Long time ago in ancient Egypt charcoal was used for “absolution of the body and soul from sin”.
A charcoal-based purification method was described by Hippocrates in his works in 40 BC.
Activated charcoal made of birchwood was used in medicine in Ancient Russia.
Ancient Romans used charcoal to purify drinking water, beer and wine.
Since the 18th century activated charcoal has been used as a powerful antidote which effectively binds poisons penetrating the gastrointestinal tract.
At the end of the 18th century scientists already knew that carbolene effectively adsorbs various gases, vapours and dissolved substances. People noticed that several charcoals placed into a pot in which they cooked their dinner adsorbed flavours and odours which remained after cooking.
In 1773 a German chemist Carl Scheele reported effectiveness of charcoal for adsorption gases. Later scientists found that charcoal also can discolour liquids.
In 1785 a pharmacist T.E. Lovits from Saint-Petersburg, who later became an academician, was the first to notice the ability of charcoal to purify alcohols. On the basis of findings he got in the process of multiple experiments, he explained that mere shaking of wine with charcoal powder added to it makes the wine much purer and improves its quality.
In 1794 charcoal was first used at a sugar refinery in England.
In 1808 in France charcoal was first used for clarification of sugar syrup.
In 1811 workers involved manufacturing black shoe polish found out the ability of bone char to discolor substances.
In 1830 a pharmacist who did a self-experiment took one gram of strychnine and survived as he took 15 grams of activated charcoal at the same time, which adsorbed the deadly poison.
In 1915 a Russian scientist Nikolay Zelinsky invented the first ever filtering carbon gas mask. In 1916 this invention was put to use by military forces of the Entente. Activated charcoal was used in the gas masks as the major adsorbing material.
Commercial enterprises started producing activated charcoal at the beginning of the 20th century.
The first lot of activated charcoal powder was produced in Europe in 1909.