Does alcohol absorb to activated charcoal?

Hum Toxicol. 1986 May;5(3):211-2. doi: 10.1177/096032718600500311.


Activated charcoal seldom is used in pure-alcohol poisoning since it is absorbed rapidly from the gut. Furthermore in early reports activated charcoal was found to adsorb alcohol poorly. However, in 1981 North et al. [North, D. S., Thompson, J. D. & Peterson, C. D. (1981). Am. J. Hosp. Pharm., 38, 864-866] demonstrated in dogs that charcoal given at the same time as alcohol can reduce the blood alcohol concentration significantly. To study whether charcoal is of value in a clinical situation, a randomized cross-over study in two phases was conducted. Each person drank 88 g of alcohol and 30 min after either 20 g of activated charcoal was taken or the same volume of water was drunk. There were no significant differences in plasma alcohol concentrations with or without charcoal.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Adult
  • Charcoal*
  • Ethanol / blood*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Random Allocation


  • Charcoal
  • Ethanol