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Rolling charcoal poultice

How To Make A (Neat) Charcoal Poultice

What in the world is a charcoal poultice, anyway??

Funny you should ask!  This is something you’ve simply got  to learn about!

From the blog archives

This article is technically a reblog  I wrote it several years back, and published it on my family blog, than later on my homeschooling blog, both of which I have retired.  For that reason, I wanted to make it available to my current readers  

My most clicked on blog post by far is the one I wrote on Brown Recluse Spider Bite! This is a true account of what happened when our young son got bit by a spider, and how we treated it, primarily with charcoal poultices.

This post may contain affiliate links 

Brown recluse spider bite


Charcoal is a remedy you should get to know  

Charcoal is great for bites and tons of other ailments  I hope you keep reading to find out more about this very useful remedy


And this is from my previously published article (with updates):

Almost exactly one year ago (now many years),  on my other blog, I posted this instructional.  That was probably my most important blog post, in terms of posts that we would like to refer people back to.  For that reason, I am posting it here, so that anyone can freely access the recipe and method.

Here goes…

Making a Charcoal Poultice

I do not normally like to do “how-to” blogs for several reasons.

  1. I think it’s sort of silly to post twenty pictures of how I made my apple pie, etc., when you probably already know how to.  🙂
  2. I figure that the web already has enough how-to posts out there, and so why waste my time in repeating info that other people are already showing?
  3. I don’t like to take the time to show, step by step, how to do things.  I’d rather just show the finished product and let you take the steps needed to get there, as long as it’s pretty obvious.
  4. I don’t feel like I am an authority in most areas, so don’t want to present myself as an expert, offering advice.

With that said, there are some times when I do recognize that you need a step-by-step instructional, if it’s something new or different.  So, although you will not see many of this type of instructionals from me, I do want to share this one.

Enough talking, let’s get to it!  

It’s for how to make a charcoal poultice.  That’s right, poultice.  So…what is that?!?  By definition, a poultice is:


noun \ˈpōl-təs\

: a soft, usually heated substance that is spread on cloth and then placed on the skin to heal a sore or reduce pain

Bandaged ankle

So…there are many different types of poultices, for many different purposes.  The one I’m focusing on today is the one made from activated charcoal.  It is used on many types of wounds and inflammatory conditions and infections.    If you have any type of skin itching, pain, insect sting/bite (including spider bites), swelling, infection under or on the skin,or  wound infection, a charcoal poultice may do wonders to help, since charcoal works by adsorbing (sort of like “soaking up” toxins).


Do your own research 

I do not believe in reinventing the wheel.  So much research has been done on the effectiveness of activated charcoal, that I would not be without it in our home.  I refer you to this website to learn all about charcoal and its many uses and advantages. There you will find the reasons why charcoal works, and why it’s good to try.

That said…we have used a charcoal poultice over and over in our home!  

Here are a few ways we’ve used our activated charcoal poultice!

    • Bug bites,  bee stings, spider bites (see my link above). Aids with pain and swelling

    • Any inflamed body area—really helps with swelling. 
    • Pain (charcoal poultices applied at regular intervals made a huge difference for my mom post-op knee surgery when she acquired MRSA—she was in a lot of pain, and when we removed each charcoal poultice, the pain increased, only to be relieved when the poultice was reapplied). 

    • Mouth and gum pain or infection—roll a piece of the poultice between the gums and cheek for oral pain, temporarily. 

    • Snake bites (thankfully we have not used this firsthand). 

One of my favorite go-to books to learn about hundreds of ways to use medicinal charcoal is Charcoal Remedies.com  (yes, it’s a book, despite the name)  You can get it on Amazon.com  


Simple Home Remedies

First aid kit

I can see many reasons to learn simple home remedies.  I can help my family with simple ailments if I educate myself, and hopefully, we all can help others as we learn.  

Of all of the home remedies, I believe that learning about the power of charcoal is one of the most important, because anyone can use it, you can even learn to make it (which I would like to do).  I hope that you do check out the above website (not mine, and I don’t have any affiliation with them; I simply go there to learn).

A Charcoal Poultice—Isn’t that what you make from that messy black stuff? 

Still, many people are hesitant to use charcoal topically, because it is so messy.  It’s messy to work with, mix up, and for many years, when I would make a poultice (flax based, which does work well, just messy), I would find that the black slimy substance had oozed to the sides of the dressing and made a big mess in the bed or on the clothing.  And charcoal does stain!!   I still believed in it, but for the mess, didn’t always reach for it with great joy.  :-/

A better charcoal poultice

But, recently, some friends of mine, who own a health food store, gave us a pre-made charcoal poultice.  We didn’t actually have a need for it at that time, but she told me to freeze it and it would keep nicely.  I put it into the freezer and pretty much forgot about it until I needed a poultice last week.  

I remembered the frozen one, and defrosted it, and I found that way that this poultice was made was SO NICE to use!  It was not messy at all–in fact, I could literally cut off pieces from the large poultice  appropriate to the area I needed to cover, and the poultice DID NOT STICK to the wound or the skin, which made it amazing to use.

So, I am sharing the method and recipe, and I hope that this will encourage someone who may have tried charcoal in the past, or someone who never even thought of using it, to give it a try.

A Neat Charcoal Poultice
The Method:

The two important ingredients can both be bought in bulk and kept on hand.  In a pinch you can use unflavored Metamucil.

MIX together carefully (so as not to puff it up in your face)

Then add slowly while slowly stirring:

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water

Mix until all of the liquid is absorbed and the mixture looks like a quivering ball of black goop. It will actually look like play dough, but will be more shiny and gel-like.

Not too sticky!!

If it is the correct consistency, when you knead it into a ball, not much of the mixture will stick to your hands at all. If it is too wet, it’s kind of tricky to get more powder to work into the ball, but it can be done if you’re patient and just keep kneading it like bread. (It would be better to add the water slowly and not add any more if the ball reaches the correct consistency before you’ve added all of the water)

Next, you place your ball on waxed paper or plastic wrap, cover with another layer, and roll it out like a pie crust. It should be about 1/4 inch thick or thicker so that it holds its shape. This will roll out to a large area, at least 12″x18″.

You may use the whole poultice as it is on a very large area (abdomen, back) or cut it into smaller pieces to fit your need.

Then you may roll it like a jelly roll with the waxed paper still on top, seal it into a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for a week, or place in the freezer to store longer.

A Clean Charcoal Poultice

This is a very clean poultice and can be peeled off when you are done with it. It really does not stick to the skin, doesn’t ooze, and is very handy.

Bandaged fingers

My notes–when I made the recipe above and took the pictures, I had a little help in measuring. Ours turned out a tad stickier than it should have; I attribute it to a generous measuring of the water. When I rolled it out, it still felt like it needed to be drier. And it left some residue on my hands. So, I added 1 T more of both charcoal and psyllium, and that did the trick.

In Summary

So, measure carefully, mix the powders well first, or the water will not all absorb, and check your consistency. It should be able to hold its shape when cut, and not flop around. It should be slightly moist on your hands but not leave them with gel.

You can kind of shape it somewhat (squish it into shape). I place the poultice directly onto the affected area, cover with plastic wrap, and if it’s a limb, wrap with an ace bandage.


Skip the black tattoo

If the skin is broken, you may place a thin piece of paper towel or cloth between the skin and the poultice to avoid the tatooing effect that charcoal sometimes leaves. However, I have found that with this recipe, the black residue is negligible; I do not think it would leave a tatoo, but it never hurts to take precautions.

Try it and see what you think!

PS–since I originally posted this, I have had many, many opportunities to use this recipe and share it. This may look a little complicated, but it really whips up very quickly.

Share, share, share!

If you already know about charcoal or if you’ve just learned about what a wonderful remedy it can be, don’t keep it to yourself!  Make sure you share what you’ve learned!!

If you know someone who is skeptical, just make a little batch and give it to them to keep until a need arises. You can cut the recipe to any size needed, by just retaining the ratio of one part charcoal, one part psyllium husk, and five parts water.

I’ve made tiny batches like with just 1 T of charcoal, and mixed it in a tiny little container to use with band aids and bug bites or little sores. 🙂

Here’s the process in photos. Obviously, we did these photos a few years back!

Mixing charcoal poultice
Carefully mix the powders and then slowly add warm water

Psyllium husk powder
You can buy the psyllium husk powder in bulk
Charcoal poultice
After combining all ingredients
Charcoal poultice making
If the mixture is too sticky, knead in more dry ingredients (combined first)
Rolling charcoal poultice
Get a pal to help you roll it out!


Clean charcoal poultice
When rolled out, the poultice feels a lot like play-dough
Charcoal poultice
Large rectangle of poultice
Rolling out charcoal poultice
Between wax paper!
It should not leave your hands all black!!
Storing  the charcoal poultice
Roll it up, seal in a ziplock, and freeze or store in fridge!

Easy Peasy!!  ? 

What do you think?  

Have you used charcoal as a remedy?  

If not…maybe today is the day to try!  

Got questions?

Leave me a comment!  No question is unimportant!  

8 Replies

    1. I would o of use the plain metrical if I could not find the psyllium husk powder, because it’s the same thing. It may have some other added ingredients, so I’d still prefer the straight powder.

What is your experience? 💜 I read every comment, and so many times I find that I gain encouragement from what’s shared. ❤️