Every day you learn something new, and that’s great. But some days are extra special. Some days, you learn things about the “fecal liberation of intestinal gases.” Those days are the best.

I knew that activated charcoal water filters existed. These filters, alternately known as granular activated carbon filters, are made of grains of charcoal that have been treated with gas. The gas has put lots of little nooks and crannies in the charcoal, exposing as much of its surface as possible. The surface binds to chemicals like chlorine, or to hydrogen sulfide—the chemical behind the famous rotten egg smell.


I didn’t know that people took activated carbon supplements to get rid of hydrogen sulfide, until I stumbled across this gem of a study. Confounded by activated charcoal’s lack of effectiveness when dealing with stomach gas, the study authors thought perhaps that it could soak up “intestinal” hydrogen sulfide, which would otherwise be “released by feces,” or “flatus.”

It’s tough to say what’s the best part. Maybe the best part is the fact that five different adults volunteered to have their farts and their feces measured by volume and chemical content both before and after an activated charcoal treatment. Maybe it’s the fact that the people running the study performed experiments during which they measured how well hydrogen sulfide was taken up by the activated charcoal—with artificially-created hydrogen sulfide. I think, though, that the best part is the fact that the study authors came up with the phrase, “fecal liberation of intestinal gas.” Brothers and sisters, we are all liberators now.

As for the results, unfortunately activated charcoal does nothing to reduce gas. The study authors believe this is because, by passing through the gut, the charcoal is already saturated with all kinds of nasty stuff before it’s even exposed to hydrogen sulfide. What a waste.


[Source: Failure of Activated Charcoal to Reduce the Release of Gases Produced by Colonic Flora]

Charcoal Image: Ischaramoochie