The earth is full of minerals. These minerals are used in everyday living for food, construction, and other applications. The diatomaceous earth is one of those minerals that have a brilliant composition with numerous applications in the food and several industries. But what exactly is diatomaceous earth?
Diatomaceous earth, also known as diatomite, is composed mainly of small water organism fossils known as diatoms. The diatomites are produced when diatoms die and produce sediment called diatom ooze. This fossilized exoskeleton exhibits fine white grain features known as silica. The continuous settling and sedimentation of the remains in bodies of water led to the formation of silica deposits. Nowadays, silica deposits are harvested from different bodies of water because of their abundance in these places.
Types of Diatomaceous Earth
The diatomaceous earth has two main types of applications, the food, and the filter industry. The concentration of the silica varies in different applications to maximize the effectiveness of the diatomaceous earth.
Filter Grade Diatomite
This type of diatomaceous earth is also known as the non-food grade. It is mainly used in industry for water and other liquid filtration. The percentage of crystalline silica is around 60 percent or above.
Food Grade Diatomite
The food-grade diatomite is edible and non-toxic which is commonly used in agricultural and food processing. Several approval-giving bodies like FDA and USDA permit the use of food-grade diatomite as a supplement. The percentage of crystalline silica is around 0.5 percent up to 2 percent.
Other uses of Non-food Grade Diatomite
The non-food grade diatomite was known as a great filter for liquids like water and beer. But because of the properties of diatomite like high surface and porosity, there are also several industries aside from filtering like construction and manufacturing that uses the material.
Here are some the other uses of diatomaceous earth:
An elite quality diatomite composes of around 80 percent silica or above. This feature makes it a good additive in manufacturing cement to boost the silica properties. Freshly picked diatomite just needs a crushing, so it can be processed with other minerals like limestone and other materials for cement manufacturing. The diatomites are also used fillers and to prevent sticking in asphalt roads.
Plastic and Rubber Products
The synthetic industry found a way to cultivate diatomaceous earth in their manufacturing processes. Industries that are producing rubber, plastic, and paint are using diatomaceous earth as a substitute or binding component for their products.
Some plastic and rubber manufacturers use diatomaceous earth in the manufacturing process. For plastics, it acts as a filler to lessen bubbles because of its smaller particle size. For rubber, it acts as a filler and gives more resistance to adhesion. Some latex or paint manufacturers use diatomite as an extender or whitening component.
The diatomite may be considered as a great liquid absorbent. It can absorb and keep liquid intact amounting to its own weight. This absorbing action of diatomaceous earth is backed up by its small particle size, high porosity, and surface area. Some cosmetic products are using it for oil absorption, while on the agricultural side, it is used to cultivate the soil by making it loamy for plants because of its ability to absorb and contain water particles.
Gardening and Pest Control
Knowing that diatomaceous earth is a very good liquid absorbent, several gardening techniques are being incorporated with it. Because of its ability to contain water and high porosity to let the soil breathe, it is a good choice for gardening as it also prevents seeds from sticking to one another.
The diatomite can also be used as an insecticide to prevent slugs, ants, fleas and other pests. When kept dry, diatomite dehydrates insects’ body fluids causing them to die. It can also be used on pets to control fleas and other parasites.
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
The food-grade diatomaceous earth is almost entirely composed of silica. Silica is an essential component in the human body as the muscles, ligaments and cartilage benefit from it. It is being used as a supplement and several studies show many health benefits with the use of diatomaceous earth. Here are some health benefits linked to the diatomaceous earth:
- Improves healthy digestion and the digestive tract
- Improves skin health
- Improves heart health
- Improves nails and hair growth
- Improves bone health
- Provides detoxification properties for the body
While the following health benefits listed above are formed around a small group of participants. Some results are promising like lower bad cholesterol levels by a margin of 10 percent and at the same time increase in the good cholesterol. Another promising result incorporated by the use of diatomite is healthy skin as it removes excess oil from the face.
The potential of diatomaceous earth for health and well-being is a groundbreaking discovery. However, further research and study are still needed to verify the potential benefits of diatomaceous earth for the body.
How Much Does Diatomaceous Earth Cost?
The price of diatomaceous earth depends on its grade, purpose, and process undergone. The suppliers market unrefined diatomite for around 7 US dollars per ton. Unrefined diatomite or diatomaceous earth coming directly from mine deposits are utilized in concrete and other construction work. The processed or refined diatomite price usually marketed around 500 US dollars or more. They are used in cosmetics, arts and crafts, and other food processes. Diatomites are also available in retail which is usually supplements that can cost around a couple of dollars.
Is diatomaceous earth safe to consume? As to where it stands today, the FDA and USDA approved the use of diatomite in food supplements. However, inhaling it is a different story. Some cases show lung irritation and scarring upon long term exposure or inhalation of crystalline silica. Proper handling and precaution must be put in practice to avoid inhalation of silica crystals because it can damage the lungs.
The diatomaceous earth can be considered as a gift from nature. There are many potential uses for the mineral and linked to have health changing benefits like other supplements from the market. Hopefully, this article gave you the proper knowledge about diatomaceous earth. Before ending this article, keep in mind that lifestyle choices can improve health and wellness.