The 10 Best Charcoal Toothpastes

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This wiki has been updated 28 times since it was first published in January of 2017. While using a jet-black goo to enhance the whiteness of your smile might seem counterintuitive, these toothpastes are surprisingly effective at doing so. They may also help fight bad breath and reduce the buildup of plaque. Be aware, though, that there is some indication that charcoal's abrasiveness may wear down your enamel over time, so we recommend consulting your dentist before trying these. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Zen Charcoal Hardwood

2. Hello Oral Care

3. FineVine Mint

Editor's Notes

June 25, 2019:

We want to make sure our readers are aware of the current scientific consensus on charcoal toothpaste. Experts believe that while charcoal does have some benefits when used as a toothpaste, it can also wear down the enamel due to its abrasiveness, potentially resulting in permanent damage. The American Dental Association concluded in a report from 2017 that there is “insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices.” Some people decide to use charcoal sparingly — perhaps once every few days. Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but we strongly recommend consulting your dentist before making the plunge.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, here's a bit about the products themselves. As one can imagine, our top picks are all fairly similar, given that there is only so much variation that can be expected from a tube (or tub) of toothpaste. Some differ a bit in granularity, while others have distinct flavors. Some stand out for their intentional lack of flavor. We quite like powdered options that you add to a paste yourself, like Zen Charcoal Hardwood (#1) and Living Earth Black Pearl (#6), but some may not enjoy the inconvenience of manual application, which can be messy.

Speaking of messes, some of these tend to leave much less of a mark in your sink than others. Our #2 pick, Hello Oral Care, is pretty good at not turning your whole sink into the color of a sickly old whale.

We recommend trying one or two of these, and seeing what best suits you. Toothpaste, after all, is a matter of taste. Again, be sure to keep your enamel safe.

4. My Magic Mud

5. Hyperbiotics All Natural

6. Living Earth Black Pearl

7. Cali White

8. inVitamin Tooth & Gum Powder

9. Active Wow

10. Lavinso Powder

What Is Charcoal Toothpaste And How Does It Work?

If you plan on using this product for multiple applications, a jar of charcoal powder may be the way to go.

Charcoal toothpaste is the latest dental trend to help you attain that coveted pearly white smile. Activated charcoal has been used as a key ingredient in hair and skin care products, like charcoal soaps, for quite some time now. It made its way into oral care due to its ability to absorb impurities. Activated charcoal is made from peat (decomposed vegetable matter), coconuts, and other substances, which are processed at a very high temperature to give them a more porous surface. Once activated, it has the ability to bind to stains and plaque, making it a natural, at-home teeth whitening solution. The mineral sticks to the teeth and effectively removes plaque, food particles, and surface stains from coffee, tea, and wine once rinsed off. It doesn't contain bleach or synthetic additives and chemicals, which you often find in regular toothpaste, making it an appealing option to those living a natural way of life.

There are three different forms of activated charcoal: capsule, powder, and paste. The capsules contain a small dosage of the powder and are meant for one time use. You simply crack open the capsule onto a surface, dab a damp brush head into it, and start working the mixture onto your teeth. After two to three minutes, you rinse your mouth as you would with normal toothpaste. If you plan on using this product for multiple applications, a jar of charcoal powder may be the way to go. To use the powder, you simple mix a half teaspoon of it into water and apply the newly formed paste to your teeth, skin, or hair.

With the ready-made paste form, you apply a pea-sized amount onto your toothbrush, just like with regular toothpaste. When you first apply the product, it may look a little scary, but you'll get used to this tasteless and odorless wonder in no time. It can also help freshen breath by killing odor-causing bacteria present in your mouth. These three different forms essentially offer the same benefits. Which you use will just depend on your personal preference. The raw powder and capsule forms are slightly harsher on the teeth and best used just a couple of times a week. Their texture tends to be a little more coarse than regular toothpaste, as well. The ready-made paste form is mixed with other ingredients, so it is less potent and can be used on a daily basis. Do not confuse activated charcoal with charcoal briquettes, as the charcoal you use with BBQs has not been activated and can be toxic to humans if ingested.

The Benefits Of Using Charcoal Toothpaste?

Using charcoal is a traditional way to clean teeth in rural Tanzania and other parts of Africa, where access to modern toothpastes may be limited. With the demand for all-natural and organic products on the rise, however, this old method is becoming popular in modern societies, too. It can be used not only to clean teeth, but whiten them as well, so if you've been looking for a product to brighten your smile in a more natural way, this may be your answer.

With the demand for all-natural and organic products on the rise, however, this old method is becoming popular in modern societies, too.

Unlike with most dedicated teeth whitening solutions, with charcoal toothpastes, you don't have to put cumbersome trays in your mouth or deal with that uncomfortable tingling sensation. Another major difference between charcoal toothpastes and leading teeth whiteners is the lack of artificial ingredients. Charcoal toothpastes are free from chemicals, such as sodium fluoride, carbamide peroxide, propylene glycol, sodium laurel sulfate, and saccharin, which are often used in teeth whiteners and could potentially have harmful long-term effects.

There are charcoal toothpastes to fit every need. They are available in vegan and organic varieties suitable for those with more restrictive lifestyles. This means anybody can find a product they feel comfortable applying to their teeth. Using your preferred choice of charcoal toothpaste at least two to three times a week can effectively lift surface stains from your enamel and give you noticeable results in less than a month. Most products are not meant to replace regular toothpaste, however, but to be used as an additional step to enhance your oral hygiene routine.

History of Activated Charcoal

Charcoal dates back as far as Ancient Egypt, when it was the material of choice used to produce bronze due to its ability to burn at high temperatures. The Egyptians unexpectedly discovered that charcoal also had other benefits, such as anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, which helped them to preserve wood from rotting. Soon after, they started using the material to absorb unpleasant odors, cure intestinal ailments, and even preserve corpses. The Ancient Hindus and Phoenicians identified its ability to purify water, which later proved helpful for many sailors, including Christopher Columbus.

It is also often used in lab technician masks and kidney dialysis machines.

Around the 1700s, doctors and scientists began experimenting with the mineral for medicinal purposes, and by the 20th century, activated carbon was being produced on an industrial scale in Europe. At the time, it was only available in the form of powdered activated carbon and was mainly used for decolorizing solutions in the chemical and food industries. Around the time of World War I, America started to develop granular activated carbon on a large scale. It was used in gas masks to protect soldiers from inhaling poisonous gases.

Today, charcoal can be found in a variety of industries, including corn and cane sugar refining, gas absorption, dry cleaning, pharmaceuticals, fat and oil removal, alcoholic beverage production, and more. It also has a presence in many day to day products, such as coffee filters, facial masks, deodorants, air purifiers, and shampoos. Charcoal has proven applications in the medical field, as well, for not only removing toxins ingested by humans, but also by animals. It is also often used in lab technician masks and kidney dialysis machines.

Daniel Goldstein
Last updated by Daniel Goldstein

Daniel is a writer, musician, and frequent traveler with a bachelor’s in creative writing from the State University of New York. In recent years, his writing chops have developed alongside his musical skills, thanks to a rich double life. During the day, he apprenticed with “Rolling Stone” journalist and critic Will Hermes, and when the sun set, he and his NYC-based, four-piece band gigged at high-end venues across the northeastern United States. His affinity for sharing things he's passionate about has culminated in nine years of experience as a music teacher at elementary schools, where he honed his ability to simplify and elucidate concepts to the uninitiated. All considered, he feels most at home writing about instruments, audio electronics and backpacking gear.

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