Clickbait Articles Claim You Should Scatter Charcoal Around Home — Should You Actually Try This?

Avoid spreading loose charcoal in your home if you have companion animals and children in your family.

Jamie Bichelman - Author

Jun. 28 2024, Published 10:07 a.m. ET

Powdered charcoal is contained in a wooden spoon atop a pile of bricks of charcoal.
Source: iStock

There are many purported benefits of activated charcoal, from buoying the health of the plants in your garden and removing the stains from your teeth to managing the odor in menstrual pads. As we ponder if charcoal is truly an eco-friendly solution to many concerns in our health and wellness routine, it raises the question of whether activated charcoal is likewise safe to scatter throughout our homes.

Many influencers and clickbait articles seem to think so, but does the science agree?

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It bears repeating that scattering anything loosely throughout your home might cause a choking or health hazard for children and companion animals. Additionally, if you and your family or companion animals experience respiratory problems, anything that could trigger these concerns is worth discussing with your medical provider.

Let's explore whether scattering activated charcoal in your home is a safe idea.

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Various articles with the headline "Scatter Charcoal Throughout Your Home And Watch What Happens Overnight" lead to eye rolls from the internet.

As Chicago-based Sankofa Online writes, "millions of Americans have started to scatter charcoal throughout their homes" for a trifecta of reasons: attracting microscopic particles such as dust and mold spores, trapping these particles, and, in turn, cleansing the air in your home as a filter would. Curiously, the same message is copied and reprinted elsewhere throughout the internet.

Articles extolling the benefits of charcoal are everywhere, and not just in fringe corners of the internet. These articles are everywhere, from HGTV purporting charcoal's benefits to include traping volatile chemicals to the Bob Vila home improvement website advising readers to use charcoal to de-ice their home in winter, remedy furniture scratches on hardwood, absorb excess moisture and funky odors from the home.

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So, why the cacophony of collective eye rolls? Because, as Reddit explains, what happens next is that your home will smell like charcoal. "Next time on Things You Won't Believe: If You Spray Water Everywhere, Your House Will Get Wet!" one Redditor snarkily comments.

Additionally, Redditors point out that the collection of clickbaity articles are essentially advertisements for bamboo charcoal, while activated charcoal is the most widely accepted form for odor and moisture control.

Is there an actual reason to scatter charcoal in your home?

No, there isn't much reason to actually scatter charcoal powder around your home.

According to research published in ScienceDirect, activated charcoal may absorb odors and control excess moisture. Again, this underscores that activated charcoal is the recommended form, rather than other forms being marketed in clickbait articles, like bamboo charcoal.

This is also to say nothing of the potential for a burst of wind or air conditioning to blow loose charcoal scattered in the home and cause a dangerous, black-staining mess throughout.

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So, why would mommy blogs and influencers convince you to scatter bamboo charcoal throughout your living space when modern filtration already exists in homes?

For the same reason that money-wasting juice cleanses, child-aimed parasite cleanses, fear-mongering heavy metal detox cleanses, and weight-loss teas exist and are proliferated through plays on consumer fears and insecurities.

What the countless homeopathic influencer videos and clickbait articles fail to mention is the intended method to properly enjoy the benefits of charcoal in the home.

As a Costco product information sheet explains, bamboo charcoal is marketed to eliminate odors and toxins, but only if it receives hours of direct sunlight periodically; if it's scattered throughout the closet, in the refrigerator, or other dark areas, it is never receiving the sunlight it purportedly needs to do its job effectively.

As USA Today explains, it's safer to utilize activated charcoal when it's contained in a sock or sachet rather than loose in a bowl and scattered throughout the home. As always, consult your medical provider before introducing anything in your home recommended by an influencer or clickbait article with money to gain from your purchase.

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