Cheap Way to Make Activated Carbon

Charcoal is used for much more than summer BBQs.

Activated carbon, also called active charcoal, is used to draw out toxins because it is very porous and absorbs toxins very effectively. It is used most commonly in medicine and filters. Activated carbon can be expensive, but there are some simple ways to save money by making your own activated carbon. You can use many different non-toxic materials to make activated carbon, like wood or peanut shells, but one of the best materials to use is a dried coconut shell, because it better absorbs colors and aromas. These materials can be made into activated carbon using a chemical solution of either 25 percent concentrated calcium chloride (CaCl2) or zinc chloride (ZnCl2).


Step 1

Place coconut shells in a sunny place for a week to dry it out. Clean the coconut shells so that all fibers, dirt and meat are removed.

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Step 2

Spread sand in the bottom of your barbecue to seal any openings. Place the coconut shells on the grate in the barbecue and burn at 600 to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit for four to six hours.


Step 3

Remove the coconut charcoals from the barbecue and place them in the chemical solution. Let them soak for 12 to 24 hours. Remove the coconut charcoals and rinse them thoroughly with distilled water.

Step 4

Placed rinsed coconut charcoals on the draining pan and let them drain for about an hour or until they are dry.



Step 5

Transfer the dry coconut charcoals to a cooking pan and put them in the oven for about 3 hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 6

Take the cooked coconut charcoals out of the oven and place them in the plastic trash bag. Use a hammer to crush them into small pieces. Place the crushed pieces into a blender and pulverize them until they are the desired consistency.

Step 7

Put your activated carbon into the sealable plastic bags to store it.


You can follow the same process explained in steps one through seven to make activated carbon using wood or peanut shells instead of coconut shells.

Things You'll Need

  • Coconut shells

  • Barbecue

  • Sand

  • Chemical solution (a 25 percent solution of either calcium chloride or zinc chloride)

  • Five-gallon bucket

  • Distilled water

  • Draining tray

  • Cooking pan

  • Plastic trash bag

  • Hammer

  • Blender

  • Plastic sealable bags

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