Beginner's Guide to Diatomaceous Earth

Not sure where to start with diatomaceous earth? The amount of conflicting information about DE can be overwhelming. Find everything you need to be confident in taking your first steps with DE below.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

The word "diatomaceous" comes from the root word "diatom", which is a single-celled organism. Diatomaceous earth forms over a long period of time as millions of these organisms fossilize in lake beds. These lake beds then dry up, exposing the sedimentary deposit that we call diatomaceous earth.

So why make a website dedicated to some fossilized deposit?

Because of the impressive number of things these diatoms can do to improve your life.

Grades of Diatomaceous Earth

Before we get into the meat of how to use DE, it's important to know that diatomaceous earth is commercially sold in several different grades. These grades classify your DE and can let you know if it has undergone any treatment to alter its natural state. Here's a list of four of the most common grades of DE:

  1. Pure Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth: This is 100% natural, unaltered DE that has simply been mined from the earth and packaged for your use. This is the kind we sell here at diatomaceousearth.com
  2. Crawling Insect Control DE: We also carry this product here on our site. This is technically the exact same product as the one above. It's 100% natural food grade DE with no additives. The reason for the different label is because we are meeting the standards of a different governing organization. The EPA regulates pesticides while the FDA regulates dietary supplements. In order to satisfy both requirements, we need two different labels. The price difference is to cover the cost of registration with the EPA. Please note that this isn't always the case with other companies. Don't assume all pest control DE is pure food grade. If you have any questions, contact the company that you purchased your diatomaceous earth from.
  3. Pool Grade Diatomaceous Earth: Unlike food grade DE, pool grade diatomaceous earth is dangerous to eat or inhale. This is DE that has been treated at temperatures in excess of 1000°C or 1832°F to change its state to mostly crystalline silica. This increases its effectiveness as a pool filter, but makes it unsafe for any other use. None of the information we provide on our site involves using pool grade DE.
  4. Other DE Blends: There are other types of DE that are sold as food grade but aren't pure DE. Red diatomaceous earth typically has a natural clay added to it. Although generally considered safe, we focus our efforts on producing pure DE without additives, and so this product isn't one we mention very often.

What is Food Grade DE Used For?

Food Grade DE is a fairly unique mineral in that it can be used to fill a very diverse range of needs. In a broad sense, almost all uses fall into two main (and rather unrelated) categories: health benefits and pest control. If you've bought food grade diatomaceous earth, chances are you're looking for some health improvements for family or pets, or you're trying to deal with pests like bedbugs in and around the home.

Using DE For Health Benefits

female jogger

Diatomaceous earth can support your health both externally and internally. You can mix it with a little water to make an effective face wash that quickly removes oils, or add some to your favorite toothpaste to boost its cleaning power. But the real advantages come from eating it.

We've collected countless reviews from DE users around the country and found many common benefits in adding a little DE in your diet. These include:

  • Increased collagen production, which leads to healthier hair, skin and nails
  • Improved joint and ligament health
  • Reduced cholesterol levels
  • Better digestive health
  • Increased energy

If you're looking to eat DE for the health benefits, we recommend starting with a single teaspoon a day. Simply mix it with a glass of water, juice or a smoothie. After 1 -2 weeks you can build up to a tablespoon a day if you wish to increase the effects. Taking DE is generally more effective when done separately from other foods. When taken with food, the absorptive properties of DE are used to take in the nutrients of the food, rather than any toxins in your body. This lessens the effect of both the diatomaceous earth and your meal. The same is true of medications. If you are taking regular medications, we would encourage you to consult with your healthcare provider before taking DE.

Using DE as a Pesticide

cockroach close-up

Because of its porous and abrasive nature, diatomaceous earth is an effective pesticide against anything with an exoskeleton. This includes just about every bug you can think of from the smallest bedbug to the largest scorpion. It is not effective on mice or other rodents, as they have the same protection to DE that we do: skin. DE works by scratching away at the waxy coating on an insect until it penetrates their shell and absorbs their fluids. This causes quick dehydration, leading to a quick death. There are several advantages and disadvantages to using DE as a pest control:

On The Bright Side

  • Insects cannot build up a resistance to DE like they can a chemical pesticide
  • Being 100% chemical free, you don't have to worry about it harming kids or animals
  • DE doesn't lose its effectiveness over time. If it stays in place, it'll work for you.

Things to Be Aware of

  • If you want it to be effective, get ready for a lot of mess. DE will only work on contact with a bug. If it's not touching, it's not doing anything to help you. For maximum effect, you often need to lightly coat your entire living area, kitchen or bedroom depending on the location of the problem.
  • Because this is a fine powder, it could potentially irritate anyone with sensitive lungs, including asthmatics. If this is a cause of concern for you, we recommend using a dust mask while applying DE.

Next Steps

Diatomaceous earth is an essential tool for anyone looking to create a more organic, chemical-free lifestyle. If you would like to learn more about DE, there are plenty of resources for you to go to. For quick answers to your questions, try the live chat feature of our site in the bottom right corner of the page. If you'd like to read more articles on a particular topic, visit our A-Z Guide. Lastly, to interact with the large DE community and learn from the experiences of others, join our Facebook page.

It's our goal to ensure you can rely on us for accurate answers to all your DE questions. Feel free to contact us Mon-Fri 9am - 5pm MST at (208) 228-0025 or by email at info@diatomaceousearth.com and we'll be happy to assist you.

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Copyright © 2016 Diatomaceous Earth, LLC. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use

(208) 228-0025

Copyright © 2016 Diatomaceous Earth, LLC. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use