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. Charcoal soaps are also known to be effective in fighting against acne and blemishes, making them a great addition to any skincare routine. The activated charcoal in the soap works to draw out excess oil and impurities from the skin, leaving it feeling refreshed and renewed.
What Is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is a form of carbon that has been treated with oxygen to make it highly porous and increase its surface area, allowing it to absorb more substances. Activated charcoal is made by heating organic materials like wood, coconut shells, or sawdust to high temperatures, which removes all the oxygen and leaves behind carbon. This carbon is then treated with oxygen again, creating the porous structure that makes activated charcoal so effective at absorbing toxins and impurities. Activated charcoal is commonly used as a natural remedy for upset stomachs and to relieve bloating and gas. It is also found in air filters to remove pollutants and in water filters to remove impurities and contaminant. Activated charcoal is great for oily skin and to achieve that happy glow we all crave!
Why We Love Activate Charcoal Soap
Charcoal soap is a popular skincare product, for good reason. As the name suggests, charcoal soap contains activated charcoal, which gives it its distinctive appearance and makes it so effective. The benefits of charcoal soap are far too many to mention – including its ability to deeply cleanse and detoxify the skin. Many people with acne or dry skin swear by activated charcoal soap. Activated charcoal soap is also believed to help unclog pores, exfoliate dead skin cells, and improve overall skin texture and tone.
Charcoal soap is usually black in color due to the activated charcoal, which is added to the soap during the manufacturing process. This ingredient gives the activated charcoal soap a unique appearance and is what makes it so effective at removing impurities from the skin.
Contrary to popular belief, charcoal soap does not actually lighten skin. Rather, it works to brighten the complexion by removing impurities and promoting the growth of new, healthy skin cells. For those with sensitive skin, charcoal soap can be a gentler alternative to harsher exfoliating products, as it can help to unclog pores without causing irritation. Overall, charcoal soap is a great way to achieve a clearer, brighter complexion without the use of harsh chemicals or ingredients.
If you’re interested in making your own activated charcoal soap at home, it’s surprisingly easy to do! All you need is some activated charcoal powder, which can be purchased online or at health food stores, and a few other ingredients like olive oil, coconut oil, and lye. With its deep cleansing properties and unique appearance, activated charcoal soap is a must-have!
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!
Activated 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.
There are a ton of varieties for bases: plain glycerin, olive oil, goat milk, honey, and oatmeal. Here, I used a shea butter base for an added major moisture dose.
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 activated 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 FAQs
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.
What are the benefits of using charcoal soap?
Activated charcoal soap has numerous benefits for the skin. It is known for its ability to absorb excess oil and remove toxins, making it an excellent choice for those with oily skin. Charcoal soap can also help to remove dead skin cells, leaving the skin feeling soft and smooth. Additionally, charcoal soap is a natural facial cleanser, making it an ideal choice for those with sensitive skin.
Can charcoal soap lighten skin?
While there is no scientific evidence to suggest that charcoal soap can lighten skin, it is known for its ability to absorb excess oil and remove impurities, which can help to improve the overall appearance of the skin. Charcoal soap is a natural and gentle way to cleanse the skin, making it an excellent choice for those who want to achieve a brighter, more radiant complexion.
Is activated charcoal soap safe for all skin types?
Activated charcoal soap is generally safe for all skin types, but it’s important to do a patch test first. If you have sensitive skin, it’s recommended to use charcoal soap in moderation and avoid using it too frequently, as it can be drying. If you experience any irritation or discomfort, discontinue use.
Can I make activated charcoal soap at home?
Yes, you can make activated charcoal soap at home using simple ingredients such as activated charcoal, soap base, and essential oils. There are many recipes available online, and making your own charcoal soap can be a fun and cost-effective way to enjoy its benefits. However, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully and ensure that all ingredients are thoroughly mixed to avoid any potential skin irritation.
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
- 1/2 pound shea butter soap base or any kind you choose
- 5 activated charcoal capsules if you can't find at a pharmacy, you can buy online or use 1 teaspoon of powder
- 15–20 drops tea tree essential oil
- 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.531
Oven Fresh Cake says
Pleasure to go through such wonderful work!!
Thank you for posting such helpful information. In these times we have to take care of our health. I found a product that really helped me and i hope it will help other people. https://bit.ly/35uBu1f
Do you break open the activated charcoal tablets or do they melt into the soap?
Megan Sromek says
Well, I didn’t read the recipe close enough. I used goats milk instead. I’m sure it will turn out just fine. But, I used 1lb of suspension soap and 2lbs of stephson (sp) soap.
I also put glitter on the top. :)
I’m super excited to try this out!!
That recipe did not work and I always make my own soap so
can one use charcoal powder meant for teeth whitening? i’m not sure what other ingredients that powder will have and if they will be okay for the skin
Beth Batty says
Can you tell me what sort amount of soap I should be using to mix with the capsules please? 30grams to every 5 casuals for instance??
The instructions mention you can add moisturizing oils (like argan or coconut) to this recipe. If I decide to use additional oils, what amount of oil do you suggest for this recipe?
Is there a a way to make this a liquid face wash? I love the charcoal and tea tree, and I want to use it with my clarisonic. thanks!
That’s a great idea! I bet if you used a liquid castile like Dr. Bronners and heated it enough for the charcoal to dissolve you’d have your liquid face wash! I’m going try it and see how it turns out. I already have all the ingredients on hand so there’s nothing to lose. To be continued…. :)
Jo Powell says
Just wondering what quantity this makes? Trying to work out costs per bar to run a tutorial at work.
I have bulk activated charcoal & am wondering how much I should use for this recipe.
Susie her ingredient list says “5 activated charcoal capsules.”
Uh yep it does. Pretty sure with “bulk” that she mentioned, measurement or weight was the question.
wondering the same thing-5 tablets would equal about how much charcoal?
Stephanie Glaza says
Hey guys! I’ve done a little research and found that 5 capsules should equal around 2tsp of activated charcoal powder.
Veronica Lee says
Sunflower Fleming says
What are your favorite melt and pour soap bases ? I want to start making soap but am having trouble finding ones that have no propelyene glycol or other non natural ingredients and still sud well . Would love some ideas as you seem to know some good ones !
Stephanie Gerber says
Yes! So much easier!!
Planning on making this soon… should I line the muffin tins with anything or will the soap pop out easily? Thanks!
Stephanie Gerber says
You can spray it with cooking spray if you want. But if you have trouble popping them out, stick the pan in the freezer for an hour or so and that should help!
Shanna Mccormack says
Also make sure you do not use the pan to cook after you use it to make soap.
My soap is still white with the black specs of the charcoal. How did yours turn so black?
I just wondered as i know activated charcoal can be messy… does it leave a black residue on the skin or in the bath? I would love to try this but worried it could be a difficult product to use in terms of mess
Stephanie Gerber says
Yes, you’re right that the powder can totally get everywhere!! But it’s a lot less messy in the soap version – I’ve never had a problem with the residue. Thanks for asking!
Used in the correct proportions, charcoal soap can produce a grayish lather but it doesn’t stain or leave a mess. And it feels wonderful on the skin.
What should the consistency be for the finished product? I’m worried mine came out funny — it didn’t come out of the mould in one piece and it is hard to wash off!
Melt and Pour Soap still was made using Lye, all soap needs to be made with it, otherwise it would not be soap in the first place! Its a wonderful option though for those who don’t want to work directly with sodium hydroxide. I make soap over at Peppercorn Soap Company :)
Exactly what I was going to say. ALL soap is made with lye so this is not a non-lye soap. (There is no such thing.) The base you are using is made with lye; however, by sing melt and pour, you do not have to handle it.