How to Recycle Activated Charcoal

Updated April 17, 2017

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Cool the charcoal and then reuse.


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.

Things You'll Need

  • Mesh sieve
  • Pot
  • Hot water
  • Baking dish
  • Electric oven
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About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Pamela Henman has been writing marketing- and advertising-related articles since 2006. Previously, she covered arts and entertainment news for "AUC Magazine," "The Signal" and "The Urbanite." She received a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Georgia State University.