Activated charcoal is a widely used substance for water filtration.
These are used for filtering drinking water and for aquariums. The filtration property traps impurities in the water and further holds them, allowing clean and pure water to pass through.
These days, commercial water-filtering companies take advantage by filling their filters with activated carbon. Interestingly, you can also make your water filter at your home with activated charcoal.
But before that, you need to have a detailed insight into activated charcoal and its absolute uses.
What Is Activated Charcoal?
The first things you need to clear-up are that the charcoal for filtering is not the same as that used for charcoal bricks you use for barbecue.
Activated charcoal is a fine black powder made from bone char, peat, coconut, petroleum, coke, coal, olive pits, or sawdust.
When processed at very high temperatures, charcoal changes the internal structure, reducing its pores and increasing its surface area.
Most people still do not understand that both the charcoal can be made from the same base materials.
Charcoal brick has not been activated at high temperatures, unlike activated charcoal. It comes with additional substances that are toxic to humans.
Mechanism of Activated Charcoal
Carbon-rich materials like wood are burnt to obtain charcoal.
Once the charcoal is obtained, it passes through various chemical processes to activate itself.
We can segment the overall treatment process into:
- Certain acids
- Carbon dioxide
- Chemical and more
Activation of impurities produces black porous granules. It creates holes and crevices on the charcoal particles. Slowly the general area increases.
The unusual voluminous and porous composition of activated charcoal makes it the most fitting competitor for adsorption.
The activated charcoal water filter process is booming due to its excellent adsorbent nature. It can trap many toxins and chemical modules. The porous structure has a negative electrical charge which pulls positively charged toxins and gases.
Molecules are then trapped inside intricate meshwork of crevices preventing toxins into the bloodstream. Additionally, activated charcoal is not absorbed by the human body. It is excreted from the body along with adsorbed toxins on its surface.
Applications & Benefits
Apart from the Activated Charcoal water filter process, this compound is frequently used as an antidote to an overdose of several over-the-counter drugs.
The timing of activated charcoal in a poisoning case can make a significant difference in life and death.
If administered within 1-2 hours upon exposure to a poisonous chemical or substance, it can have a tremendous impact.
It also promotes kidney functioning as it can adsorb impurities and excreting them in feces. It is useful in reducing unpleasant urine odor.
Other activated charcoal applications include teeth whitening, reducing gas and bloating, and skin treatment.
Why Is It Used for Water Filtration?
Here, we would provide you with the answer to the question ‘why is charcoal used for water filtration.’ Here we would list some benefits of doing so.
It Does Not Eliminate The ‘Good Stuff’
Water is not just created of oxygen and hydrogen; several other minerals are added to it.
Alongside, nasty chemicals or impurities may even contain to make up the water composition.
However, most water filters can efficiently eliminate such impurities, whether chemically or mechanically; they often even remove the crucial ions and minerals needed for your body’s health.
Activated charcoal filters help attract harmful organic material while allowing the remaining crucial minerals to stay in drinking water.
However, it does not eliminate all the microorganisms and pathogens; thus, you need to utilize charcoal in concurrence with another filter.
Makes Water Healthier
Not just charcoal filters can eliminate several nasty substances from water; they add essential water elements to make it healthier.
Activated charcoal can add essential minerals like magnesium, iron, and calcium back into the water and increase its quality.
Ameliorates the Flavor
Several people do not like tap water’s taste as they complain it tastes like metallic elements with an off-putting smell. The taste is generally due to additives like chlorine added to the tap water to kill pathogens and bacteria, if any, in the reservoirs.
Though it is a crucial procedure to protect public health, many people omit the concept of drinking tap water.
It does not just put them at the risk of witnessing dehydration; it may also propel them to purchase plastic bottled water, which is extremely harmful to the environment.
Usage of charcoal filters absorbs such nasty tasting elements and even effectively removes the odor, making the water more palatable.
It Is Cost-Effective
Various water filtration procedures are expensive. However, as necessary, individuals invest in expensive filtration techniques to receive clean and healthy water at home.
In contrast, charcoal filters are inexpensive compared to several filters and are also highly effective.
Simple to Maintain
While filters are required to be replaced once charcoal has been utilized, replacement parts are available at a reasonable cost, and also, they are very easy to source and install. Charcoal filters must be replaced within six months approx.
However, when to get the charcoal filter replaced would even depend on the water usage and water quality in the area.
Those who are unsure should review their water clarity and observe whether the water taste has changed and if the flow rate has lowered. In case you notice such changes, ensure to change your filter.
Ingredients for Activated Charcoal
- Charcoal on hardwoods
- Zinc chloride, calcium chloride, and lemon juice
Tools That Go into The Making of Activated Charcoal
- Durable pot with a loose-fitting lid to make charcoal if you do not purchase your own.
- Hammer for crushing the charcoal initially. And a plastic bag containing the charcoal lumps.
- Mortar & pestle, food processor, or blender to lower charcoal conversion into dust.
- Fine mesh screen/strainer for separating minute particles from larger ones.
- Pans to capture and enable charcoal dust to soak within the chemical actifier.
- Distilled water to rinse the actifier
- Coffee filters
- Patience and time
Step-By-Step Guide on Making Activated Charcoal Water Filter
Step 1: Source of Charcoal
Do not purchase regular charcoal briquettes for making activated charcoal.
Those are commercially produced and often contain numerous chemicals included in the manufacturing procedure. Some charcoal brands are referred to as lump charcoal that provides 100% natural & chemical-free charcoal.
Step 2: Pulverizing the Charcoal
Your goal is to lower the charcoal chunks to a fine powder. You can begin by breaking the lumps into smaller pieces. You can do so by placing the charcoal chunks in plastic bags and then gently crush them with a hammer.
Once you have lowered the charcoal size, use pestle and mortar to continue with the procedure of charcoal pulverization. In case you can in a hurry, you can use a blend or food processor.
You can easily clean up charcoal dust from your blender or food processor if you utilize adequate water. However, conducting the pulverization outside is recommended.
As charcoal turns into powdered carbon form, it can easily drift in the air and coat several things around. It may create an invasive mess if the procedure is conducted in the kitchen.
Step 3: Charcoal Screening
Irrespective of the procedure you utilize to pulverize the charcoal, you may still have few bigger pieces in your finer ones.
A fine mesh screen or a strainer over pan is the simplest way to avail of a nicely pulverized charcoal & separate it from bigger particles.
Step 4: Activate Charcoal
You activate the charcoal using chemicals. Calcium chloride is added to the water (note that zinc chloride can also be utilized for this procedure; even natural lemon juice sources can be used).
The citric acid present in lemon juice similarly activates the charcoal as zinc chloride or calcium chloride.
To begin the preparation, dissolve nearly 250 grams of zinc chloride or calcium chloride in 1000 ml water. Wear gloves are crucial when you are handling chemical solutions.
In case you are using lemon juice, then half cup of lemon juice should be sufficient. Mix the charcoal solution till you get a paste-like slurry & cover it.
Allow the substance to be soaked in charcoal for about one day in the covered pan. The solution must be slurry with liquid above its surface.
Step 5: Rinse the Actifier
The most straightforward setup to rinse the charcoal is using a coffee filter in a mesh strainer suspended over a container. This procedure will take some time. Note that charcoal should be rinsed three times utilizing distilled water.
Distilled water is nothing but pure H20. Avoid using well water as they contain components like iron, calcium, and lime, which would later be captured by charcoal to lower its efficiency.
Step 6: Final Drying Up
You can enable your activated charcoal to dry or air dry either in a relatively low temperature or oven. Ensure to check this from time to time to make sure it gets dry thoroughly.
Step 7: Store Your Activated Charcoal
The best manner to store the activated charcoal is in a tight-fitting lid canning jar. Doing so would prevent their exposure to air or other substances present in the air as they can degrade the charcoal as it absorbs whatever gets exposed to it.
The next thing you can do is encapsulate activated charcoal in the gel caps and then store them in a jar.
Using activated charcoal for the water filtration process gives you clean drinking water.
You can make activated charcoal by heating the charcoal without oxygen at a temperature of more than 1000F.
The high heat helps the wood release smoke, gases, and cellulose, leaving behind an almost pure carbon.
You need to pass the charcoal through another series of treatments like argon and nitrogen, followed by another heating round with oxygen and steam to make it a porous structure.
You can also make an activated charcoal water filter at home by following the steps mentioned above.