What Is Diatomaceous Earth?

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on


Diatomaceous earth (also called diatomite) is an off-white sedimentary rock that has been granulated into a chalky powder-like substance akin to talcum powder. It derives from fossilized remains of something called diatoms, which are a type of prehistoric tough-shelled, single-celled organisms similar to algae. [1] These diatoms are ocean based and, over the span of 50 million years, came to be embedded into the Earth’s crust. The fossil shape of diatoms is uniquely characterized by the diatoms’ symmetrical or twin-shell structure.

Diatomite was first discovered around 1837 in Northern Germany, and many interesting applications for the product began to be conceived. Alfred Nobel, the inspiration for the Nobel Prize, used the chemical properties of diatomaceous earth to invent dynamite.

Diatomaceous Earth: Basic Facts

Deposits of diatomite are found throughout diverse regions of the world, typically in lakes and marine areas. There are generally five common varieties of diatomite sourced throughout the world today: Tripolite (from Tripoli, Libya), Bann (from Lower Bann Valley, Ireland), Moller (from Denmark), freshwater lake regions, and saltwater.

Interestingly, each geographically-diverse deposit of diatomaceous earth has a different shape and structure due to the varying amounts and types of other minerals and clays in the surrounding earth composition. The silica content can vary within different deposits depending on age. There are even different species of diatomaceous earth which are also determined by the diatoms’ age and historic environment.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Two forms of diatomite are in use today: food-grade (unheated/unadulterated) and industrial grade (heated). Food-grade diatomaceous earth is naturally dried (termed “uncalcined”) and has different properties and structure than industrial-grade diatomite. The heating of the diatomaceous earth for industrial use changes the structure from amorphous (unstructured, free-flowing) characteristics to a crystallized, structured form (calcined).

The overwhelming majority of diatomaceous earth is used in industrial applications, such as:

  • Insecticide and commercial pesticide
  • Filtration medium in water systems, swimming pools, and food
  • Mild abrasive use in hygiene products such as toothpaste and facial washes
  • Absorbent use such as in toxic liquid spills, cat litter, and ethylene gas
  • Preservative
  • Use in DNA processing and purification
  • Hydroponic garden growing medium
  • Anti-caking agent in grain storage and livestock dewormer

Though the majority of diatomaceous applications are industrial in scope, an increasing area of interest for its use lie in human and animal applications, particularly for its exciting benefit as a safe and effective anti-parasitic. Data suggests that food-grade diatomaceous, which is rich in silica content, may have positive effects on skeletal health and metabolism.

Up to one-third of diatomite’s natural silica content is rendered bioavailable for the nutritive trace mineral silicon, among other trace minerals including boron, manganese, and copper. Additionally, diatomite contains a rich electrolyte mineral content consisting of up to 19% calcium, 5% sodium, and 3% magnesium, depending on deposit variables.

Do you use diatomaceous earth? What do you use it for? Please let us know your experiences in the comments!

References (1)
  1. Antonides, Lloyd E. Diatomite. USGS.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • mike

    Being a small egg producer,I use D.E. weekly on my chickens for worms and parasites. I also will take it my self for being around the chickens.

  • EarthPulseTech

    dogs/yard bad tick infestation for months. spread into the house. drove me mad constantly having to bath the dogs. GONE in a few days. miracle stuff. while it does work on the fleas, it needs to be puffed on them every few days. small price to pay for natural flea and tick solution. wouldn’t want to have animals and be without it.

  • Debbie Eggers

    I take a heaping tbsp. a day. My friend got me started on it and it cleaned her of parasites. That’s why I started using it. She goes to a Holistic Dr. and she recommends all her patients take it.

  • Izabella

    I mix it with thieves oil for a good tooth powder. I also consume it daily

  • Profran

    where do you buy it? all I knew is it was for pool filters.

  • Profran

    wow! where did you buy it? thanks

  • Profran

    where do you buy it for ingesting? I only know about the pool supply store.

  • EarthPulseTech

    organic farmer in west florida. she shipped to me all the way to mauritius. i wouldn’t buy the chinese stuff. have read too many horror stories about chinese sourced supposedly organic products. fantastic stuff. buy it, you won’t be sorry. available from a number of places. p

  • Dayo

    Where in West FL? Do you have contact info? I live in FL is why I ask.

  • mars

    Dr. Group, I am hoping you can answer a question for me. I have acute anemia due to uterine fibroids and even had to had a blood transfusion a week ago. I am going through my diet to see if there is anything interfering with iron absorption and realized diatomaceous earth might be an issue for me. Since it binds to metals to remove them from your body, wouldn’t it do the same with iron?

  • NG

    I consume it daily! Since doing so I hardly ever catch a cold and If I do, it’s mild. Many people also think I’m younger than I am and I think it’s due to DE.

  • Bladeistrue

    Cool, but the earth being no where near “50 million years old” + evolution is a big lie.

  • Lisa Torres

    I started using this a week ago to detox myself and my shihtzhu, since he had worms. His worms are gone. What’s been elimating out of myself is disturbing. The taste of DE isn’t bad at all. The pyloric and illeceotal valves in my stomach don’t operate correctly, in my case causes the food to slowly digest and they don’t open like they should. It causes bloating, weight gain, pain and constipation. I changed my diet dramatically, I have done 2 other stomach detoxes. DE is by far the best. I’ve lost over 40lbs since February when I started to have serious pain in my left side. You do urinate alot when you take this. That’s a good thing. Natural news website has a good article on this and directions for how to use it. I’ve been buying organic foods for years, but it’s not enough. Don’t be afraid to try different products. I directed my doctor to dr. Groups website and others. He was stunned when he saw me recently. I told him what I’ve been doing and he looked up everything on his pc while I was there. I’m living proof that what dr. Group, Alex jones, and many others are saying is right about what nature has for us out there. Do the research, like these guys say to do. There’s alot to what the ancients did and this research is based on that. I can wear a bikini now and I’m 50 yrs old.

  • David Morrison

    You can get it at Amazon. Also, Lowes carries the industrial type in their pool section sometimes. It is a pool filter medium so pool places may carry it. If you are going to ingest it for yourself make sure to get “Food Grade.” I put it in my smoothies for parasites and minerals.

  • Diane Gray Tlc

    Earth Origins carries

  • Diane Gray Tlc

    Earth Origins

  • Naniebell

    I purchased mine at Lowe’s to use for bedbugs. The bugs come out to feed around 4am-6am. I sprayed alcohol on the bugs and it killed them instantly. I had to wash everything, wrap mattress first with saran wrap, then covered with plastic. I sprayed the furniture (nightstands and bedframe) with alcohol and then with the powder. Sprayed the powder on the baseboards, around the bed and in between the mattresses. Inspected the room every morning for a few days and could see the dead ones in the powder. They are gone!!!!! YAY!!!!!!

  • Kristen Bair Hink

    How often did you take it? What other changes?

  • verntanny

    I have the exact same story as Naniebell. Works great for ants too.

  • Julianna Kindlund-Carpenter

    We use it for a parsite dewormer for our animals it works amazing and with not side effects you get from typical toxic wormers.

  • Julianne

    I first started using it when I was diagnosed with 4 herniated discs in my neck. I am a medi-cal assistant for 30 years working for orthopedic surgeons. At the time the pain was interfering with my day to day activities and I was on pain killers, muscle relaxants, anti inflammatories, really messed up from these medicines. I had to work being a single mother so my sister turned me on to diatomaceous earth. I stopped using all the medicines, and within one week my pain was gone and I was able to function again. Of course the doctors didn’t endorse it but it worked for me. Now I have no pain no symptoms of numbness I’m able to live a wonderfully active life and still working.

  • Leticia L. Robledo

    I used it due to bad health. From diabetes to tremors, hbp, cholesterol, and so much more. I was told I was going to end up in a wheelchair. You name it I had it. Stared taking DE and my joints stopped hurting, got rid of the bloating, my skin improved, hair and nails grew faster and healthier. Even noticed change in hair color, from gray to dark dark again. My diabetes improved and no more Metformin. I managed to get off my medications. It also helped me sleep, yet gave me energy thought the day! I love DE! The fact it detoxed my body and got rid of, “I don’t know what it was” out of my gut?! So now my family and friends use it. Just recently had a bag shipped to Texas, its not found anywhere, in certain places. Love my DE!!!

  • Leticia L. Robledo

    I lost weight also..And it really does wonders with skin, hair, and nails. And rarely get sick with colds. And on rare occasion when I do get sick time wise is short. It stops flu symptoms like diarrhea fast.

  • Carrie Leigh McKinney

    I had pinworms. Nothing would get rid of them. After trying everything else for six months this was the only thing that finally got rid of them completely. It really cleans out your colon of everything build up in there over the years like harmful antibiotics that still reside in the film of your intestines. My blood pressure and bad cholesterol have gone down without medicine, just with the DE. I give a smaller amount to my granddaughter to prevent any reoccurrence of the parasites.

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