Diatomaceous Earth (often referred to as "DE") is an off white talc-like powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton (such as bed bugs, ants or fleas) it compromises their waxy coating so that their innards turn into teeny tiny bug jerky. But it doesn't hurt mammals. We can eat it. We do eat it! It's in lots of grain based foods because lots of grains are stored with diatomaceous earth to keep the bugs from eating the grain!
You may never have heard of diatomaceous earth before, but chances are you’ve consumed or used plenty of products that contained it. So what is diatomaceous earth?
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural product made up of fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Composed of the cell walls/shells of single cell diatoms, it easily crumbles to a fine powder. In fact, the composition of the diatom cell walls are biogenic silica.
What are some products that contain diatomaceous earth? Some common products that contain diatomaceous earth include dusts, powders (or a “powder duster”) and pressurized liquids that are used on the outside of buildings, on farms, in gardens, and in human and pet foods.
It usually comes in the form of a white powder and is also used in water filtering, food manufacturing, skin products and farming to naturally eliminate free radicals, viruses, insects, parasites and other harmful organisms by binding to them and drying them out. It also has the ability to improve the body’s use of calcium, improve bone mineralization, protect joints and fight effects of aging. And that’s not all.
Diatomaceous Earth Benefits can Kills Insects and Other Harmful Substances:
In the U.S., DE is classified under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act as a safe substance for household use. How does diatomaceous earth work to. get rid of insects? It’s a natural insecticide, since it absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects’ exoskeletons, which causes them to dehydrate and die of water deficiency. This is why it’s useful in food preservation, as a natural home deodorizer and cleanser, and for helping to treat livestock suffering from parasites.
Using diatomaceous earth can help eliminate bed bug, house dust mites, cockroach, ants (such as ant hills) and flea infestations within your home without the use for harsh chemicals. According to the website for Pest Control Technologies, silica gels have been used by the pest control industry for more than a half century since they safely produce an electrostatic charge that helps them adhere to insects crawling over treated surfaces.
Silica gel and diatomaceous earth have been found in studies to kill insects by removing a portion of the razor-thin, waxy outer coating that helps an insect conserve moisture, which allows them to work better than other products that relay on abrasion or poisoning.
How safe is diatomaceous earth?
Wondering if DE can harm animals or contribute to environmental pollution? Evidence shows this is very unlikely and that diatomaceous earth is actually nontoxic to mammals, fish and aquatic invertebrates.
It’s commonly encountered by birds and other wildlife in nature but has been found to be harmless to birds, fish or other wildlife in numerous studies. In fact, silica is naturally plentiful in the ocean, and seawater contains vast amounts of diatomaceous earth. The skeletons of many types of sea life and marine organisms are actually made using silica, and therefore it seems to pose no major risks to most species.
As far as plants go, DE can actually be beneficial since it’s used as a growing medium in potted plants. It’s sold as natural soil additive and helps soil retain water and nutrients, while allowing for more oxygen circulation and killing off parasites. It also helps preserve foods naturally (such as grains or legumes, which can grow mold) and helps replenish soil so more plants and food can be grown for livestock and human consumption.