The term ‘diatomaceous earth’ (pronounced dahy-uh-tuh-MEH-shuhs) sounds like something you might have come across in a geography book. Well, you’re not completely wrong. Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that has a number of health benefits and uses in daily life.
Chances are, it’s probably an ingredient that’s already present in some of the products you use from insect killers to pet products, skin care products, paints, medicines, and even food.
Before we get down to the uses you can get out of this nifty substance and give you some diatomaceous earth reviews, let’s go over some basics.
Table of Contents
- What is Diatomaceous Earth?
- What Are Some Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth for the Body?
- Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe to Use?
- 13 Handy Diatomaceous Earth Uses
- Diatomaceous for the Body
- Diatomaceous for the Home
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth is made from diatoms – naturally occurring algae (aquatic substance) that is found in the sediments near water bodies around the world such as oceans and lakes. An 80-90% concentration of silica makes diatomaceous earth a popular raw ingredient that has many commercial and industrial uses.
There are three forms of diatomaceous earth;
- Granulated: This is the rawest form of diatomaceous earth that is made by crushing the rocks into an abrasive powder that is white to off-white in color
- Finely Milled: This is a very thin form of diatomaceous earth that is used in the production of pesticides and insecticides.
- Heat treated: This is the form that goes through treatment at temperatures above 212 degrees Fahrenheit to harden the exoskeletons in the substance and convert the amorphous silica into crystalline silica.
You can further divide these into two types: food grade and filter grade. The main difference between these two is the concentration of crystalline silica. Large doses of this type of silica can be harmful to humans; therefore, cannot be ingested.
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
This is listed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as “generally recognized as safe.” The concentration of crystalline silica is at 0.5-2%. This substance is commonly used in products from the food or agriculture industries.
Filter Grade Diatomaceous Earth
This is the diatomaceous earth variety used in commercial products. It has 60% or higher concentration of crystalline silica. It’s widely used as insecticides to kill a whole host of pests from fleas and spiders to bed bugs and cockroaches.
What Are Some Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth for the Body?
With the safety concerns out of the way, we can finally turn our attention to the benefits that diatomaceous earth can provide. Many tall claims have been made about how good it is for you. These include, but are not limited to the following:
Detoxification of the Body
Diatomaceous earth is said to be a detoxifying agent because of the antioxidant quality of silica. This is broken down into a colloidal form which neutralizes the effect of free radicals in the body and removes them from the body. Diatomaceous earth can also have an alkalizing effect on your body that
Because of its detoxifying effects, diatomaceous earth can help clear your digestive tract of waste and toxins as well as help with diseases such as intestinal worms. Better gut health will mean less bad bacteria that can be the cause for painful bloating, excessive gas and general discomfort.
Lowered Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels
In a study conducted over 12 weeks, nineteen patients were monitored every other week to measure their cholesterol levels while on a dosage of 250mg of diatomaceous earth thrice a day. By the end of the study, results showed that diatomaceous earth had a significant effect on reducing the levels of cholesterol and triglyceride in their blood.
Improved Bone Health
Dietary silicon can have a great effect on bone mineral density according to studies. The silica present in diatomaceous earth, therefore, may have a positive effect on bone mass, connective tissue, and bone mineral density. It may even help in the prevention of bone-related diseases such as osteoporosis.
Stronger Immune System
The effects of diatomaceous earth on helping fight diseases in poultry animals suggests that it has the potential to help with the production of antibodies that are a sign of a healthy immune system. These antibodies then help fight off illnesses and keep you on top of your health.
Better Looking Skin
Due to the antioxidant properties of diatomaceous earth, it helps release your body of free radicals that have a great anti-aging effect on your skin. It also dries out toxins on your skin and leaves it smoother and healthier than before.
Better Nail and Hair Health
The silica in diatomaceous earth can help restore luster to your hair and nails and help prevent fungal infections.
Despite these claimed benefits, there still isn’t enough concrete research on diatomaceous earth on its own at the moment to substantially back any claims made about it. Most of the benefits that are claimed to be associated with the substance are due to the presence of silica which, coincidentally, is also the substance that is cited as the cause for possible side effects and safety concerns.
However, this does not mean that diatomaceous earth is completely devoid of benefits. It has many uses and is very effective at helping in things such as pest control around the house (more on that later).
Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe to Use?
There’s been some debate around the question of diatomaceous earth health risks because of the high concentration of crystalline silica in some forms of diatomaceous earth.
Crystalline silica can be toxic to humans and animals when it is ingested or inhaled. It can also lead to a form of lung disease called silicosis and other lung-related health issues including lung cancer. So if you’re using the powder as part of your house cleaning to rid yourself of pests and insects, you may be putting yourself in harm’s way without realizing it!
There has also been discussion around the topic of how ingesting diatomaceous earth can suffocate the intestinal tract and stop the absorption of vitamins and minerals in your body. This can lead to some frightening deficiencies in your body which will have an adverse reaction on your health.
It’s also claimed that using diatomaceous earth directly on your skin can also lead to wounds or loss of parts of the skin.
However, there isn’t nearly enough research to fully conclude whether diatomaceous earth is completely safe or not. Here are some precautions you can take when using diatomaceous earth;
- Try and use food-grade diatomaceous earth. This is generally considered to be safer in comparison to filter grade. This is because food grade diatomaceous earth will pass through your digestive system without entering your bloodstream
However, you should bear in mind that if you are taking diatomaceous as a food supplement, it is not required to be regulated by the FDA and therefore you will not have any guarantee about how safe or effective it will be for you.
- Check with a professional about the required dosage you should be taking if you plan on ingesting it and follow proper guidelines when using it in any form.
- Dilute your dosage of diatomaceous earth while ingesting and give yourself breaks between ingestion to keep your body from getting too overwhelmed
- If using the powdered form, such as to fight infestations, make sure to wear dust masks to protect yourself from inhaling harmful amounts of the substance.
13 Handy Diatomaceous Earth Uses
Diatomaceous earth is used in a whole host of products, from industrial grade to food grade to insecticide formulation. There are about 150 products that are registered for use with diatomaceous earth and this doesn’t include the products made at home with DIY solutions.
Some of the uses for diatomaceous earth are listed below.
Diatomaceous for the Body
1. As a Supplement
We’ve already talked about the benefits of diatomaceous earth for your health. So, if you plan to take the substance as a dietary supplement, then there are two ways to go about it.
You obviously want to begin with food-grade diatomaceous earth. You can have this first thing in the morning, half an hour before your meal (much like taking apple cider vinegar) or you can have it after at least three hours of eating.
2. As an Exfoliator
The texture of diatomaceous earth makes it an excellent choice for a gentle facial scrub or mask. Much like bentonite clay, it helps to make your skin feel and look softer and clearer. You can make a paste by mixing diatomaceous earth with liquids like water, milk, honey or aloe vera. Leave the paste on your skin for a minute or two before washing off.
3. As a Toothpaste
If you want to give your teeth a nice, deep cleansing, you can add some diatomaceous earth on your toothpaste. This will help with removing stubborn stains due to the abrasive texture of the powder. However, it should only be done sparingly.
4. As a Deodorant
Deodorant is essentially meant for two purposes – to neutralize odors and to act as an antiperspirant. However, our body’s ability to sweat is important for our overall health which is why a natural alternative to commercial antiperspirant deodorants is a great option. Due to its odor neutralizing properties, diatomaceous earth can act as a great at-home deodorant.
5. Head Lice Treatment
Ditch the harmful chemical shampoos and use diatomaceous earth for an easy, at-home head lice treatment. Diatomaceous earth works to kill lice quite the same way it works to kills any insect – by drying them out. You can mix some diatomaceous earth powder with essential oils and witch hazel to create a quick, natural lice treatment spray that works!
Diatomaceous for the Home
1. To Treat Fleas on Pets
Food grade diatomaceous earth is a safe and natural solution to treat fleas on pets. It has the ability to dry out and kill the fleas by puncturing their outer shell or exoskeleton. The treatments should not just be restricted to physically using it on your pet; you should also treat the areas surrounding your pet to ensure the fleas don’t come back!
2. Bed Bug Treatment
While diatomaceous earth on its own may not be enough to treat a massive bed bug infestation, it is a great ingredient to help fight and prevent the little critters from invading your home. It is best combined with some form of heat treatment.
3. Home Insect Repellent
Sometimes there are so many tiny insects creeping around our house, we have no idea how to get rid of them! In order to get rid of or repel future insects, clean out your house thoroughly including rugs, carpets, and areas you think bugs may have made their home.
Once the areas are clean, rub some diatomaceous earth powder all over in a thin layer and let it sit for roughly 12 hours. After that, brush or vacuum it away, and you will have yourself an insect free home!
4. Odor Neutralizer
Diatomaceous earth has odor neutralizing properties which makes it a great choice to place in areas that may have strong odors such as trash cans, bathrooms, or fridges.
5. As a Worming Medicine
A diluted version of diatomaceous earth can be used as an effective worming medication for animals on farms.
6. Fly Control
Diatomaceous earth can reduce the number of flies around your home, garden, or farm by drying out their eggs and preventing the growth of their maggots. This can be a good alternative to other organic methods of fly control such as buying predator wasps.
7. Garden Pest Control
You can sprinkle diatomaceous earth beneath your plants in the dry months to kill slugs that would have otherwise harmed your plants. A wet solution of diatomaceous earth can also contain beetles and cutworms.
However, you should be careful not to go too overboard with the pest control as some bugs are actually good for your garden and the environment.
8. Swimming Pool Filter
Instead of spending precious time and money on cleaning and maintaining your pool, you can use diatomaceous earth as an alternative. It can help filter water and leave it completely crystal clear without clumping out in your pool.
9. Oil Stain Removal
Oil stains can be tough to remove because they’re so stubborn. The good news is that diatomaceous earth is a great way to remove the oil due to its absorbent qualities. You can simply sprinkle some powder onto the stain and watch it suck up all the oil.