Bizarre Beauty Hacks: I Whitened My Teeth With Charcoal And Here’s What Happened

Abi Scott
Hullo there. I'm Abi Scott, a 23-year-old, Denver based writer with a bachelor's degree in English Lit. Aside from all that boring stuff, here are some things I tend to enjoy: bold red wines, hat days because that's one less day I have to wash her hair, $1 Saint Candles from Walmart, writing, any and all types of cheeses, dogs with expressive faces, finding that perfect winter sweater and wearing it for three days straight, Indian food, low maintenance house plants, leather boots, songs that you loved in the ninth grade but still play today for nostalgia's sake, dimly lit coffee shops, photographs that make me look thin and young, and long haired men. Here are some things I don't really enjoy but tolerate, as they are a necessary part of modern society or Asian cuisine: baby corn cobs (like the ones Tom Hanks eats in "Big"), people publicly texting instead of paying attention to the world around them, driving to destinations under a mile away, dressing room lighting, warm beer, simple math, cliché signs that tell you to dance in the rain (you should dance in the rain if you want, but if it's too cold or you would rather not get wet that day, then so be it), Starbucks, musical movies (except "Les Mis" because come on, Hugh Jackman is a god among men), and photographs taken from a low angle that make it look like I have three chins.

It’s Activated Charcoal to the rescue.

After almost eight years of coffee, wine, and the occasional cigarette, my mouth was beginning to look like a poor man’s attempt at a Nelly impression, with tea stains as stand-ins for gold plates. I turned to over-the-counter whitening but found the increased sensitivity from any brand of white strip to be too much. I couldn’t even look at an ice cream cone without hearing my lateral incisors weep. Also, I’m cheap and paying upwards of $30 for white teeth that will literally become stained the second I stop using the strips.


So, I turned to the far reaches of the internet and combed past the generic baking soda and hydrogen peroxide suggestions to dig up this little gem: activated charcoal.

It’s essentially charcoal, but treated for medicinal uses, such as drug overdoses, hangover remedies, and gas alleviation. So it’s different from the stuff you put in a Weber grill, but not that far off. It’s heated to so that the charcoal forms tiny holes throughout, which then work to absorb toxins the charcoal comes in contact with. Legend has it, the holes also absorb plaque and residue that cause our teeth to look yellow.



Most health food groceries sell it for about $10 a bottle and each bottle contains about 60 capsules. It will stain everything it touches. So before you brush, definitely lay an old towel down and dress in a hazmat suit because this dark, black powder gets everywhere.


I started by emptying one capsule in a small bowl and added a few drops of water to make a paste. Simple enough. So I dipped my tooth brush in the paste, amply coated it, and started to brush. Almost immediately, my mouth resembled that of an Oreo Cookie addict or cheaply costumed horror movie extra. It really wasn’t pretty and the fact that charcoal stained saliva started to drip down my chin and stain my skin was initially unsettling.


I soldiered on and reminded myself that my black gums weren’t permanent (hopefully). I brushed for about two minutes then rinsed my mouth out for five. It never once tasted unpleasant; in fact, it didn’t really taste like anything, but it is freaky looking.

After finally ridding my teeth and gums from the chimney soot I had voluntarily coated them with, I smiled, expecting to be blinded by my newly whitened chiclets. Honestly, I couldn’t tell immediately if the charcoal had done anything, but with one check of my catalog worthy before and after pictures, and I could see a visible, albeit slight, difference!


All in all, this beauty hack is totally worth it. The most annoying part was the clean up of my sink and toothbrush, but I saw my teeth whiten at least a shade in just once use. So I’ll continue to brush a few times a week with carbon and ash in hopes that I can save a few pennies but still score a Colgate Commercial worthy smile. You should too. At the very least, you’ll get some pretty weird pictures.