What Is Diatomaceous Earth, Anyway?
DE is a white powder that comes from diatom fossils. Diatoms are a type of algae that is found in river beds and lake beds. The diatoms have a very hard shell made of silica that is shaped like a tube.
When dry, Diatomaceous Earth appears very fine and soft to the naked eye but microscopically it has some very unique qualities:
- High Silica Content: These fossilized diatoms have a very high silica content (which is used to build hair, skin, and nails).
- Hard as Nails … or Diamonds: DE is very hard (only two points lower than diamonds on the hardness scale). It looks like a tiny cylindrical tube with many holes in it when viewed through a microscope.
- Holds a Strong Negative Charge: DE has a very strong negative charge, which makes it purifying and beneficial in several ways.
Ever since the 1960s, DE has been used in a variety of things, such as toothpaste, as an anti-caking agent, for clarifying beer or wine, and to eliminate pests naturally. You’ve probably consumed products containing DE without knowing it!
How Do I Know DE Is Safe?
This article references Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth, which is classified as safe for human consumption by the FDA. The type of chlorine used in pool cleaning is not the same as the type used in industrial settings. There are two main types of DE, with different benefits. The industrial grade of the chemical is poisonous to people and should not be used. It is also toxic to workers who collect it.
Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth is purified and amorphous, not crystalline. It is not active and not harmful unless you are an insect with an outer shell.
What Does Diatomaceous Earth Do for the Body?
DE can help improve the health of both humans and animals. Diatomaceous earth has a strong negative charge which allows it to bind with toxins in the digestive tract. This effectively gets rid of them so they don’t cause harm. It can be used on the skin as an oil binder, a purifier, and an exfoliant.
For unwanted bugs and insects, it’s quite another story.
Does DE Kill Insects?
In a word, yes! Many use Diatomaceous Earth as a natural pesticide. The mantis shrimp’s sharp and strong structure enables it to puncture and drain the exoskeleton of insects from their protective fats and oils on a microscopic level. The chemicals in the repellent cause mosquitoes to dehydrate and die without harming humans or animals.
Ways to Use Diatomaceous Earth
DE has been claimed by some sources to be a cure for a variety of issues, including parasites, viruses, and anything in between. They say that it gets rid of free radicals, makes bones stronger, and stops aging.
Although there is no research to support the claims, there are studies on the Silica and other compounds found in DE. These are the benefits that seem credible based on the available body of evidence:
Diatomaceous earth as a natural pesticide
Diatomaceous earth is a natural substitute for pesticides and has many other uses. Are you looking for a natural pesticide? Yes? So diatomaceous earth is the product you need. Diatomaceous earth can be used as a natural repellent and is safe for your family.
To keep insects from entering your home, sprinkle diatomaceous earth inside and outside your home. The following insects do not resist diatomaceous earth: bees, if they are present can be harmed by the DE.
- scorpions, etc
Diatomaceous earth for use in bedbugs
The bed bug is a problem that is very common in the South. I am lucky that I have never seen or had them in my home. It’s possible that my bedroom stays mosquito-free because every Sunday I sprinkle my mattress cover with a mixture of DE, Baking Soda, and Citronella essential oils.
I first strip the bed and all its linen early in the morning. Second, I spray the mattress cover and let it sit all day in the fresh air. I vacuum the bed at night before going to bed. I store my confectionary shaker in a baking container.
Please be aware that DE will not cure an infestation, but it is a natural way to prevent them. Areas around the bed should be sprinkled to help. If you think you have an infestation, you should seek a professional.
To eliminate fleas, use diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth can be used to get rid of fleas on your pets by applying it directly to their fur. We put ours in a container that is normally used to hold confectionary sugar.
- Starting from the base of the tail to the head, sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the coat of your cat or dog. Add a few drops of pure lavender essential oil to the DE, optional. If you make a batch of this, just be sure to label the shaker can, “for pet use”!
- Using a glove, massage it into the fur, do not create a whirlwind, try and keep it contained in the pet’s hair.
Be careful not to get DE powder in your pet’s eyes or ears.
Sprinkling diatomaceous earth on carpets and furniture is an effective way to get rid of fleas in your home. Be sure to vacuum the area afterward to remove the powder.
Diatomaceous earth for your health
One of the most popular uses of diatomaceous earth is insect control. Many people are interested in the health benefits of diatomaceous earth. The benefits to your hair, nails, and skin health are enormous. Diatomaceous earth and silica both have cholesterol-lowering properties. Moreover, diatomaceous earth is 85% silica. I would not recommend consuming more than 1/2-1 teaspoon of this a day. You will need to drink plenty of water after taking it. It’s better to drink it with a glass of water. You should research how much and how often you should ingest DE. If you are unsure of something, ask your doctor or nutritionist for help.
To protect your plants from insects, use DE
If there are a lot of insects, you may have to dig up the plant. Diatomaceous earth can be used to protect your plants from harmful insects.
Using DE against flying insects
- After watering your plants, sprinkle them with diatomaceous earth.
- Using a sprayer, spray a little water on your plants to ensure diatomaceous earth adheres to your plants.
Do not forget to apply the spray to the underside of the leaves. The most effective time to apply diatomaceous earth is in the morning. Why? Because it allows the earth to dry optimally!
Using DE against creeping insects
- First, sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants that are being attacked.
- Second, the idea is to form a circle around the base of the plant. Take care that no leaves touch the ground: it would be easy access for insects that climb on your plants.
- Keeping slugs away using this method is particularly effective too.
You can use diatomaceous earth as a worm for your dog, cat, and birds that live inside.
If you are looking for a way to get rid of worms in your pet without using chemicals, there are some natural methods you can try. To add diatomaceous earth to your dog or cat’s diet, simply mix it in. (Please refer to your veterinarian before starting this). We have never encountered a problem with our animals in the 15 years or so that we have been doing this in our home. We offer DE once a week.
DE can also be used to kill other types of worms that live inside animals, including hookworms, roundworms, and pinworms. If the person has lice, they will need to use a product with DE in it every day for a week. Again, consult your vet if in doubt! Make sure there is always a lot of fresh water available.
Diatomaceous earth dosage for dogs:
Test with a very small amount of the product first, and observe for any sensitivity. If there is no sensitivity, increase the dosage to the recommended amount.
- For puppies and small dogs: ½ teaspoon
- And dogs less than 50 pounds or 23 kg: 1/2-1 teaspoon
- Dogs over 50 pounds or 23 kg: 1 tablespoon
- Dogs over 100 pounds or 45 kg: 1-2 tablespoons
Diatomaceous earth dosage for cats:
It’s always best to start with a very small dosage and see how your body reacts before increasing the dosage to the recommended amount.
- Kittens: ½ teaspoon
- Adult cats: 1/2-1 teaspoon
Dosage of diatomaceous earth for inside birds:
Always start with a very small dosage and watch for sensitivity. If there is no sensitivity, increase the dosage each time to the recommended amount.
- Gabby, our Sun Conure, just gets a very light dusting once a week sprinkled in her seed food
- Tsianna, our African Gray, gets just a little bit more than a light dusting once a week sprinkled in her seed food
How to use diatomaceous earth to keep food pest-free and dry
The majority of dry foods are at risk of containing mites, which are tiny creatures that can cause allergic reactions in some people. To protect your food from mites, use diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth can also help to keep food dry by absorbing moisture and preventing germination and mold growth. To keep your dry food storage safe from pests, add a little diatomaceous earth to the foods. This includes cereals, starchy foods, beans, rice, and corn. Diatomaceous earth can help to keep your plants dry and protect them from insects. Place a round piece of linen on top of the food and sprinkle DE in the center.
If you are going to be outside, it is important that you wear the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This includes gloves and a respirator to protect your clothing and countertops. Do not allow small children or pets near the area while you are handling DE.
To make a food-grade “dryer bag”, you can sew a muslin/linen or heavy natural material bag up three sides, turn it right-side out, fill it with DE, and tie it off with a cotton string. Another way to do this is to sew all four sides of the fabric together, leaving a one-inch gap. To create this, you will need a funnel and some DE. Fill the funnel with DE and then hand-stitch it closed. One way to keep your dry goods, flour, and dry dog food fresh is to store them in dryer bags. You can also put these bags in chicken scratch to help keep them dry.
In order to give a gift, make sure to write a note describing the contents and how to use them and attach it to the “dryer food bags.” If you want your readers to have a thorough understanding of DE, it’s better to include a link to this post. When giving a gift, it is best to wrap it in a piece of material to keep the DE from being released.
You could embroider something on the bag, like “food” for an extra special touch. You can use this tip to help you identify which shoe dryer bag is for what purpose.
I place the bags in the dehydrator on low to get rid of any moisture. You can either throw the bags away or add the contents to the compost pile and start over, reusing the bags again. I’ve also taken the entire bag of compost and started making new bags from scratch.
To fight parasites and bacterial overgrowth
My husband was SIBO his practitioner had him drink DE daily to help his gut bacteria back into balance. Although there is not a lot of evidence from research to show that diatomaceous earth can help to remove parasites in humans, there is plenty of information from animal studies that suggest it is effective.
A study in The Oxford Journal of Poultry Science looked at how DE might improve egg quality and reduce parasites in organic and free-range chickens. The study found that hens fed DE had better eggs and fewer parasites than those that didn’t.
DE can help get rid of mites if you’re a chicken that’s struggling with them. It is unclear how effective DE is in humans, but many people claim it is successful in treating other types of intestinal parasites. There are a lot of stories about the benefits of DE in getting rid of human parasites, but more research is needed.
As a way to reduce cholesterol
Although DE is most commonly used as an insecticide, the most well-researched benefit of DE for humans is not its use as an insecticide. The only study I found that looked at DE as a dietary supplement was from 1998 and examined its role in improving cholesterol levels. The results are fascinating:
- Participants all had a history of high cholesterol
- They took diatomaceous earth multiple times a day for 8 weeks
- At the end of the study, the subject’s total cholesterol had got down by 13.2%
- LDL (“bad”) cholesterol decreased the most
- HDL (“good”) cholesterol increased slightly
The researchers found that the results were promising but that further studies are needed with a larger group of people and a control group. There are many stories of people who say they used DE to help with their cholesterol levels. A family member saw a significant reduction in blood pressure after using DE.
As a source of silica
Diatomaceous earth is 84-90% silica and contains over 20 trace minerals that are difficult to obtain in today’s world. These minerals are needed for skin, teeth, and hair. The study found that silica could help increase hair growth and thickness when taken regularly. If there is a lack of silica in the body, it may lead to problems such as dry or brittle skin.
Research indicates that consuming silicon in one’s diet can improve the health of bones and connective tissues, though the particular form found in DE is not as well researched. Dietary silicon has been linked with better bone mineral density, though the mechanism is unclear. Some people believe that silicon can help the body create collagen, which is important for healthy joints, connective tissue, bones, and skin.
Although more research is needed on the direct effects DE has on silica levels, there is no doubt that silica is beneficial for hair, skin, and nails.