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This is following a question on Skeptics Stackexchange, where apparently medical science claims that activated charcoal can adsorb poison when ingested.
One of the members posted a related question on this forum asking about burnt toast having properties of activated charcoal.

Although the question on the toast isn't answered properly, at least could anyone here validate if activated charcoal can actually retain its adsorptive properties even when it is soaked in human saliva, digestive juices and tea and/or water?

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  • $\begingroup$ Given that activated charcoal is used in emergency rooms on a regular basis, I'd say it likely has some effect. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer May 8 '17 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ I searched for papers that prove how exactly it works, but couldn't find anything, which is why I asked here. I just hope the doctors aren't just following hearsay just because they didn't have the time to perform lab tests to check the validity of the claim. Perhaps the activated charcoal / burnt toast only has a placebo effect? btw, even homeopathy is said to only have a placebo effect on people: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy $\endgroup$ – Nav May 8 '17 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ I think this is very similar to using activated carbon in swimming pool and aquarium filters. In this case I can attest to the clarification of aquarium water with the overdue change of an activated carbon filter. It's just a matter of the partition coefficient between water and the carbon for the compound of interest. Some compounds preferentially adsorb to the carbon, some preferentially stay dissolved in the aqueous solution. These adsorption coefficients have been published for hundreds if not thousands of organic compounds (for water/activated carbon at least, maybe not carbon/bile). $\endgroup$ – airhuff May 8 '17 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ Also, activated carbon is used as a stationary phase in liquid chromatography. This wouldn't work if different organic compounds didn't adsorb to the activated carbon in the liquid (usually aqueous) phase. $\endgroup$ – airhuff May 8 '17 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ Could you share a link to the adsorption coefficients? I saw a lot of articles about the adsorption properties of activated charcoal on Google Scholar. So it seems like the claims are true after all. $\endgroup$ – Nav May 9 '17 at 6:44

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