dark black.
 

Ravenscourt Apothecary

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Obsidian,
Yeah obviously there's the option of coloring the soap with the oxide to get the very rich deep shade of black, however, I've seen other people's soaps that are colored with JUST bamboo charcoal, and they look pitch black. I want to know their secret!
 

new12soap

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pull the capsules apart and put the charcoal into a very little bit of oil, stir stir stir, let it sit a bit, then add the oil to the soap. yes, you have to use a lot to get black, and your lather will be a bit greyish. I like to use charcoal for a black swirl, that way no yucky lather color. You can also combine charcoal and mica to get black.
 

Tienne

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I buy charcoal powder from Gracefruit. The colour doesn't come out that glossy kind of black, but it's black nonetheless and a little goes a long way. I like that charcoal has beneficial properties to it as well as adding colour, so I'm okay with the non-glossy look of it. I go easy on adding too much though, because too much will make your lather look dirty, so I only use it for accent colouring.

http://www.gracefruit.com/natural-colorants/charcoal-powder.html
 

karenbeth

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I get activated charcoal from a supplier here in Australia, and it comes in a plastic jar. It's pretty expensive but it makes black soap.
 

seven

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I'm toying with the idea of making my own bamboo charcoal. From what i've read, it ain't that hard.. But i dunno the reality. Those tutorials always make it seem so easy. It's a different story when you actually do it...
 

Geenxer

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I was searching for charcoal powder and it was just more than I wanted to pay. I researched it and found that the charcoal powder I was looking at was the same thing as the activated charcoal that is sold at walmart in the fish section for fish tanks. It comes in a small tub for about 4 dollars. Its in small chunks so I put a few tablespoons in an old coffee bean grinder and in a couple of seconds its powder! I then shake it through a small strainer to get any bits that didn't get powdered. It creates a very black color in my soaps and the lather is an off white, not gray but not bright white either.
 

TVivian

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I use the charcoal from Brambleberry. It makes the soap very black and I've found that when I use just a little it turns a beautiful grey-blue. I mix it with a little bit of oil before adding it to the soap.
 

boyago

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I was searching for charcoal powder and it was just more than I wanted to pay. I researched it and found that the charcoal powder I was looking at was the same thing as the activated charcoal that is sold at walmart in the fish section for fish tanks. It comes in a small tub for about 4 dollars. Its in small chunks so I put a few tablespoons in an old coffee bean grinder and in a couple of seconds its powder! I then shake it through a small strainer to get any bits that didn't get powdered. It creates a very black color in my soaps and the lather is an off white, not gray but not bright white either.
That's great. That was my plan.
 

Eve

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This may be a dumb question, but couldn't you just use the charcoal things for barbecues and smash that up?
 

boyago

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This may be a dumb question, but couldn't you just use the charcoal things for barbecues and smash that up?
BBQ charcoal will often have other things in it help it burn that you probably wouldn't want in your soap. The Activated carbon or Activated charcoal is typically manufactured for filtering purposes and most likely has higher standard.
 

soap_rat

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Maybe Eve means the "pure" stuff, the hardwood charcoal chips rather than the pressed briquettes. Kind of hard to get into a powder though. Before buying my charcoal powder I tried crushing aquarium charcoal in a mortar and pestle. Again, I then bought the powdered stuff! I do have a coffee grinder for spices but I was afraid the charcoal would taint future colors.
 

Geenxer

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Maybe Eve means the "pure" stuff, the hardwood charcoal chips rather than the pressed briquettes. Kind of hard to get into a powder though. Before buying my charcoal powder I tried crushing aquarium charcoal in a mortar and pestle. Again, I then bought the powdered stuff! I do have a coffee grinder for spices but I was afraid the charcoal would taint future colors.
I found that the coffee bean grinder works wonderfully. It can get dusty so I just grind it in pulses kinda like a blender. I've used the grinder for spices and other things and had no problems with other colorings or scents. It cleans up pretty easily with soap and water, the charcoal powder washes away easily.
 

Ancel

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We make our own for the farm, and that's what I use in my soaps. We use the pruned branches from our fruit trees and then activate it with EM (efficient micro-organisms). It's fantastic stuff, extremely black and glossy soap (and yes I get dark lather). I make a tooth soap with it and a face mask/tooth whitener too and it's got a good local following. My husband won't use anything else in the shower.:)) but at the same time :( )
We make the charcoal in 55 gallon drums. It's a larger version of the stove here: http://seachar.org/projects/estufa-finca-project
 

boyago

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We make our own for the farm, and that's what I use in my soaps. We use the pruned branches from our fruit trees and then activate it with EM (efficient micro-organisms). It's fantastic stuff, extremely black and glossy soap (and yes I get dark lather). I make a tooth soap with it and a face mask/tooth whitener too and it's got a good local following. My husband won't use anything else in the shower.:)) but at the same time :( )
We make the charcoal in 55 gallon drums. It's a larger version of the stove here: http://seachar.org/projects/estufa-finca-project
It looks like they are promoting stoves similar to what I am mare familar with that is often called a "rocket" stove that burns the gasses and particulates from the fuel source and then simply interning the spent ash back into the carbon cycle. Is that the case or are they producing a different type of char? Or is this a wood gas stove that they are just composting the char after wood gas is burned?
 
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cmzaha

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Activated charcoal is not the same as barbacue charcoal. It is made from carbon, ground and treated so it becomes activated. I purchase hardwood activated charcoal on Amazon by the lb and it gives a very black glossy black. Brambleberry's charcoal will also give a glossy black if enough is used. I use nothing other than activated charcoal for black and gray. I absolutely hate using powdered oxides. I put my charcoal in a small amount of the batch oil to mix it first. If it is still not black enough I will add it into the batter and by the time it reaches a shiny black any specks that might be there do not show
 

Eve

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Barbeque charcoal (the 'pure' stuff, yes, basically just burned up wood) is mostly carbon too, right, because the wood itself is mostly carbon and everything else burns up. But I understand how it can be less pure, it can have all kinds of trace elements in there.
The 'activating' part is just grinding the stuff up really fine, but I don't know if you could get the same results at home as they get in the factory.

Anyway, haven't soaped with charcoal yet, I'll look up more if I try it.
 

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