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Does immersing (a) charcoal / (b) activated charcoal (both clean, no ash) into distillate water influences water's pH? If yes - in which direction - acidic or alkaline?

If there is an influence - is this influence reduced with each new immersion into new water (i.e. charcoal gets rinsed)?

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, the pH can change depending on source of carbons. $\endgroup$
    – AChem
    Mar 4, 2023 at 22:08
  • $\begingroup$ What are you actually trying to do or achieve in # 3? $\endgroup$
    – AChem
    Mar 4, 2023 at 22:14
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    $\begingroup$ The vinegar story is not right. Activated charcoal is difficult to make as home. You need very high temperatures (like 900 C) and an inert atmosphere. $\endgroup$
    – AChem
    Mar 4, 2023 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ Yes complete disinformation. $\endgroup$
    – AChem
    Mar 5, 2023 at 20:15
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    $\begingroup$ Pure water exposed to air is never neutral with pH 7, but has pH about 5.6 due traces of dissolved carbon dioxide, which is weakly acidic. Tap water is pH neutral just accidentally. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Mar 5, 2023 at 21:12

2 Answers 2

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As far as I know, pH will not be affected.

Carbon is not soluble in water and does not react with it under normal conditions. Hence why carbon can be used for filtration systems. Activated carbon is chemically the same.

And activated carbon that you buy is very unlikely to be contaminated with acids.

Method of production does not matter. Though I'm not sure that vinegar would make activated carbon. If the "activated" carbon is still wet with vinegar, then obviously pH will decrease.

Hopefully that answers your question.

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  • $\begingroup$ Carbons (not necessarily activated carbon) can change water pH. They can have acidic functional groups bonded to their surface. $\endgroup$
    – AChem
    Mar 5, 2023 at 2:15
  • $\begingroup$ Define carbons. Are you talking about organic acids? In that case, yes. But they aren't C(s). Are you talking about acids adsorbed onto impure carbon? Yeah, I talked about that. $\endgroup$
    – Video Carp
    Mar 5, 2023 at 3:48
  • $\begingroup$ Carbons are carbons (solid carbonized stuff). They are not organic acids. $\endgroup$
    – AChem
    Mar 5, 2023 at 3:53
  • $\begingroup$ @AChem - I'm interested in charcoal/biochar (completely washed from ashes) - will it influence pH? $\endgroup$ Mar 5, 2023 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ @AChem - and if carbons/charcoal/biochar do change water pH - in what way? Will it become more acidic or more alkaline? $\endgroup$ Mar 5, 2023 at 20:21
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Active charcoal/carbon alone is indifferent with respect to water $\mathrm{pH}$.

But what may matter is what has been adsorbed on the active surface and can be released to water, or adsorbed from water (ammonia, acetic acid, carbon dioxide etc).

$\mathrm{pH}$ of pure destilled water is very unstable, affected by dissolved impurities from solid surfaces or air. The major factor is aerial $\ce{CO2}$ forming equilibrium $\mathrm{pH} \approx 5.6$, making water slightly acidic. These effects may overrule the effect the active charcoal.

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