Activated Carbon

One of the trendiest products on the market, activated carbon is used in virtually every industry.

Description and Use

Not to be confused with the same charcoal you use to fire up the BBQ, activated charcoal is a man-made substance created by applying intense heat to organic materials such as bamboo and coconut husk, resulting in a porous ashy substance that is known for its detoxification properties.


Activated carbon in personal care productsNo longer exclusively known for its medicinal ability to aid in ER overdoses or food poisoning, or solely as a water filtration agent, the potent black powder is becoming a popular household remedy and beauty aid – for teeth whitening to unclogging and minimizing pores. Meanwhile, in the culinary world, activated charcoal is having a hot moment as well – appearing in everything from fresh pressed juices to waffles to ice cream, leaving a telltale signature inky hue all over the food market.

Charcoal Toothpaste being applied to toothbrush

Used as a powerful purification agent since ancient times, activated carbon today plays a vital role in numerous industries. It is the often the unknown champion in what makes our food and drinks and even the air we breathe, smell and taste great. For cosmetics and personal care, it makes products pure, clean and safe to use.

Activated carbon is produced by charring certain types of carbon-containing materials, such as wood, coal, biomass and nut shells and then “activating” it by exposing it to high temperature steam or certain chemicals. Much like a kernel of popcorn, initially small and dense but later large and porous, once activated, specialty carbons can possess very large surface areas for a given volume of material. In some cases, as little as a teaspoon of activated carbon can possess as much surface area as an entire football field. Further, the surface area of the activated carbon contains many pores of varying sizes. Certain pollutants are naturally captured by the pores in activated carbon, allowing this material to serve as an effective filter of airborne and waterborne pollutants.

Activated carbon is also called as activated charcoal which is a highly adsorbent powdered or granular carbon. It is made by carbonization and chemical activation, and used chiefly for purifying by adsorption. Activated carbons are manufactured from coconut shell, peat, hard and soft wood, lignite coal, bituminous coal, olive pits, and various carbonaceous materials. Activated carbons are widely used in various industries for air purification, groundwater remediation, spill cleanup, and for drinking water filtration.

Activated Carbon in a small pileSome raw carbons, when activated, have widely varying characteristics, and are therefore suitable for different applications. Granulated, powdered and pelletized activated carbons are used for such diverse purposes as filtering municipal and household water supplies, de-odorizing, de-colorizing edible oils, soft drinks and pharmaceuticals, reducing mercury emissions from power plants and supplying the filters on gas masks.

Activated carbon in pharmaceuticals

In Pharmaceuticals, purity is absolutely vital. Activated Carbon is a powerful purification agent, making it a logical choice for use throughout all stages of the pharmaceutical manufacturing process. Here are just a few of its important functions.

  • Removing Organic Impurities: Careful filtration through virgin activated carbon removes proteins and other bits of organic matter from pharmaceutical products.
  • Decolorization: It is absolutely critical for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and patients to be able to recognize specific pharmaceuticals at a glance, but the raw materials often have significant natural color variations. Activated carbon adsorbs the compounds that cause these variations, ensuring that the final products contain only intentionally introduced colorants.
  • Odor Removal: Raw materials often have a strong or unpleasant odor. Activated carbon removes the compounds responsible for unwanted odors, leaving behind a clean, fresh smell.

Activated Carbon for Food & Beverages


For Food & Beverages, many products require activated carbon to improve purity, appearance, or other sensory characteristics. Common applications for Oxbow Activated Carbon products include treating cane sugar, purifying edible oils, removing color from fruit juices, modifying flavor characteristics in alcoholic beverages, and improving food additive flavors. These activated carbons also play a key role in making certain food ingredients safe to eat.

Supplier partners

Oxbow Activated Carbon, LLC, is based in West Palm Beach, Florida, was founded more than 15 years ago in Europe and expanded operations to North America in 2014. Oxbow Activated Carbon continues to develop and improve product lines and production capabilities to better meet our Quadra’s customers’ increasing purification challenges worldwide. Quadra and our customers can rely on their industry knowledge, quality products, extensive global distribution network, and individualized customer service approach to help achieve our partners achieve their purification goals.

Today, Oxbow Activated Carbon is the premium catalytic carbon company in the market. Unlike other companies in the industry, Oxbow has the ability to tailor a solution rather than offer a product. Customers can improve efficiencies, lower costs of operation, and see better performance with Oxbow provided solutions. Oxbow sources different activated carbon products from a number of countries, delivering millions of pounds of material each year.

Together with Oxbow, Quadra can provide solutions to customers in the following markets and industries: water filtration (point-of-entry and point-of-use), Food & Beverage, Gold Recovery & Mining, Oil & Gas processing, Chemical, Air purification, Automotive, Catalyst, Pharma, and many more.

This product is used in the following industries:

Personal Care
Food Ingredients
Chemical Manufacturing
Oil, Gas & Energy
Cleaning & Formulating


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