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Explainer: What is Activated Carbon?

What does a lead pencil, a diamond ring and your Quilo 3in1 have in common?

They all include one of the most marvelous elements of our universe: Carbon. In one atomic configuration, carbon becomes soft, flaky graphite–the grey stuff in your pencil. In another atomic structure, it becomes diamond, one of the hardest materials in the world. When carbon is treated with oxygen, it morphs into activated carbon–and this is the purifying capability inside your Quilo’s air filter.

Activated carbon is a charcoal that is treated with oxygen. This chemical reaction opens up millions of tiny pores between the carbon atoms. In fact, there are so many nooks and crannies within these carbon atoms that if you were to unravel its surface area onto one flat plane, then a spoonful of activated carbon could stretch out across the surface area of a soccer field!

With this tremendous storage capacity, activated carbon is a powerhouse at trapping specific chemicals and contaminants. Here’s how it works. Because activated carbon is so incredibly porous, air or water can easily flow through its structures. However, while it does so, the myriad, teeny, cracks and crevices literally trap microscopic particles and large organic molecules. Smaller organic molecules which are too tiny to be trapped, instead adsorb and cling to the surfaces, almost like a magnetic attraction. The more activated carbon in your filter, the more contaminants it can adsorb, but eventually, active carbon filters will become filled and will need to be replaced.

Activated carbon is stellar at trapping the molecules that cause odors as well as toxic fumes or pollution, removing as much as 80% of harmful VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) in your atmosphere. Do you have a neighbor who smokes? Did dinner overcook and burn again? Suffer from allergies or asthma? Are there fumes or chemical gas in your atmosphere? If so, a fan with an activated carbon filter can work some elemental magic for you.

About the Author
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Dena
With a Master degree in Communication, Dena believes that communication can cure society of all its ills. Based in Pittsburgh, she oversees all these written words, digital content and consumer engagement–and when not ensuring world peace through her work for Quilo, can be found out-and-about with her four daughters.

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