omg I drank charcoal!
January 9, 2008 9:04 PM   Subscribe

my brita filter leaves little bits of charcoal in the filtered water. are these harmful in any way?

I followed all the instructions, I think. I soaked the filter and have gone through 5 or so pitchers and am still seeing the black charcoal bits. hive mind: please help! will these hurt me, or just gross me out?
posted by negative1 to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sometimes there appears to be black dust in the filtered water when I install a new Filter. What is this?

Although the cartridges are packed wet they can occasionally dry out during storage and transportation. Abrasion may occur and a fine carbon dust can form which is washed out during the first two fills. This water is safe but unatractive, therefore we recommend that the water from the first two fills be discarded or used to water flowers and plants etc
posted by aubilenon at 9:09 PM on January 9, 2008

I offer this as nothing more than an anecdote, but I still have bits of charcoal in the top half of my Brita filter after two months with it, I assume it's because I got a filter that was loosely packed, the water still tastes filtered (ie less chlorine taste than straight NYC tap water, anyone else noticed the chlorine taste has gone up in the last year? I used to be a jug of water in the fridge dude and now I'm really glad I have the filter), there are no bits of charcoal in the filtered part and I'm going to get my next filter from a different store, as long as there are no bits in the filtered half of the pitcher I don't have a problem with it.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:18 PM on January 9, 2008

Point being, if you have charcoal bits in the lower half of the pitcher, maybe you didn't install the filter correctly or maybe you have one that has a leak somewhere around where the filter part is, otherwise I think that's just the way it shakes out, I mean, if there are charcoal bits in the top part, well, you're straining all the water you drink through 4 or 5 inches of charcoal anyway.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:22 PM on January 9, 2008

I have noticed no change in the NYC water in the last 2 years.
posted by Mikey-San at 9:23 PM on January 9, 2008

IANAD or a scientist, but when I worked in the emergency room we put activated charcoal in people's stomachs when they ODed to absorb the drugs. I'm assuming tiny bits wouldn't hurt you.
posted by sharkfu at 9:27 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm talking about like the last 5 to 10 years, but I admit that is could just be my tastebuds changing over time .
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:28 PM on January 9, 2008

that could, dammit, sorry too much charcoal today.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:30 PM on January 9, 2008

It's cool, negative1. It's all part of the Brita experience.
posted by mumkin at 9:44 PM on January 9, 2008

Part of the problem is that you may be filling the container with water rushing against the filter itself. Apparently this makes the charcoal come out. But the charcoal won't hurt you at all.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:51 PM on January 9, 2008

It says in the Brita manual that this is not a problem....

posted by outsider at 9:57 PM on January 9, 2008

sharkfu is right. Having had to ingest activated charcoal I can vouch for it not causing direct harm. Now the Citrus of Magnesium that I had to ingest in order to get the charcoal out... that wasn't fun.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:27 PM on January 9, 2008

No, a little charcoal won't hurt you. Large quantities of the stuff can be unpleasant, but it's certainly not poisonous or anything (quite the opposite). If it doesn't bug you, I'd just go ahead and drink it. I ignore the occasional flecks that come out of mine, and I'm still here.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:12 PM on January 9, 2008

posted by sourwookie at 1:32 AM on January 10, 2008

I know a Russian girl that swallows a handful of charcoal pills before a hard night of drinking. She swears that it prevents hangovers. You should be fine with your Brita. (I, however, was still hungover the next day)
posted by idiotfactory at 10:28 AM on January 10, 2008

Activated charcoal capsules are the first thing I take if I feel I might've eaten something iffy or am coming down with a stomach bug. They're good stuff. Those bits are no danger to you.
posted by Riverine at 6:22 PM on January 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

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