Shungite & Fullerenes & Carbon 60 - Dammit Jim!
Shungite, Fullerenes & Carbon 60 for Dummies (and Those of Us Lacking Physics Degrees)
With the recent popularity of carbon 60 products in the marketplace, there is growing confusion about the relationship between carbon 60 (aka C60), fullerenes, and shungite. I get questions all the time, such as:
- Are C60 and shungite the same?
- Are the fullerenes in C60 the same as those in shungite?
- Is C60 made from shungite?
- If fullerenes are in both shungite and C60, then both of them must be natural - right?
- Do taking oral C60 supplements and drinking shungite water do the same thing?
Dammit Jim, I'm a geologist, not a doctor. Well, I am a geologist AND a nurse - but that's neither here nor there because they didn't teach us about shungite or fullerenes in geology or nursing school, so I have to learn about this stuff just like you.
In this article, I will try to answer these questions as simply as possible.
Are C60 (Carbon 60) and Shungite the Same Thing?
No, not even close. One is a rock, the other is a molecule.
Shungite is a carbon-based rock containing dozens of different elements and minerals within it. C60 is a molecule made up of 60 carbon atoms. Its shape is like a hollow cage in the form of a soccer ball, which is what gives it its unique properties of capturing materials and holding them inside - for example, free radicals.
Carbon 60 is created in a lab by vaporizing carbon (graphite, for example) with specialized equipment under highly controlled conditions. This vaporized carbon then forms new bonds in the soccer ball shape, thus creating C60.
Carbon 60 was first synthesized in a lab in 1985 before ever being found in nature, an achievement that earned the discovering scientist a Nobel prize. Years later the C60 molecule was found in Russian shungite.
This is why shungite is so special - it's the only mineral source of these fullerenes!
That is what has led some people to hypothesize about a an extraterrestrial origin for shungite - no one can explain how it formed. It has the same basic chemical composition as graphite, coal and diamond - eg, mostly carbon - but graphite, coal and diamond possess no fullerenes. How did they get into shungite?
Not All Fullerenes are Carbon 60
Fullerenes are the term for allotropic forms of carbon - cage-like hollow structures. These differ in their number of carbon atoms, which determines their shape. Some are football shaped, some are cylindrical (carbon nanotubes, aka Buckytubes), and others are spherical. The number of carbon atoms is revealed by the number shown with the "C" - for example, C60, C70, C80, and C90.
C60 is the most common fullerene. Because of its 60 carbon atoms, the fullerenes are symmetrical forming spheres that have earned the nickname "Buckyballs."
Molecularly, both shungite and C60 supplements contain C60 molecules, but they have vastly different origins. The fullerenes in shungite are naturally occurring whereas those in C60 supplements were synthesized in a lab.
Is Shungite Used to Make C60?
No. The vast quantity of carbon molecules in shungite are not fullerenes - in fact, they represent a very small percentage of the total. There is not enough shungite in the world to provide fullerenes for one supplement company - much less the entire nanotech industry!
Elite shungite (aka Type 1, Noble shungite, or silver shungite) contains more fullerenes than black shungite (Type 2).
I am not sure what common carbon sources are used by labs synthesizing C60, but I've read that graphite is one.
My Thoughts on Shungite Water vs C60 Supplements
I am certainly not an expert on carbon 60, but from what I gather, it's a subject of much controversy. Many report anecdotal benefits from taking it, whereas others caution about the risks, known and unknown, of ingesting nanotechnology into our bodies.
When it comes to comparing shungite water to C60 supplements, it's a no brainer for me. I always prefer the natural form of things.
Shungite water dates back hundreds of years to times of Peter the Great. Villagers who drank water from the stream that cut through the shungite outcrop experienced better health and faster healing than those with different water sources. Since that time, Russians and Europeans have been infusing their water with shungite and experiencing benefits without any downside.
That's a pretty darn good safety study, if you ask me.
I don't know enough about C60 to say much about its safety. I have read that the purity of the C60 matters a great deal, and how its made. Solvents are often used, which can leave a residue. The bad stuff in with the good stuff.
I don't know how to be sure a source is free of solvents, contaminants and other impurities. I am sure some are better than others.
I always err on the side of caution when it comes to these things because history has revealed, time and time again, that "we don't know what we don't know," often with dire consequences.
There you go, your basic primer on fullerenes, carbon 60, and shungite. Just be careful, use your head and employ a healthy dose of caution always.
And you won't be like - - - 😆