5 Applications of Activated Carbon In Modern Society
Activated carbon, also known as activated charcoal, is everywhere around us. It has this magical purifying power that has been used in so many ways. The activated carbon has all these tiny little holes that give the activated carbon the ability to trap contaminated particles. Activated carbon is being used in our everyday lives all the time.
Let’s explore some of these applications!
#1 - Water Treatment
As you savor a refreshing glass of water, have you ever pondered why that water is safe to drink? It’s safe because it is filtered using activated carbon! Filtering water with activated carbon is a very simple process.
First, the activated carbon is in powdered form (similar to coffee grounds), which is then packed into some kind of container. This is what you call the filter.
Second, the water passes through this “filter”, which is packed with the powdered activated carbon. Typically, there is a nylon or polyester mesh fabric that acts as a barrier for the activated carbon. This mesh barrier keeps the powder from escaping, as well as letting the water pass through.
Third, as the water passes through the filter, it traps and removes the impurities in the water. These impurities basically get stuck inside that massive network of tiny little holes inside the activated carbon. These impurities in the water can be things such as dirt, pesticides, bacteria - amongst many other contaminants that make water unsafe to drink.
So the next time you are drinking your glass of water, you can remember the power of activated carbon that made that possible!
#2 - Hospitals
Both my dad and brother are trauma surgeons, so the way activated carbon is used in Emergency Departments (“ED’s”) is particularly relevant to me.
When a patient comes into the ED and has some kind of toxin in his or her system due to food poisoning or an overdose, the staff will typically use activated carbon to treat this process. The activated carbon will be given to the patient either orally or through a tube in the stomach, and will be able to remove these toxins from the patient.
#3 - The Food and Beverage Industry
As much as we all love a nice glass of water, it's also nice to have a glass of wine or a beer from time to time. Just like water filtration, activated carbon is highly used in many of the foods and beverages that we consume. Activated carbon can be used for even changing the color of our foods sometimes!
For instance, sugar naturally has a brown color due to the presence of molasses. Many sugar mills will pass the sugar through a large bed of powdered activated carbon, which ultimately turns the sugar white!
Another example in the beverage industry is in the production of wine (side note: I am from Napa Valley so this is especially relevant to me). After the grape juice goes through the fermentation process, eventually becoming wine, there can still be some lingering bitter tastes to the wine from the leftover phenolic compounds (or unwanted substances). When this happens, activated carbon will be added to the wine to remove these “off tastes”.
While activated carbon is thought of just to make our beverages safe, it is also used to make us truly enjoy the flavors of these amazing wines that are produced around the world.
#4 - Cleaning the Environment!
We all want a healthy planet, but there are times when there can be chemical spills in our soil that we use for our farmland. Obviously, this would drastically affect the farmer’s harvest, but that’s where activated carbon can be extremely helpful! The activated carbon is mixed into the soil, and that’s where the activated carbon will trap all these pollutants in its intricate network of tiny little pores.
So when we think of ways to fix environmental messes, look no further than the power of activated carbon!
#5 - Last but not least - Tootles Underwear!
So was fart filtering underwear the first item you thought of when it came to the “5 Applications of Activated Carbon”? I didn’t think so, but part of the reason is that fart filtering underwear is a recent invention. Tootles underwear was started by myself, Collin White, and my father, Dr. Robert White. We started Tootles because it was a common complaint amongst patients that were suffering from smelly gas after surgery or taking medication.
As we looked into solving this problem, we understood that activated carbon is the most purifying element in the world! We just had to find a way to incorporate it into fabric and eventually into comfortable clothing. Tootles underwear has an activated carbon filter that truly does act as a purifier to hydrogen sulfide, the particles that make our farts stink!
In conclusion, activated carbon is used all around us to purify this world. The more we are aware of the power of activated carbon, the more we can find ways to use it to our advantage. One way to start is by trying our tootles underwear for a better smelling world!
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