What is activated carbon and when can it be used?


EOG Member
Activated carbon has some special properties. Namely, that it can absorb gases. This means that as the odors are passing through your filter, the carbon can capture them.Activated carbon has many tiny crevices that work great for catching the odors. It works well with smoke odors and VOC (volatile organic compounds).coconut shell activated carbon

One gram of activated carbon has a surface area greater than 32,000 square feet. It’s incredible how much surface area this creates to adsorb odors.While carbon works well in removing most odors it is not effective for all.The most notable gas carbon is not effective with is formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is common in building materials. Think furniture, flooring, and carpeting.In this case a substance like potassium permanganate is sometimes used. This can capture things like formaldehyde that carbon can struggle with.

Charcoal is a substance of carbon and ash that is usually made from coal, wood, coconut shell or petroleum. It is most often the items used as a briquette for cooking.Activated charcoal is essentially the same as activated carbon. Activated charcoal is charcoal that is heated with a gas that causes the charcoal to develop the crevices.

Here is an overview of how carbon is classified.

Carbon that is broken down into fine powder is called PAC. Powder activated carbon. This is less than 1mm in diameter. The benefit to this is that you get a ton of surface area to adsorb odors. And you will not need as much to get the same fresh air smell. The downside is it does not last as long.

GAC or granular activated carbon is commonly used in air filters. These are the pellets of carbon. They offer a good balance of odor removal ability and lifespan. It does not have the amount of surface area that you get with PAC however it lasts much longer.

Carbon is sometimes treated with silver, potassium permanganate or other substances to give the filter better performance. In the section below we cover some of the gaps in what carbon can do. By impregnating a substance onto GAC you give it the ability to remove a wider range of chemical gases.This is how they filter water. Granular activated carbon has a treatment to remove the sulfides and make it clean. Some air filters use this same method. A treatment is applied to the carbon to make it effective for difficult gases like natural gas or formaldehyde.activated carbon manufacturers