The hubby recently brought home some activated charcoal soap, and I’ll admit I was skeptical at first. This gal loves her body wash and foaming hand soap. But now I’m hooked. I have become a total convert to the simple bar of soap (makes sense why it’s been around so long)!
Activated charcoal is an odorless, black powder that has impressive absorptive properties. When used in soap, it is detoxifying, exfoliating, clarifying, and just plain ol’ feels good—all without drying out the skin (I use it head to toe, face included).
Don’t worry—it’s not the same kind of charcoal that you would find in a chimney sweep or on burnt pieces of food. It’s 100% food grade and perfectly safe for use in bath and body products like these charcoal soaps. Plus, melt and pour soap is embarrassingly easy to make (which is why I love it), so here is an easy, detoxifying activated charcoal soap recipe.
Benefits of Activated Charcoal Soap
As a kid, my dad pulled out activated charcoal all the time for everything from bee stings to upset stomachs. But now beauty companies are turning to activated charcoal more and more as a key ingredient in masks, cleansers, and even toothpaste!
Charcoal is most effective for people with acne-prone skin, as it gently exfoliates and draws out dirt, oil, and makeup that can clog pores. Adding tea tree oil adds natural anti-fungal and antiseptic properties [source].
Here, we take a closer look at the myriad benefits activated charcoal can provide when used as a beauty product:
Why depend on chemicals to leave your skin looking its finest when you can use something found in nature? Activated charcoal not only works, but it also won’t cause adverse reactions—or lead to pesky breakouts due to chemical reactions.
Activated charcoal has some pretty impressive antibacterial properties. One study even found that it has the ability to destroy E.coli [source].
It unclogs pores.
Even with the chemical-laden, store-bought stuff, it’s hard to unclog the pores on your face (and your face contains a whopping 20,000+ of them).
But activated charcoal does a pretty impressive job. It visibly reduces pore size, thanks to its ability to clean out the dirt, grease, and grime inside each one.
The texture of activated charcoal makes it a great, all-natural exfoliator. It helps slough off dead skin cells to reveal brighter, smoother, glow-ier, and more youthful-looking skin underneath!
How to Make Activated Charcoal Soap
I’m not yet ready to learn how to make my own soap with lye—but hey, if you want to, check out our post on cold process soap here. So I’ve become a big fan of melt-and-pour soap base.
Shea butter, like Greek yogurt, helps diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, treats acne and blemishes, cuts down on skin inflammation, and more [source]. You can also add additional moisturizing oils (like argan or coconut) or even honey if you have really dry skin.
But feel free to use whichever soap base and oils you prefer! If you’re wondering how to use melt-and-pour-soap or what kind of base to use when, check out our Complete Guide to Using Melt and Pour Soap.
- 1/2 pound shea butter soap base
- 5 activated charcoal capsules (if you can’t find at a pharmacy, you can buy it online or use 1 teaspoon of loose powder)
- 15–20 drops tea tree essential oil
1. Cut the soap base into small chunks and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30-second intervals until completely melted. (You can also use a double boiler to melt the soap if you prefer.)
2. Remove a small amount of soap into a cup and let cool slightly. Open the charcoal capsules and mix charcoal into slightly cooled soap until blended and no lumps remain. Add back into the rest of the melted soap base, and stir well to fully disperse charcoal.
3. Add the tea tree oil. If you don’t like the smell of tea tree, you can add peppermint essential oil to hide the scent.
4. Pour into a mold (silicone baking molds and muffin tins work well) and let cool completely before removing.
Some helpful tips:
Adding charcoal to a small portion of soap should help it mix better. If you’re having problems with clumping, use a wire whisk to break them up.
Only when you’ve gotten rid of all clumps should you add it to the larger portion of soap base.
Feel free to lightly coat your muffin tin with nonstick spray if you’re worried about your soaps sticking. Otherwise, just put the muffin tin in the freezer for 5–10 minutes, and they should pop right out.
These soaps should last about 6 months.
Activated Charcoal Soap FAQ
Can I use another type of soap base?
Sure! Use whatever you have on hand.
Can I use charcoal meant for teeth whitening?
I recommend using pure activated charcoal without any additional ingredients so that you don’t end up irritating your skin.
What ratio of soap to activated charcoal should I be using?
I used approximately 4 grams of activated charcoal (or 1 teaspoon) for every ½ pound of soap base. But you can always tweak that ratio slightly without hurting the recipe.
If I want to add moisturizing carrier oils to my soap, what ratio of soap to carrier oils should I be using?
A good rule of thumb is roughly 1–2 teaspoons of carrier oil per pound of soap base. The exact ratio depends on the type and brand of soap base you use as well as your skin’s particular needs. Just be aware that adding too much oil may affect the firmness and lather of the final bar. It’s best to test it out until you find a ratio you like.
Can I make this into a liquid soap?
Yes! We even show you how to right here.
What quantity does this make?
If using a muffin tin like I did, this makes about 6 bars of soap.
What are some good options for natural soap bases without weird additives?
I have always used Our Earth’s Secrets soap base. While they’re not perfect, they disclose their ingredients on the label and try to stay away from anything too harsh, so I feel confident using it on my skin.
Will charcoal stain?
No, the soap itself may create a gray-colored lather or leave a bit of residue in the tub, but it won’t stain. If you get any loose charcoal on your clothes while making the soap, rinse them immediately, and spritz with a bit of laundry spray. It should come right out in the wash.
Some other DIY posts you might be interested in
- How to make liquid activated charcoal soap
- 3 ways to add activated charcoal to your beauty routine
- Skin-soothing activated charcoal bath bombs
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DIY Detox Tea Tree + Charcoal Soap
- Microwave-safe bowl or double boiler
- Soap mold
- Cut the soap base into small chunks and place in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in 30-second intervals until completely melted.
- Remove a small amount of soap into a cup and let cool slightly. Open the charcoal capsules, and mix charcoal into slightly cooled soap until blended and no lumps remain. Add back into the rest of the melted soap base and stir well to fully disperse charcoal.
- Add the tea tree oil. If you don't like the smell of tea tree, you can add peppermint essential oil to hide the scent.
- Pour into mold (I used a silicon mold I had lying around, but a muffin tin works great) and let cool completely before removing.
Not in the mood to DIY it? Here are some of our favorite charcoal beauty products:
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Haley, a board-certified dermatologist with extensive experience in medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.516