As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. See Full Disclosure Here
You may have heard of Diatomaceous Earth being used as a nontoxic pesticide, natural supplement, or both.
But what exactly is it and how is it formed?
What are its uses and benefits?
What is food-grade diatomaceous earth?
Here’s what you need to know about what is diatomaceous earth and its benefits and uses.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth, also known as DE, is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that is made up of fossilized diatoms, a type of single-celled aquatic algae.
The aquatic algae are called “diatoms” because they have a top and a bottom half, much like a capsule or container with a lid that can be opened. They look similar to a sea shell on the beach but are microscopic in size.
These diatoms have a hard outer shell made of silica, which is the same material that is found in glass.
DE is made up of the fossilized remains of diatoms that lived in freshwater or saltwater environments millions of years ago. Over time, these diatoms settled on the ocean floor and formed deposits of silica-rich sediment.
These deposits were then mined and processed into the fine powder that we know as diatomaceous earth.
How does Diatomaceous Earth Work?
After diatoms cease to live, their remains collect at the bottom of the ocean, in riverbeds, and in the soil in or near waterways.
The silica-rich shells or casings that are left behind do not decay. Because these shell-like remains are hollow inside, they draw moisture from their surroundings.
Even as a dried powder, DE continues to attract water, each tiny casing much like a cell with an intact wall. This makes it ideal for use in drying applications.
DE, which is the dried and powdered sediment of the fossils is also rich in silica. High-quality diatomaceous earth contains about 80%-90% silica. This is what gives this substance its many benefits.
The powdery substance is hard, relatively coarse, rich in silica, and highly absorbent, which makes it very versatile for a wide range of purposes, including filtration and drying applications.
Types of Diatomaceous Earth
There are several variants available, each of which can be used for different purposes. The different types are known as graded.
When buying diatomaceous earth, you must make sure you buy the right grade for the purpose you plan on using it for.
The three main types include:
Food Grade diatomaceous earth – Food grade DE is the purest form available. It is organic and considered safe for consumption. It is often used as a natural pesticide or to supplement the diet of animals.
Industrial Grade – Industrial grade DE, on the other hand, is not safe for consumption. It is used in applications such as filtration, and insulation, and as an abrasive in products like toothpaste and metal polishes.
Pest Control Grade: Pest control grade DE is a highly effective natural insecticide. It is naturally free of chemicals and works as an insecticide purely on the basis of its mechanical structure. When it comes in contact with any insect, it kills it by absorbing the moisture from the insect and dehydrating it.
Diatomaceous Earth Uses & Benefits
One of the unique properties of DE is its ability to absorb moisture and oils, making it useful in a variety of applications.
Moreover, it is a natural and non-toxic substance. Unlike many chemical pesticides and insecticides, DE does not harm the environment or pose a risk to human or animal health.
This makes it an ideal choice for those who are looking for a safe and natural alternative to chemical products.
How To Use Diatomaceous Earth for Pest Control
Diatomaceous earth is a highly effective pest control agent.
When insects come into contact with DE, the sharp edges of the diatom shells cut through their exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate and die. This makes DE an effective solution for controlling a wide range of pests, including ants, bed bugs, fleas, and ticks.
To use DE for pest control, simply sprinkle a thin layer of the powder in areas where insects are present or likely to be present. Make sure to reapply the powder after rain or watering, as moisture can reduce its effectiveness.
How To Use Diatomaceous Earth for Detoxification
When ingested in supplement form, DE eliminates heavy metals, parasites, and other toxins from the body.
DE supplements are safe and effective for those looking to improve their overall health and well-being.
To use DE for detoxification, take a food-grade diatomaceous earth supplement. As always, you must speak to your doctor first.
How To Use DE for Skincare
Diatomaceous earth has exfoliating properties. When applied to the skin, DE helps remove dead skin cells, leaving the skin looking and feeling smoother and more radiant.
To use DE for skin care, mix a small amount of food-grade diatomaceous earth with water or your favorite facial cleanser and gently massage it onto your skin. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.
DE also promotes healthier and stronger skin, hair, and nails. Its high silica content helps to strengthen connective tissues, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and giving hair and nails a sleek, smooth appearance.
How To Use Diatomaceous Earth for Gardening
DE is a popular soil amendment for gardening. When added to soil, it helps improve soil structure, aeration, and water retention. It also helps control pests and diseases, making it an ideal choice for organic gardeners.
To use DE for gardening, mix a small amount of food-grade diatomaceous earth into your soil or sprinkle a thin layer on top of the soil. Make sure to water your plants thoroughly after applying DE to help activate their pest control properties.
How To Use DE for Food Storage
Diatomaceous earth is also used in food storage to prevent spoilage and insect infestation. When added to grains, beans, and other dry foods, DE helps absorb excess moisture and create a dry environment that is inhospitable to insects.
To use DE for food storage, simply add a small amount of food-grade DE to your grains, beans, or other dry foods. Make sure to mix well to ensure that the DE is evenly distributed throughout the food.
How to Use DE as an Absorbent
DE is highly absorbent and can be used to soak up spills and eliminate odors. It can also be used as a natural deodorizer in refrigerators, trash cans, and other areas where bad smells are present.
Industrial Applications: DE is used in a variety of industrial applications, such as in the production of paints, plastics, and rubber products. It is also used as an abrasive in metal polishes and toothpaste.
Expand your knowledge of diatomaceous earth with these informative books:
Where to Buy Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is available for purchase at most garden centers and hardware stores. It can also be found online from a variety of retailers.
The best place to buy high-quality food-grade diatomaceous earth is Starwest Botanicals.
Starwest Botanical’s Food Grade DE is considered GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the FDA. It has not been treated with high heat and contains less than 1% of crystalline silica.
Its GRAS certification means this DE variety can be used in food processing as a filtration aid as a component of composite filtration media.
Learn more about Diatomaceous Earth-Food Grade available at Starwest Botanical.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Difference Between Industrial-Grade and Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth?
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe for human consumption, while the industrial-grade variety is used only for non-food purposes such as pest control, filtration, and industrial applications.
Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe?
While DE is generally safe for humans and animals, it is important to take some precautions when using it. Always wear a dust mask and gloves when handling DE to avoid inhaling the powder or getting it into your eyes, as it can cause irritation. Keep DE out of reach of children and pets as it can be toxic if inhaled or ingested in large amounts.
Can I Use DE in my Garden?
Yes, it is a popular soil amendment for gardening. When added to soil, it helps improve soil structure, aeration, and water retention.
Diatomaceous earth is a versatile substance that has a wide range of benefits and uses. From pest control to detoxification, skincare to gardening, and food storage to agriculture, DE is a natural and non-toxic alternative to chemical products.
If you are looking for a safe and natural alternative to chemical products, diatomaceous earth may be just what you need.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.