Best Way to Remove Cat Litter Smell using Activated Charcoal

The smell coming from litter boxes are a prevalent and unpleased experience that every cat owner will experience. It does not matter how much you will clean your litter boxes. The ammonia smell will remain. Therefore, I’m pretty sure that all of you will like to know the best way to remove cat litter smell from your cat’s litter boxes. The answer comes with the activated charcoal or else activated carbon.  

Removing bad odor from cat litter is not a new problem. It has been there for a quite long time, and there are few solutions available in the market. 

These solutions can be named as deodorizers, baking soda method, charcoal (not the activated versions), perfumes and enzymes to break the ammonia into non-smell molecules.

All of these methods have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Premium level deodorizers are pretty good for fast action. However, the effect does not last for long term, and sometimes there are some deodorizers with harmful chemicals.

The baking soda method is a cheap DIY type method. It will absorb cat urine odor. But not that much effective. You may need to find a baking soda type without any scent in it. Otherwise you home will fill with baking soda smell.

Charcoals (not the activated type) are used too. Since there are not activated, the effectiveness is pretty much low.

Enzymes based chemicals are another practice to remove cat litter smell. There are some premium brands which offer good products. However, they all lack long term stability. You will need to use them consistently and need to be careful to choose one with safe chemicals.

Why activated charcoal is different from other cat odor removal methods?

Activated charcoal is typically made from the coconut shells. Sometimes bamboo and coal used to make activated charcoal. There are two ways to make activated charcoals. Chemical activation and physical activation.

Since the activation process contains some technical information, I’ll not try to go deep into them. Anyway, I’ll explain what will happen to the charcoal when there are activated.

During the activation process, very small, I mean micro to nano-level surface pores tend to create around the charcoal pieces. Millions of these pores will form and it will increase the surface area of the charcoal.

Now, these activated charcoal has tiny pores around them, and these pores can absorb any kind of odor from the surface atmosphere. When the pores become micro to nano, then the absorbance properties will increase rapidly due to the increased active surface area.

This phenomenon widely used in nanotechnology applications. Hence, activated charcoal is considered a very famous industrial filter material for odor removal, water filtering, and heavy metal trapping.

Due to the above mentioned properties, activated charcoal has a technologically advanced advantage ahead from other odor removal methods. The best part is there are environmentally friendly, safe and cheap.

The Best activated carbon/charcoal based cat litter product

Fresh Step Ultra Unscented Litter product that I have found in the amazon contain activated charcoal as one of its main ingredients. This product is very useful for cat litter odor/smell removal, and I can recommend it without any hassle.

How does activated charcoal absorb the smell of cat litter?

Carbon is the primary building block of charcoal. Typically, charcoal consists small microscopic holes (pores) on its surface. These pores can trap molecules from gases, liquid, or even solids.

This process or else phenomenon, is called adsorption.

When these charcoal become activated, the number of pores will increase significantly. Further, their size will become smaller. It is said that one pound of activated charcoal has a surface area of 75 football fields.

So, that means activated charcoal has millions of odor trapping pores available to react, and they will effectively catch a significant amount of odor/smell.

One more thing, activated charcoal can absorb not only your cat litter smell but any kind of bad odor in your room. So these materials will work like a charm to remove any bad smell in your room too.

Activated Charcoal for cat litter odor

Is activated charcoal in litter safe for cats?

Activated charcoal is a safe earth abandable material. It does not contain any kind of harmful chemical within it. So it will be safe for your cat or kitten.

What do you need to look for when buying an activated carbon/charcoal based product?

What is the raw material of activated charcoal?

Usually, activated charcoal makes from coconut, bamboo, and coal. Depend on their raw material, the resultant activated charcoal properties can vary.

So, for best odor removal, you need to go for coconut or bamboo based activated charcoal.

Powder type or piece type?

Even though powder type activated charcoal has more surface area, it will cause a big problem when handling them. Charcoal powder can go everywhere in your house. Their black color dust can sit around every item in your home.

Hence, if you are going to buy an activated charcoal pack, my advice is to go for small pieces’ type activated charcoals to remove cat litter odor.

Further, when using your activated charcoal only products to remove cat litter smell, make sure to keep them near your cat litter box. Providing a method to expose the maximum surface area to outer atmosphere will effectively work.

Final Thoughts

One of the best ways to remove cat litter smell is using activated charcoal. It is an environmentally friendly and non-toxic method. Further, there are safe for your cat and cheap to use. Their long-lasting effects can reduce your daily pet tasks up to a considerable level.


  • How to Use Activated Charcoal Odor Neutralizers,
  • Everything You Need to Know About Activated Charcoal,

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Amelia Kteylor

Amelia Kteylor, DVM, attended the University of Georgia. She is a cat expert with 20 years of experiences in field. She has a passion as a writer and editor for pet publishing industry too. Amelia contributes to numerous pet magazines in the areas of pet health and groom. Further, she volunteered in cat rescue centers in her leisure time.

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