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Diatomaceous Earth has been a wonderful discovery for my family and I. We use it daily for just about everything. I feel very fortunate to have access to such a useful product. The first thing I learned about food grade Diatomaceous Earth is that it is completely organic and natural. My ears always perk up when I know something is natural, that usually means it is good for you and I don’t worry about having it around my children. I feel like we found a treasure that has been hidden for millions of years. Now we get to enjoy the benefits.
DE is the remains of billions of diatoms that live in the water. Diatoms are a one celled plant (brown algae) belonging to the bacillariophyceae species (a class of diatom) that lived and flourished millions of years ago. As the diatoms lived in the water (both salt water and freshwater) they gathered minerals and silica, which one of the main sources was volcanic ash that dissolved in the water. The silica and minerals gathered, formed little shells around the diatom body in the structure similar to a lattice. The purpose of the diatoms was photosynthesis, providing up to 80% of our oxygen. The diatoms fed all kinds of aquatic life, small fish, seals, whales and protozoa that all grazed on the pastures of algae diatoms. It provided minerals, proteins and vitamins which is why I have heard it called “the meadow grass of the sea.”
Diatoms can divide in half every 4-36 hours, increasing their numbers at a very fast rate…about a billion in just a couple of weeks! It is amazing to learn that they live a very short but useful life, some only live to 6 days. Once the diatom dies the little lattice shell they had around their bodies, falls to the earth, one at a time over and over again. They collect in lake beds and ocean floors. It takes about 20,000 years for the diatom layers to fossilize one foot! Some deposits have been a few feet thick or even more amazing, hundreds or even thousands of feet deep. Diatomite deposits that are mined today are about 25 million years or less in age. We are able to mine this precious shell, crush it into a fine powder and use it for a multitude of things. Some of the main uses of diatomaceous earth (or DE) is agriculture and horticulture as a natural insecticide. It is also used by humans and animals as a de-wormer. There are about 1,500 uses in manufacturing diatomaceous earth.
It is the utmost importance to obtain only food grade diatomaceous earth, or amorphous silica. Food grade DE is EPA approved to be mixed with grains to control meal worms and other pests and has been exempted from tolerance requirements as an inert, inactive ingredient in chemical pesticides. Diatomaceous earth is EPA approved against indoor and outdoor crawling insects. Diatomaceous earth is USDA approved as an anti-caking agent for animal feed. Our diatomaceous earth is also FDA approved for internal and external use and has a rating of Food Chemical Codex Grade. Our deposit has 99% amorphous silica content, is very pure and white in color. A fresh water deposit in the mountains, such as ours, formed when snow was pure and its run off provided the water source these diatoms lived in. There are food grade diatomaceous earth products that are yellow or tan in color which indicates a higher iron content. Those which are gray in color contain more clay.
How Does Food Grade DE Work on Insects?
Food grade diatomaceous earth makes a very effective natural insecticide. The insecticidal quality of diatomaceous earth is due to the razor sharp edges of the diatom remains. When diatomaceous earth comes in contact with the insects, the sharp edges cut through the bugs waxy outer body and then the powdery diatomaceous earth absorbs the body fluids, causing death from dehydration. Food grade DE is used for external and internal parasites. It is safe for human and livestock/pet consumption and poses no harm to warm blooded life. Food grade DE is safe to use in the garden, even the day of harvest.
Any food grade diatomaceous earth uses other than those approved by the EPA, FDA, or USDA are strictly reports of what farmers, others, and we ourselves have done with diatomaceous earth. Additionally, the following material is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician or vet. This information is not intended as a substitute for the reader’s independent judgment and personal responsibility. We encourage you to educate yourself about food grade DE and then make your own decisions.