Diatomaceous earth also known simply as D.E is a naturally occurring silica rich rock. It is formed from the fossilization of small sea organisms called diatoms. It appears as powder under the naked eye but is crystalline under a microscope.
This light colored and porous sidiment is made up of the siliceous shells of diatoms. These are aquatic plants, unicellular and microscopic in size.
The main component of this compound is silica. Silica is an essential element in the body that is linked to mineral absorption. However, silica hardly ever exists in its natural form. It reacts with oxygen forming silicon dioxide.
There are two forms of silica; it may either be amorphous, or treated under very high heat to make it crystalline. There are two different kinds of diatomaceous earth based on their use. Pool grade and food grade.
Uses Of Diatomaceous Earth
- Bug sensitive pesticides
- Diatomaceous earth strengthens bones, teeth and nails.
- Its abrasive nature makes it a useful addition in cleaning products
- A recent study on PubMed med shows that it is essential in the maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels in the body. It works by stimulating lipid metabolism and reducing blood cholesterol.
- Long term storage of grains and cereals.
- Silica in D.E contains anti-oxidant properties which slow down the process of aging maintain youthfulness.
Other uses for this light seemingly chalky powder in the industry, is a filter for clarifying sugars and sugars. Since it is natural, it has been used for all most all filtration applications, including non alcoholic beverages, oils and antibiotics since it’s not harmful for our bodies. A second major use for diatomaceous earth is for plastic, paint, soap and some detergents.
Products That Contain Diatomaceous Earth
- Most natural sea products contain traces of silica.
- Tooth pastes
- Water filters.
How It Works
There are two accepted theories of how diatomaceous earth works.
When diatomaceous earth comes into contact with an exoskeleton, it is heavily lodged into the joints of the insect. As the insect moves, the D.E particles rub against each other creating a friction which cuts it up
The second theory uses the abrasive nature of silica for its working. It states that, when sprinkled on the body of the bug, it scraps off the exoskeleton, this exposes the endoskeleton to the air causing dehydration and eventual death.
Benefits Of Using Diatomaceous Earth.
- Many communities believe that the addition of D.E to their soups and juices will enable them to live past the age of 100 years.
- It is nontoxic to humans when used to store cereals. Its effectiveness protects cereals for up to 10 years. The food and drug administration classifies diatomaceous earth as “generally safe”
- Farmers have in the past used diatomaceous earth to control parasitic worms in their livestock.
- There is absolutely no risk of resistance developing from excessive use of diatomaceous earth. This is because its anti-bug function is mainly physical.
- It is effective for a wide range of bugs including fleas, cockroaches and bedbugs.
Disadvantages Of Diatomaceous Earth.
- Pool grade diatomaceous earth may be carcinogenic. Pool grade silica is mainly of the crystalline type. When inhaled, it accumulates in the lung tissue and in the lymph nodes. This may eventually cause lung cancer. A recent study with mice showed that there is increased risk of cancer when the diatomaceous earth was inhaled rather than when it was fed.
- Diatomaceous earth exists in dust form. Constant inhalation is likely to cause anaphylactic reactions of sneezing and coughing in allergy sensitive individuals
- Excessive intake of diatomaceous earth causes bloating and constipation. This is however relieved by taking a lot of water and high fiber foods.
- External contact on skin may cause slight irritation and dryness.
What To Know When Using Diatomaceous Earth As A Pesticide
- The dust is not a form of bait and will not lure the bugs. It has to come in contact with the skin of the bugs in order for it to be effective.
- The effectives is based on the dust’s dryness. Any kind of wetness or moisture will render it useless.
- After the time stipulated by the manufacturer, the cereals may be used with no effects on human or livestock life.
Is Diatomaceous Earth Organic?
This is dependent on the manufacturing process. The initial rock is organic, but the addition and purification process may include non-organic products. Confirm the percentage of original D.E in a packet before you buy it.
What Is The Expiration Date?
As stated above, there is no expiry date for diatomaceous earth. Its effectiveness is dependent on its moisture content.
However its effectiveness has a limit and after a while it may be unable to absorb any more moisture.
Remember to also store it in an airtight bag in a cool and dry place.