Activated charcoal is one of the best cleansers and most absorbent substances in the world. What’s interesting about it is that it’s not powerful because of some chemical property, but rather because of the structure of the charcoal itself.

Imagine you have a piece of paper. If you fold that piece of paper and open it back up, the crease in the paper can accumulate some dust or sand or something you pour over it. It will absorb – or catch – a little of the substance, but not much. If you fold the paper up back and forth a lot, in an accordion pattern, then pour your sand over it, it will catch and hold a lot more.

This is sort of how activated charcoal works. At a microscopic level, activated charcoal has a ton of holes and divots that attract and catch particles of other things, like dirt and oil. It does this essentially at a molecular level, far smaller than our paper example.

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