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Why is Black Ice black?

Black Ice is infused with activated charcoal, which is black. Black Ice works by combining the analgesic power of menthol with the power of activated charcoal to reduce inflammation--like ice! But you don't have to worry about the black staining. Black Ice is designed to leave no residue and just sticks and peels off. The activated charcoal in Black Ice is almost pure carbon and not like the briquettes you barbecue with or like the char on burnt toast. 


What's the History of Charcoal?

Charcoal has been used as a natural remedy since ancient times. Egyptian texts dating to 1500 BC document various medicinal uses for charcoal. Roman and Viking soldiers survived non-mortal wounds by packing their wounds after battle with charcoal. The Chinese write extensively about charcoal use in ancient medicinal texts. The Ancient Hindus used charcoal for water purification dating back to 400 BC. After the suppression of the sciences through the Dark Ages, charcoal reemerged in the 1700’s and 1800’s within the use of medical treatments and for industrial use - both for its adsorbent properties of fluid and gases and for its disinfectant properties. Some popular uses during this time period included poultices made from charcoal and bread crumbs (used by army and navy surgeons) as well as charcoal powders to alleviate fetid ulcers, acidity in the stomach, and even nosebleeds. By the 1900’s charcoal was starting to appear in lozenges, biscuits, and tooth powders! Activated charcoal was listed in the US Drug Pharmacopoeia until the 1950's when it was removed due to the many other options emerging at that time that were preferable to the simple, black remedy. It wasn't until the 1980's that activated charcoal was again introduced as a remedy for poison control and soon found its place in every ER and first responder vehicle due to the powerful way it works.  


How Does Activated Charcoal Work?

Over 4,000 chemicals, drugs, plant and microbial toxins, allergens, venoms, and wastes are effectively neutralized by activated charcoal, at least when it is administered in sufficient quantities. Activated charcoal has this effect as it is a special form of carbon that can bind other substances on its surface (adsorption).

Adsorption is a process in which atoms and molecules move from a bulk phase (such as a solid, liquid, or gas) onto a solid or liquid surface. As activated carbon (activated charcoal) is a crude form of graphite, the graphite structure gives it a very large surface area, which allows the carbon to adsorb a wide range of compounds. Activated charcoal actually has the strongest physical adsorption forces, or the highest volume of adsorbing porosity, of any material known to mankind. For a little bit of context here, 3 grams of activated charcoal can have the surface area of a football field, or a 50 gram dose can have the surface area of 10 football fields. This is due to activated charcoal’s surface area of 1000m²/g or greater.

If you’re really interested in the adsorption process, you have to understand London Dispersion Forces (yes, that is a real thing).

Adsorption is caused by London Dispersion Forces, a type of Van der Waals Force which exists between molecules. The force acts in a similar way to gravitational forces between planets.

London Dispersion Forces are extremely short ranged and therefore sensitive to the distance between the carbon surface and the adsorbate molecule. They are also additive, meaning the adsorption force is the sum of all interactions between all the atoms. The short range and additive nature of these forces results in activated carbon having the strongest physical adsorption forces of any material known to mankind.

These forces are what seem to cause an anti-inflammatory response when mixed with water (in our case hydrogel) and then applied to the skin. Ancient civilizations used charcoal in this way as well as Chinese medicine, naturopathic medicine and in many developing countries today. 



Why is "activated charcoal" a non-active ingredient?

We are required to follow the guidelines set by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which does not recognize charcoal as an active ingredient for pain relief. Charcoal is only recognized for poison control by the FDA. However, we include charcoal in our formulation because of how well it actually works for so many conditions. The word "activated" refers to the type of charcoal we use. When charcoal is "activated" it means it has been put through a steam process that generates super-porous charcoal particles. We use activated charcoal in our formula.


What's the difference between the menthol and eucalyptus version?

Menthol is the active ingredient for the medicated version of Black Ice, providing deep, cool pain relief. The eucalyptus version is non-medicated and simply has a hint of eucalyptus. The same amount of charcoal is contained in both. The eucalyptus version is best for people who want the detoxifying effects of charcoal in a patch without the cooling sensation of menthol. People who want strong pain relief should opt for the menthol version and those who want to use the patch for other uses (such as rashes or skin conditions) or want to use it on small children, should opt for the milder, eucalyptus version. However, the healing effects of charcoal can be experienced by either type of patch.


The patch is not sticking well. What can I do about it?

First, go to our "How-To" section of the website and watch the applicable video for how to best apply the patch. One video that is critical to watch is the one on how to use the Adhesive Patch.

Charcoal is extremely dry and even infused in hydrogel, tends to dry out the patch, which makes it less sticky. We've experimented with stickier formulations but then we get complaints of hair and skin coming off.

If you're having problems with the patch sticking, first make sure the area is clean and dry (remove all makeup, lotions, and optionally use an alcohol swab to wipe down the area). It's helpful to use tape, a sleeve, or clothing to keep the patch in place. Use medical tape, athletic tape, copper sleeve, tension bandage (ACE bandage), a sock, handkerchief or a medical sleeve to keep the patch securely in place. For the knee or elbow, it's helpful to use a copper type compression sleeve.


Can I cut the patch?

Black Ice can be cut or shaped into any size to better fit the problem area. Watch our "How-to" videos demonstrating various cuts to the patch. Some people like to pre-cut the patch (and tape) into four pieces per patch (for example) so that it can be readily available to use on mosquito bites or bee stings. 


I recently had knee surgery. Can I wear Black Ice under my brace?

Black Ice works well as a complementary therapy and can be worn under splints, removable casts, knee braces, compression sleeves, ice packs, arthritis gloves, tennis elbow straps, carpal tunnel braces, tendinitis supports, bursitis braces, hot water bottles, etc. In fact, Black Ice works best when secured under a therapeutic device like a brace. sleeve or even kineseology tape.


How long can I wear Black Ice for?

We recommend you keep the patch on as long as it's working for you. For pain relief, users have told us they can keep the patch on for 24 hours at a time but for detoxification or insect bites, we recommend changing the patch every 8 hours or more frequently if necessary.


Black Ice left a stain on my clothes. Will it come off?

Black Ice is designed to be residue free. In some cases though, if the hydrogel gets really hot and/or wet, you might get some black hydrogel residue on your clothing or skin. Black Ice will easily wash off your skin with warm water. On clothing, simply wash in a warm water cycle. Black Ice is non-toxic and is made of pharmaceutical and food grade materials and will easily wash off skin and clothing.