How to make a (neat) 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.

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

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).


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.   At that website you will find the reasons why charcoal works, and why it’s good to try.

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 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).

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.  :-/

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.

The Method:

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

  •  1/2 cup activated charcoal powder
  • 1/2 cup ground psyllium husk powder

Then add slowly while 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.  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, seal it into a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for a week, or place in the freezer to store longer.
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.
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.  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.  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!

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5 thoughts on “How to make a (neat) charcoal poultice

    • and PLEASE KNOW that the apple pie example is in no way a crack at food blogs–it’s just that I don’t feel like I need to add my own how to’s. no time or patience, but I’m glad for those who do!


    • Yes! Makes it much more user-friendly, as well as something you wouldn’t mind sharing with others. I believe we will all need to know simple treatments like this so we can help our families and others!


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