Carbon By Any Other Name Would Smell As Neutral

Ultrahouse: Say, it’s a bit stuffy in here…and I know a certain someone who really fancies lilac.
Marge: Oooh, that really covers the cat crap!

– The Simpsons

The Kev and I both noticed a bit of online buzz around the idea of fancy, Asian-themed charcoal air fresheners.

I’m not a chemist, but I’m pretty sure the important thing about these is the “activated charcoal” part, and not that the charcoal originally came from bamboo. The bamboo part just makes it seem fancy. And exotic, if you aren’t from a place with bamboo. Anyhoo, if I understand it right, activated charcoal is just charcoal carbon processed so that it has an enormous number of tiny holes. The bigger resulting surface area helps trap pollutants.

Say hello to my little friend.

My getting goat (via).

So if you just need activated carbon and a fabric pouch … why are these sold for as much as $20? Even with shipping and other overhead, that seems kind of excessive. Basically, you’re paying a premium for a simple thing tarted up.

If there’s anything that gets my goat, takes it on a date and gets fresh with it before ditching it at the diner (the goat, I’m still talking about), it’s pretentious marketing. I decided to see how cheap I could make the same thing.

I picked up a big ole box (over half a kilo) of activated carbon from the aquarium section of the pet shop. EIGHT BUCKS.

api Then I grabbed some fabric scraps I had on hand. (I was meant to be working on bedroom curtains, so the sewing machine was already out. Curtains still not done, by the way. This was far quicker and easier.) Let’s say this 1/8 of a yard piece was worth $2, including the thread and bits of ribbon I used. I ran up three quick baggies of various sizes. (If you don’t have a sewing machine, a spare sock would do the same job! Also, it’s something to do with spare socks.)

Both from the same fabric -- used the reverse side on one.

Both from the same fabric — used the reverse side.

Just in case I wasn’t having enough fun stalling on curtain-making, I broke out the gold acrylic paint to amuse myself further.

kanji

That’s the kanji for “marketing” (according to one source, at least). Marketers know: put random kanji on anything in the west, and it looks cooooool. (Apologies if you read Japanese, because my illiterate rendering probably looks pretty awful!)

Once I had the bags done and imprinted with silliness, they were easy to fill — the huge box of activated charcoal has a built in funnel! After filling, I tied or sewed them up.

Here’s my whole nascent (or should that be “no-scent”??) fake product range:

bags done

I deployed my bags of silliness in the house (product testing!).

bag on door

By the time I got to this point, it was all for the sake of my continued internal joke. (I won’t even say it was an “inside” joke, because the Kev observed all this with some perplexity — curtains, remember?) BUT GUESS WHAT?

They totally work!

I reckon I could make five to seven bags from that container of charcoal and a little more fabric, so something like $2/bag to make these. Less if you use a mismatched sock! And if you are feeling silly, you can look up your own kanji to make them all zen. I wonder what the kanji is for “goat.”

Update! Over a year later, this concept still works well, BUT if you are going to hang one like I did on the doorknob, please check out this post about how to avoid charcoal dust marks.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
This entry was posted in Decor, Repair & Maintenance and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Carbon By Any Other Name Would Smell As Neutral

  1. The stitching reminds me of my chicken scratches back in elementary (6 years of saturday Chinese language school here). What a thrifty idea!

  2. Stacey says:

    Thanks! Wow, six years of school on Saturday — I bet your Chinese is PERFECT!

  3. Joyce says:

    totally making this! thanks for figuring this out and posting your tutorial!

  4. Jolene says:

    How long do these last? Do you need to switch out the charcoal periodically?

    • Stacey says:

      Hi, Jolene — I started to notice that they were not as good after about six or seven months, but they still had some effect. The aquarium charcoal comes in a big container, so I need to refill them, but I haven’t got around to it yet (crazy around here with the remodel). I read somewhere that you could put this sort of thing in strong sun for a few hours and that would refresh them, but I haven’t tried it. Thanks for asking!

  5. Tiffany Kwan says:

    I don’t know if there is a Daiso near you, but I’ve seen them selling the charcoal air fresheners just in thin paper filter bags (not in a nice cloth bag) for like $1.50 (pack of two 100g). I think the paper filter bags help keep in the charcoal dust. But you can also easily make a pretty bag to put the filter bag in. The instructions for the charcoal air freshener I have says to put in the sun every 90 days for up to 2 years.

  6. Tracy says:

    It isn’t possible for me to be more pleased than I am right now to have found your website and this DIY (GAWD, I love Pinterest!)…I felt the same as you after seeing these pop up all over the place and the exorbitant prices they were selling for. So…I bought my own lil’ bag of charcoal with a credit I have left over from a return on Amazon – (unfortunately, I thought “bamboo charcoal” was the answer, so I spent $9 on a 4 oz. bag…) and I am about to embark on making my own car deodorizer pouch (I’m a gross cigarette smoker), and am so happy to hear that yours turned out so well, and if these do the trick, I may just go for the regular fish supply stuff and make more! Thank you SO much for sharing your experience here! 🙂

    • Stacey says:

      Tracy, thanks for the fun comment! Stop back and let me know how it works out for you. (And smoke ’em if you feel like smoking — no judgment here!)

  7. Sijia Zhang says:

    What fabric did you use for this, and what kind of fabric would you recommend fabric pouches to be made of if I buy one online? If you use old socks, how would you seal it? And if possible, could you add a picture of what it looks like when you put it in old socks instead? Please help, I’m really confused.

  8. Robert Weinstein says:

    Instead of fabric

    Suggest to use a 1 gallon nylon paint filter bag Home Depot

    Fill with RINSED first and dried aquarium charcoal (cuts the dust )

    Place inside of bag and zip tie it.

    Place bag hanging in the room of of choice or for HVAC attach to the back
    of the Air filter on the inside of the duct.

    Bazinga! easy cheesy

    Robert

    • Stacey says:

      Brilliant! Rinsing = great idea. Filter bag = great idea. Thanks, Robert!

      • roberthweinstein says:

        Taking this to another step you could use a smaller nylon paint filter bag or cut it down and fill it with the activated charcoal for aquarium filters and add it to your pet’s water dish AZ activated charcoal is totally non toxic

        Activated charcoal is actually made by carbonizing coconut fiber

        I use it in my pet’s water fountain my cat

        , it absorbs fluoride and chlorine and bad taste just saying

  9. AMY CHAUNG says:

    Can I use organza bags for this project?

    • Stacey says:

      You mean like the jewelry bags? I think those would let a lot of coal dust through, but if you bagged it and then placed the bag on a saucer or something, that might work!

  10. NormaJean says:

    I need these pouches for a home my son just purchased. I had a terrible reaction to the chemicals in the house- flu like symptoms. Miserable!

    • Stacey says:

      Wow! Hope he is able to air out the place. I don’t know if these would stop any allergic reaction to chemicals in the house, but they wouldn’t hurt. (I’d probably take an air cleaner with me every time I went to visit! I’m not subtle, ha!)

  11. Dave says:

    Definitely need to try this; I’ve got plenty of extra socks. Thanks for the idea!

  12. LJay says:

    Can I use the (crushed) charcoal used for grilling? Has anyone tried it?

    • Stacey says:

      I have no idea, but I bet someone has. It would be pretty expensive compared to buying normal-sized charcoal, though!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *