What Kind of Charcoal Do You Use to Remove Odors?

Activated charcoal safely and effectively removes odors. Activated charcoal absorbs odors in closets, bathrooms, refrigerators, litter box areas and RVs. Charcoal grilling briquettes also eliminate odors, but they are not as safe and effective as activated charcoal. Grilling briquettes often contain chemicals or lighter fluid, which are not safe to use in many areas of the home. Treated briquettes contain strong chemicals, which only add to the odor problem.

Activated charcoal removes offensive household odors.


Wood subjected to extreme high temperatures in a sealed container without oxygen creates charcoal. Oxidation turns charcoal into activated charcoal. The oxidation process treats the charcoal with oxygen, creating small openings in the charcoal. These openings absorb odors.


The highly porous surface area of activated charcoal attracts odors in the air. Air passes through the charcoal, and odor-causing chemicals bond with the surface of the activated charcoal. Activated charcoal varies in effectiveness depending on the size and number of pores. Manufacturing methods and the source of the charcoal influence the size and quantity of the pores.


Purchase activated charcoal at home improvement stores, pharmacies, aquarium suppliers or through online retailers. Place the activated charcoal in cheesecloth. Tie up the cloth into a sachet. Hang it in the area where you wish to remove odors. For refrigerator use, place it in a shallow bowl or tray.


Eventually the bonding areas in activated charcoal fill up and stop absorbing odors. Replace the activated charcoal when it loses its effectiveness.