Activated carbon, or charcoal, is a material produced from carbon-rich materials such as coal, wood, and nutshells. The carbon medium gets activated by exposure to steam and high heat without oxygen. This process opens up millions of pores between carbon atoms. The large network of pores in activated carbon provides an exceptionally large surface area. For example, a pound of carbon has over 35 acres, or almost 100 football fields, of surface area. The highly porous surface area adsorbs contaminants from gases or liquids. After the carbon is activated, it then gets crushed or pulverized. This process creates more particles with a greater outside surface to remove more contaminants.