Ask Buck

Charcoal for snakebites?

Does activated charcoal help remove venom from a snakebite? If so, should you put it directly on the wound or swallow it?


Could activated charcoal be part of a venomous-bite kit ? I’ve heard that cutting and sucking isn’t very effective at removing venom. Is this true? I wonder if cutting and putting a little charcoal in the wound would work. Or would drinking the charcoal be better?

Submitted by – Sam, Lansing, MI


Activated charcoal does work well (really well, sometimes) to adsorb (not absorb) ingested poisons from the gastrointestinal tract. But since there will be no snake venom in your GI tract, it would be useless to swallow charcoal. I have never heard of it being tested as an adsorbent for snakebite

wounds, but my guess is that it would be useless there as well. Venom near the surface of snakebite wounds is easily washed off. The venom that does the bad stuff is deep inside where the charcoal can’t reach. And, yes, cutting and sucking do NOT work.