Does Activated Charcoal Kill Mold?

Every now and then, a new solution is presented for an age-old problem. Lately there has been a lot of buzz about using activated charcoal to kill mold in homes. We’ll discuss mold, activated charcoal, and if it is true that it kills mold.

While it might not seem like that big of a threat on the surface, mold can be an insidious substance that causes damage to buildings and puts people at increased risk for illness and chronic health conditions. It can also be surprisingly difficult to eliminate once an active mold colony manages to establish a presence in your home or place of business.

Mold can also establish a hidden presence in some of the most unlikely of places, including areas such as behind wallpaper, under the sink, deep inside a crawlspace, behind drywall, or even under a carpet. Just to name a few.

Of course, mold can also grow in noticeably overt places such as in a damp basement or a known water-damaged area. Even the woodwork in your bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen can be vulnerable to mold buildup caused by lingering condensation or high ambient humidity.

Add to this the fact that some strains of mold can go from a miniscule, microscopic mold spore to germinate into a dangerous, active mold colony within 24 to 48 hours. This is especially true with porous water-damaged materials like wood or drywall.

If you see the early signs of a mold problem in your home or office, time is of the essence. Eliminating the mold in its early stages will go a long way toward preventing the colony from growing or spreading to other vulnerable areas.

Potential Signs of a Mold Problem

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There are a few visually obvious signs of an active mold problem in your home or office. This includes things like:

  • Discolored splotches on woodwork
  • Discolored patches on drywall
  • Changes in color on previously water-stained surfaces
  • Musty or earthy odors in one or more rooms
  • Bubbles or blisters in the paint
  • Bubbles or blisters behind wallpaper
  • Noticeably affected carpeting

Dealing With a Minor Mold Problem Yourself

In some of these instances, you might be able to eliminate a minor mold colony on your own. One of the more interesting methods suggested for doing this is to use activated charcoal. However, this is one of those times where we need to take a closer look at the nuts and bolts details of activated charcoal’s effectiveness against mold.

What is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is essentially made of the same material you find being used for charcoal grills. This is basically wood that is heated without the presence of oxygen. Only activated charcoal is specially processed at higher temperatures to “Activate” it. This alters the composition and the surface texture, including producing a higher density of microscopic “Nucleation Sites” on the surface of the charcoal.

Activated charcoal is used in a wide range of applications this includes things like a water filtration system, aquarium filtration systems, certain air filtration systems, and medical uses. In fact it the medical industry uses activated charcoal as part of the “Stomach Pumping” process to help treat and purge the digestive tract of individuals who have accidentally consumed something that is considered toxic or poisonous

You can even find activated charcoal in household cleaning and personal hygiene products. Some toothpaste manufacturers even include finely ground activated charcoal in some of their oral hygiene products.

With so many uses on so many levels it leaves some people wondering, can activated charcoal be used to help clean up a minor interior mold problem?

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Activated Charcoal for Mold Removal

One of the more interesting potential uses for activated charcoal involves using it to help clean and remove mold from surfaces. Though there are some questions about just how effective activated charcoal is for truly eliminating the presence of mold, mold spores, and potentially dangerous mycotoxins.

At first glance, there is some validity to active charcoal’s ability to. Though it is important to note that activated charcoal on its own will not completely remove an active mold colony or prevent mold damage.

What activated charcoal is good for is removing potentially harmful mycotoxins from the air. These are toxins created by mold and fungus, that have the potential to cause respiratory irritation, trigger chronic inflammation conditions, and can make you sick when you are in the presence of a mold-infested environment.

Mycotoxins essentially attach themselves to mold spores, that are released from an active mold colony into the air. When they come in contact with activated charcoal, in something like an air filter, the mold spores and mycotoxins bind themselves to the nucleation sites on the activated charcoal’s surface.

So while activated charcoal is largely ineffective for actual surface cleaning, it can help slow down the effects of mold damage on your home, as well as helping to prevent or reduce the effects of mold sickness.

How to Use Activated Charcoal to Deal With a Mold Problem

Activated charcoal is sometimes found in supplements that people ingest. Though in the case of an indoor mold problem with airborne mold spores and mycotoxins, consuming activated charcoal is wholly ineffective. Instead, it is best to either add an activated charcoal filter to one of your air filters or to purchase an air filter that is specifically engineered to use an activated charcoal filter.

You can then strategically place that filter in a room where you suspect there is an active mold problem. While this doesn’t count as an effective mold remediation strategy, it can help reduce the spread of mold spores and mycotoxins to the rest of the home or office while you are seeking professional help from a mold remediation specialist.

Can I Clean Up a Mold Problem Myself?

If you have a very minor mold problem in your home or place of business you might be able to clean it away with an oxygen-based cleaning solution. Bleach itself will kill the surface of an active mold colony but is ineffective for killing the microscopic roots that mold uses to anchor itself on a porous surface. You might kill the top layers of the colony with bleach only to see it return a few days or weeks later.

Of course, the additional risk with trying to clean up a mold problem on your own is that you could disturb the colony, causing it to release a high volume of mold spores and mycotoxins into the air. While an activated charcoal filter can help catch some of them, you will ultimately end up with a significant volume of mold spores dispersing to new environments in the building.

Not to mention the very real likelihood that there is mold lurking in other unseen or hard-to-find areas of the property.

If you have an active mold problem, it is always best to contact a professional mold remediation company like Aladdin’s Cleaning & Restoration.