It's black, it's gritty and downright disgusting to some. But charcoal in food is a hot health trend.
At I Love Juice Bar in Rock Hill, the hangover shot is made of coconut water, lemon, cayenne pepper and activated charcoal.
"There's a lot of shock and awe that comes with it. It's jet black," said Carolynn Dowd, the owner of I Love Juice Bar. "They will come and get a shot of it to help themselves feel better. Our shot is very hydrating, it's very detoxing."
Over in Lafayette Square, Clementine's Naughty and Nice Creamery is using activated charcoal as an ingredient in ice cream.
"We were the first in St. Louis to bring activated charcoal to food," said Tamara Keefe, the founder of Clementine's.
Activated charcoal in food is nothing like the charcoal on your grill. It's carbon, processed to have small pores that absorb the toxins in your body.
Both I love juice bar and clementines are using activated charcoal that comes from slowly burned coconut shells. But nutritionists aren't totally signing off on the inky trend.
"It's not a stand alone. It shouldn't be something that you turn to as a miracle pill," said nutritionist Amber Fischer. "For some people, it could be a good part of a balanced approach to health."
For some, activated charcoal has cut bad cholesterol, but knowing when to take it matters. Fischer says it's best to eat or drink it two hours before or after meals to avoid it from absorbing nutrients, and it may also affect some medications.
"If you do take any medications for your cholesterol, or for diabetes or birth control, it's possible it could bind to those things and reduce its absorptions in your body," she said.
Fischer says overall, activated charcoal is safe, and while it may help detox, it's not a cure all. And that's the dark truth.