Activated carbon in food

Black bread made with activated carbon

What molecules does activated carbon adsorb in food?

Activated carbon adsorbs almost any molecule around it that fits into its pores, although it prefers more covalent and less volatile ones. The most covalent molecules are the less ionic and less polar ones. The less volatile molecules tend to be higher molecular weight. In fact, when we open a bag with activated carbon, it is already saturated with oxygen from the air.

However, the adsorption with which the activated carbon traps molecules is usually reversible. When applied, it will release oxygen, which, although very covalent, is very volatile, and will retain other molecules of less volatility.

From the above, when an activated carbon is part of a food (Black Food), it is already saturated with molecules that make up that food. When ingested, during its passage through the gastrointestinal tract, if the carbon finds molecules for which it has greater affinity, it will leave free those that it has adsorbed, and it will adsorb the most similar ones. If the carbon was produced from a soft wood, such as pine, and activated with phosphoric acid, it will have a significant percentage of large pores and will adsorb a considerable amount of large molecules, such as proteins from a hard wood, such as coconut shell, and was thermally activated, it will prefer small, volatile molecules.

If the ingested carbon lets go of a significant proportion of molecules that were adsorbed to the food of which it was a part, and exchanges them for others, there will be an effect on the person who ingested it. This effect may or may not be beneficial. It all depends on what the carbon retains in its passage through the person´s body.

Those of us who are involved in the world of activated carbon and who prefer a cautions and scientific approach tend to expect less than what carbon usually provides.

However, we must not forget that there are applications in which commercial benefits are promised, and which have no scientific basis in the field of chemistry: this is the case of many masks, shampoos and toothpastes with activated carbon. These only generate expectations and illusions and, because the belong to the emotional plane, but only because of that, sometimes they also work!

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