The major difference between activated charcoal and charcoal briquettes is that the activated charcoal is an alternative medicine and charcoal briquettes are a type of fuel. Although the process is similar in making the two types of charcoal, activated charcoal is made of non-toxic products and includes one additional step in the production process.
Activated charcoal is a charcoal substance made from bone char, coconut shells, peat, petroleum coke, coal, olive pits, and/or sawdust. In order to activate the charcoal, it is oxidized using steam or air at high temperatures. The activation process is what gives this substance its medical properties as it increases the surface area of the charcoal by making in more porous than regular charcoal.
Uses of Activated Charcoal
Medical professionals use activated charcoal to treat drug overdose or poisoning in humans because of its ability to bind to the toxins in the stomach in order to prevent the body from absorbing them. Activated charcoal is available over the counter at most health food stores and pharmacies for use at home against an upset stomach, flatulence and indigestion. Water filtration systems and aquarium filtering systems also use activated charcoal to catch harmful toxins that are invisible to the human eye.
Many of the same materials used in making activated charcoal are used in making charcoal briquettes. Additional resources used in making this type of charcoal are agricultural wastes and other dry biomass. Additional toxins that may be present in commercial charcoal briquettes are similar to lighter fluid, such as with quick start BBQ briquettes. All charcoal briquettes are toxic to humans.
Uses of Charcoal Briquettes
The most common use for charcoal briquettes is outdoor cooking such as BBQ's and pit fires. However, as fuel is increasingly becoming expensive, charcoal is an alternative fuel source in third world countries. Charcoal briquettes are also used for odor control in garages, attics and closets.