Difference between Charcoal and Activated Charcoal (With Table)

Charcoal and activated charcoal are both derived from carbon. For many years people have thought charcoal is charcoal without knowing that there is a difference between charcoal and activated charcoal.

Charcoal is obtained by heating wood and other organic materials at high temperatures in absence of oxygen. The product is categorized as a human-made substance.

Activated charcoal is obtained by heating charcoal itself or carbon-rich materials at high temperatures. The charcoal powder is then burned with other substances like chloride salts to form activated charcoal.

So, what is the main difference between charcoal and activated charcoal? Charcoal is obtained by burning wood at high temperatures in absence of oxygen while activated charcoal is obtained by carbon-rich materials at high temperatures in addition to other substances.

This article is going to give you the differences between charcoal and activated charcoal in tabular form. You will also get to learn about the similarities.

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Comparison Table (Charcoal vs. Activated Charcoal)

Basic TermsCharcoalActivated Charcoal
DefinitionIt is a substance obtained from burning wood at high temperatures in absence of oxygen.It is a substance obtained from burning carbon-rich materials at high temperatures in addition to other substances.
ProcessIt is done by burning wood at high temperatures without oxygen.It is done by burning carbon and other substances at high temperatures.
Heating temperatureLess heat is needed to burn.More heat is needed to burn.
PropertiesIt is a bad conductor of heat and electricity, has a low density and it is porous.It has a greater surface area hence an excellent absorbent.
UsesUsed for teeth whitening and oral health, filtration of water, cooking product, and treatment of diarrhea.Used in skincare products, deodorant, water filtration, and treatment of intestinal gas.
PorosityLess porous.Highly porous.
Water filterIt is less effective for water filtration.It is comparatively more effective for water filtration.

What is Charcoal?

Charcoal is a substance that is obtained from burning wood or other organic materials at high temperatures in absence of oxygen.

Charcoal does not naturally occur in nature. It is a human product. It has many structural properties that include; porous structure, brittle in nature, a bad conductor of heat and electricity, and has low density.

Its composition and structure make it possible to be added to its usefulness such as tooth whitening products, oral health products, water filtration, and treatment of diarrhea.

Ashes from charcoal are also useful. They are used in skincare products and in gardening. It contains toxins hence it can be used as fertilizers.

What is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is a substance obtained from burning carbon-rich materials with other substances at very high temperatures.

Carbon-rich materials include; wood, coconut sawdust, peat, or charcoal itself. Additional substances burned to form activated charcoal may include; acids, strong bases, or salts.

The high temperatures make the molecules and ions bind tightly with each other. It has very many structural properties.

The properties include; more excellent pore size distribution as compared to standard charcoal. It also has greater absorbing capabilities and is more porous as compared to standard charcoal.

Activated charcoal is important in various fields. It is used in skincare products, helps in the production of deodorants, is used in water filtration, and in medicines such as the ones used to treat intestinal gas.

Main Difference between Charcoal and Activated Charcoal

  1. Charcoal is prepared by burning wood at high temperatures in absence of oxygen while activated charcoal is prepared by burning carbon-rich materials at very high temperatures.
  2. Charcoal is prepared at a high temperature while activated charcoal is prepared at a very high temperature.
  3. Charcoal is prepared in absence of oxygen while activated charcoal is prepared in presence of oxygen.
  4. Charcoal is comparatively less porous while activated charcoal is more porous.
  5. Charcoal is used for teeth whitening, treatment of diarrhea, water filtration, and oral health while activated charcoal is used for skincare products, water filtration, treatment of intestinal gas, and the making of deodorants.

Similarities between Charcoal and Activated Charcoal

  1. Both are made from carbon-rich materials.
  2. Both are prepared under high temperatures.
  3. Both are porous.
  4. Both are used for water filtrating.

Conclusion

Charcoal and activated charcoal are both products from carbon-rich materials which are burned under high temperatures.

The two have not been easily differentiated by people but they are completely different from each other.

The main difference between charcoal and activated charcoal is that charcoal is prepared by burning wood and other organic materials under high temperatures in absence of oxygen while activated charcoal is prepared by burning carbon-rich materials and other substances under very high temperatures.

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