carbon element in the form of activated charcoal

5 Uses of Carbon in Everyday Life

Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the Universe. As the 15th most common element in the earth’s crust, it is mostly found in coal deposits. This simple element plays an important role in our everyday lives, and you might be surprised by just how many uses it has. Here we will briefly discuss the use of carbon in everyday life.

Organic and Inorganic Chemistry

Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry dedicated to the study of elemental carbon and its compound forms. It is extensively used within organic chemistry to form bonds between carbon atoms, resulting in long carbon chains such as proteins and hydrocarbons. As a very stable element, carbon can be combined with most other elements to form other useful compounds, including plastics, medicines, food additives, and detergents. There are three allotropes of carbon: diamond, graphite, and fullerenes. Allotropes are forms of the same chemical element with different physical forms. Carbon is also an incredibly important element in inorganic chemistry. In inorganic chemistry, carbon is used as a component of alloys like carbon steel which are widely used in the construction and manufacturing industries. Carbon truly has wide-spanning uses which makes it one of the most integral elements of a variety of chemical processes. 

Activated Carbon

When carbon is treated with oxygen, it becomes highly porous and is called activated carbon. It can then be used in chemical purification processes. Activated carbon can also be made using coconut husks and a chemical process using phosphoric acid.

Once it is activated, it can be used in things like water filters, food and beverage processing, pollution control, and gas and liquid purification. Activated charcoal is also used in the medical industry as a toxin-removal agent and in some detoxification health drinks.

Carbon in Pigment

Carbon black is a powder used to pigment many things, including mascara and eyeliner, printer ink, and paints. Carbon black is used to produce paints with both conductive and non-conductive properties and greater UV stability. Carbon black is made through the incomplete combustion of several different raw products, including coal, vegetable matter, and petroleum products.


Graphite is a compound made up of many stacked layers of graphene and is the most stable form of carbon. It is naturally occurring but can also be produced synthetically. Pencil lead is what most people think of when they hear graphite. However, it is used in batteries, lamps, lubricants, polishes, and even in the cores of nuclear reactors.

Graphite-Moderated Nuclear Reactors

In a graphite-moderated nuclear reactor, carbon is used in the form of graphite blocks to reduce the speed of neutrons. This neutron moderation sustains the nuclear reaction and allows uranium in its natural state to be used. Graphite blocks also play a pivotal role in safety. Carbon dioxide gas flows through the graphite blocks to remove heat from the reactor. The control rods used to shut down the reactor are also housed in the graphite blocks.

These are just some of the many uses of carbon in everyday life. Many industries rely on carbon compounds to produce their products. At Noah Chemicals, we have the carbon products you need for your business. Call us at (888) 291-1186 or fill out our form here to request a quote. To learn more about our chemical offerings and to schedule a consultation with our Chemicals Services team for a custom formulation, please contact us here.

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