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Charcoal is everywhere right now.
If you’ve ever noticed the high price tag and wondered if you can make it at home, the answer is “yes.”
While there is a little work to be done to enjoy your own homemade bamboo charcoal, the end result is worth it.
There are so many ways to use it!
How to Make Bamboo Charcoal at Home
Before you can activate charcoal and use it in a variety of recipes, you need to first make the charcoal itself.
Good news is it’s easy and something you can do in your own backyard – great for avid DIYers!
In addition to bamboo to burn, you also need a fire pit with a cover. Traditionally, charcoal can be made in pits in the ground, kilns, or even old tubs.
Start by breaking up your bamboo stalks to fit them into your burning area.
Once the wood has turned into coals, you’ll need to remove them from the pit and pile them onto the ground.
Cover them with some sort of top, such as one from an old grill, and pour sand around the bottom to make the lid airtight.
This allows the coals to cook away their moisture.
It also ensures all volatile gases are removed and that your charcoal is going to be high quality.
After about an hour, you’ll find your coals have all but burned out.
There will be a small pile of black coals with a thin layer of dust scattered over the top. Allow the coals to cool completely so you don’t burn yourself before breaking them into smaller pieces.
It’s easy to use a hammer or mallet to break the black coals into smaller pieces and then rinse them in running water.
Some people stop here, as this charcoal is perfect for water filters or for feeding to a flock of chickens.
However, if you want a powder, then use an old blender to carefully grind up the bits of charcoal into a fine dust.
How to Make Activated Bamboo Charcoal
Once you’ve made your own charcoal, then it is time to activate it so that you can enjoy all of the benefits it offers.
While it’s more time consuming to make and activate your own charcoal, you can end up saving a lot of money.
The first step is to carefully mix calcium chloride with water in a ratio of 1:3.
This can be dangerous and needs to be completed by an adult, as this produces an exothermic reaction and the solution will get very hot. Make enough of this mixture to wet all of the charcoal.
If you can’t get your hands on calcium chloride or simply don’t feel comfortable using it, then you can use lemon juice or bleach instead.
Use 1.3 cups of lemon juice or bleach in place of the calcium chloride for the same results.
Next, carefully stir together your water mixture and your charcoal.
Only use a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl so as to avoid any dangerous reactions with other materials in the bowl.
Slowly begin adding the water mixture to the charcoal, stirring constantly, until you have a spreadable paste.
At this point, make sure to discard any unused water solution.
Cover the bowl and let the charcoal dry out for 24 hours without being touched.
When the 24 hours are up, carefully pour out the remaining liquid.
Some people like to rinse the charcoal with fresh water and filter it through a coffee filter to ensure that the charcoal is very high quality.
Now, the charcoal needs to be heated. It can either be baked in an oven at 250 degrees for half an hour until the moisture has evaporated or heated over the stove.
The stove needs to be kept hot enough to boil water to activate the charcoal. It can take around three hours to dry up the charcoal when it is heated this way on the stove.
Now that you know how to both make and activate your own charcoal, let’s look at some sweet ways to use it!
How to Make a Bamboo Charcoal Water Filter
A water filter is a great use for activated charcoal, and one of the most popular options for people who make their own at home.
The great thing about using activated charcoal in a water filter is that it easily removes any impurities in the water, letting only clean water pass through.
Using charcoal sticks makes this easy, as they can simply be boiled, cooled and dried, then placed into a bottle or pitcher to remove impurities.
However, making a filter with crushed or powdered charcoal is almost just as easy.
You need to begin by sanitizing a glass pitcher – one with a spout at the bottom.
Once the pitcher is clean, simply place a coffee filter on the bottom, ensuring that it covers the bottom spout so it can catch any charcoal.
Begin by soaking the activated charcoal for around 25 minutes to ensure that it is fully saturated, then pour it into the pitcher, leaving about ¼ of the top free.
Fill the pitcher with water, making sure that it is never more than half full.
By allowing the water to filter out of the bottom spout, you can rest easy knowing that it will be filtered through the charcoal and free from impurities.
How to Make Bamboo Charcoal Toothpaste
Activated charcoal toothpaste may look intimidating, but it does a great job whitening and cleaning teeth naturally.
It’s so effective because it binds to stains on the tooth and removes them, along with plaque and grime.
You only need a few ingredients to make this toothpaste, which makes it perfect for beginners.
Simply mix together:
- ½ tsp activated charcoal
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 1 Tbs baking soda
For a better mouthfeel, you can add 2 Tbs sesame oil. Additionally, some people like to add around 10 drops of their favorite essential oil. I personally like peppermint in my homemade toothpaste!
After melting the coconut oil and combining all of the ingredients, pour the toothpaste into a small lidded container and store it in a cool and dry place.
It’s best to dedicate a toothbrush to using this toothpaste as it will get stained black.
Be sure to rinse your sink thoroughly for the same reason!
How to Make Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifier Bags
Activated charcoal can also be used to purify the air, making them great to hang in stinky areas of your home.
Especially in places where you’re dealing with moldy odors.
They’re perfect in a shoe closet and can be hung to passively filter the air or used with a fan for more active filtration.
These sachets are incredibly easy to make.
Begin by dropping a few drops of essential oils on a coffee filter, if desired.
Next, add a few tablespoons of charcoal to the filter and fold it up to keep the charcoal from leaking out.
Using a pour-over filter is a great option, as they are strong and come in the right shape.
Place the packet of charcoal at the center of a small fabric square and tie a ribbon or piece of string around the top to make it prettier and easier to hang.
If you want a more active approach to odor control, then simply use a box that you have lined with parts of an air filter.
Attach a box fan to the side using epoxy, ensuring that it is facing to blow into and through the box.
Fill the box with activated charcoal, put on the lid, and turn the fan on.
This forces air through the fan and the box, helping to purify it!
If you want to buy instead of DIY, here are some of my favorite brands:
How to Make Bamboo Charcoal Soap
Using this soap ensures that your skin comes in contact with potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other great minerals, helping balance your skin and making it feel soft and clean.
Charcoal soap is relatively easy to make, and you can make the process easier by opting for melt and pour soap.
All you do is melt one pound of the soap, stir in crushed bamboo charcoal and some essential oils, and pour it into molds to harden.
If you want to make your own soap from scratch, then you must use palm oil, olive oil, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, castor oil, powder, and lye.
The lye can be dangerous to work with, making this option trickier for new soap makers, which is why using melt-and-pour soap is preferred.
As you can see, with a little time and effort, you can easily have your own homemade bamboo charcoal!
And your options are wide open as to what you want to do with it – air purifiers, toothpaste, face mask, soap, and more!
As always, let me know if you have any questions!