What are charcoal tablets used for?

Written by megan shoop
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What are charcoal tablets used for?
(Tablet image by vashistha pathak from Fotolia.com)

Charcoal tablets are small, circular disks of pressed charcoal. They come prepackaged in sizes that range from about the size of a dime to slightly larger than a quarter. The smaller tablets usually are used as dietary supplements, while the larger ones are smouldered for various religious ceremonies. Charcoal tablets can be purchased online, in health food stories or in New Age shops.

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Religious Uses: Incense

In ancient times, Celtic Druids and Asian mystics smouldered various herbs and resins in bonfires to release their scents. Today, many pagans use charcoal tablets instead of bonfires because of laws about open fires and for convenience.

Blessed Bee, a pagan family newsletter, suggests lining the bottom of a heat-resistant bowl with sand, lighting the edge of the charcoal tablet and placing it on the sand. When the tablet begins to glow red, powdered incense, herbs or resins can be added for smouldering.

Religious Uses: Types

According to the Incense Warhouse, most pagans use self-lighting or quick-light charcoal tablets. These tablets contain potassium nitrate (saltpetre) to help them light with one match and stay lit. They often spark when first lit.

Incense Warehouse also describes Tandon charcoal tablets, which are pure charcoal, with no potassium nitrate or other chemicals. They are used in the Japanese Koh (incense) ceremony and are good for people who have chemical allergies.

Medicinal Uses: Holistic

Dime-sized charcoal tablets have long been used to treat stomach ailments. These tablets contain no chemicals and deliver about 250 milligrams of charcoal in each tablet. NetDoctor, a website that commissions material from United Kingdom health professionals, says charcoal tablets can relieve flatulence, gassy bloating, heartburn and upset stomach by attracting excess gas in the stomach and intestines. The gas binds to the surface of the charcoal and the tablet is digested.

Medicinal Uses: Mainstream

According to NetDoctor, charcoal tablets can be used to treat drug overdoses and poisonings. The charcoal absorbs chemicals and toxins the same way it does excess gas. In this case, the tablets work best if they are taken 30 to 60 minutes after a poisoning--always under medical supervision. Because the dose of charcoal for poisonings is much larger than that of a supplement, it is best to let a certified medical practitioner administer the charcoal.

Warning

There are no known side effects to taking charcoal, however, NetDoctor advises that no on under 12 should take charcoal. According to CharcoalGuide, charcoal can absorb medications, so speak to a doctor before taking the supplement. Also, dairy products block charcoal tablets from absorbing gases and toxins, so avoid eating dairy products two hours before and after ingesting charcoal. CharcoalGuide suggests drinking a lot of water with the tablets to aid absorption and digestion. Store the tablets in a cool, dry place and throw them away when they expire.

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