How to Recycle Activated Charcoal

Written by pamela henman
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How to Recycle Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal can remove impurities from water. (Dougal Waters/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Activated charcoal, also called activated carbon, is commonly used to filter impurities from water used for human consumption as well as in aquariums and fish tanks. Chlorine, pesticides and industrial solvents are among the contaminants activated charcoal can remove from water. Activated charcoal can also be used to purify air and other gases and for the distillation of alcoholic beverages; it has also been implemented in medicine to treat poisoning. You can reuse activated charcoal by heat treating it at home with just a few instruments.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Mesh sieve
  • Pot
  • Hot water
  • Baking dish
  • Electric oven

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  1. 1

    Pour the activated charcoal into a fine mesh sieve and rinse it with hot tap water.

  2. 2

    Put the charcoal in a pot and boil in water for about 15 minutes. As impurities leave the charcoal, it will emit a foul odour; boil until all odour dissipates. You may need to re-rinse and boil the charcoal several times before the odour completely disappears.

  3. 3

    Put the charcoal in a baking dish to dry for several hours. The vapour from the charcoal is flammable, so be sure to keep the area well ventilated.

  4. 4

    Bake the charcoal in the dish at 148 degrees C and heat for about three hours. Because the charcoal vapour is flammable, use an electric oven.

  5. 5

    Cool the charcoal and then reuse.

Tips and warnings

  • Recycling activated charcoal in your home oven can be dangerous, as it is a flammable material; activated carbon derived from wood or peat can ignite at about 204 degrees C.

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