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# Bentonite Clay & Food Grade D.E. Guide

Both bentonite clay and diatomaceous earth have exploded in popularity over recent years. While many are beginning to become hip to the human health benefits these two earthly supplements have, others are taking note for its anti-aging skincare effects when being used as a mask or exfoliator.

This guide will serve to help you understand bentonite and diatomaceous better so you might be more likely to use it for its skincare benefits which we outline later in the guide.

Offering a wide range of health benefits, cosmetic applications and useful properties such as pest control or detoxification, both of these substances have a dynamic range of uses. Despite their popularity, however, bentonite clay and diatomaceous earth are often confused, with many people unsure of the differences between the two.

In this article we’ll outline the differences between bentonite clay and diatomaceous earth, explaining their applications, benefits, drawbacks, and pros and cons to help you understand the basics of these powerful organic substances.

# Diatomaceous Earth Explained

Although its name may imply that diatomaceous earth, or DE, is derived from soil or dirt, the truth is far more interesting. Diatomaceous earth consists of the fossilized remains of million year old algae, preserved in the dry sedimentary remains of lake beds, streams and rivers. Known as diatoms, these prehistoric microscopic life forms have undergone a mineral fossilization over millions of years.

The final product of this millennial process is a fine, white powder that consists of over 85% pure silica. The high silica content of diatomaceous earth is what makes it so versatile, while trace amount of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron provide a high amount of nutritional value.

Once DE is mined from the ground, it’s crushed into a fine white powder and graded into one of three primary grades.

### Diatomaceous Earth Classification

The first and most popular classification of diatomaceous earth is food-grade DE. Food grade DE meets FDA standards for GRAS, or “generally regarded as safe” status. This means while the FDA has not expressly endorsed DE as a dietary supplement, it is regarded as safe to consume for both humans and animals.

Pest control grade diatomaceous earth is essentially the same substance as food-grade DE but is subject to different control standards and is therefore not suitable for human consumption. The EPA manages the classification of pest control grade diatomaceous earth, requiring separate labelling for this form of DE. It’s important to note that many companies mix chemical pest control agents or poisons in with pest control grade DE to increase effectiveness, so never use pest control grade DE in lieu of food grade DE.

The third most popular form of diatomaceous earth is pool grade DE. The highly absorbent properties of pure silica make it a great pool filter, but the trace elements in raw DE must first be removed to make it effective for this purpose. Pool grade DE is diatomaceous earth that has been heated to temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees celsius, causing the particles to crystallize. The crystalline structure of pool grade DE is very dangerous if consumed or inhaled, so be sure to never confuse it with the former two forms of DE.

### Applications and Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth has been used in a diverse range of applications since its discovery in the late 19th century. Seeing use as a feed filler for livestock, agricultural fertilizer, a stabilizer for explosives and as a desiccant, the industrial and commercial applications of diatomaceous earth are varied and widespread. Modern medical research into the health applications of diatomaceous earth, however, is in its early stages and has not yielded much concrete evidence either for or against its use as a health supplement.

A 1998 clinical trial demonstrated the efficacy of DE in lowering blood cholesterol levels[1], conclusively proving that diatomaceous earth has at least one scientifically-demonstrable health benefit. There are, however, a huge amount of user-reported health benefits of diatomaceous earth. Users of diatomaceous earth have reported better digestive function, higher energy levels, more consistent bowel movements and healthier skin, nails and hair.

Other applications of diatomaceous earth include use as a natural pest control agent. Free from chemicals or poisons, diatomaceous earth possesses a unique molecular structure that makes it a guaranteed-to-work tool for removing pests from the home and garden.

### Diatomaceous Earth as a Dietary Supplement and Health Detox

One of the primary reasons people supplement their diet with diatomaceous earth is its high silica content. Silica deficiency in the human body can lead to a wide range of health disorders such as joint pain, bone deformities, poorly formed joints and reduced collagen production. Clinical trials have determined that supplementing the diet with silica can provide better bone, cartilage and ligament health as well as promoting collagen production, which can reduce the effect of age on the body and reduce the symptoms of baldness[2].

The unique molecular composition of diatomaceous earth can make it a highly effective detox agent. When viewed under a microscope, diatomaceous earth consists of tiny silica particles with rough, sharp edges. While these edges are not sharp enough to damage the inside of the human body, they are able to pass through the digestive system and scrape away any built up toxins as well as remove any built up food residue. The absorbent nature of diatomaceous earth also makes it highly effective for absorbing any pathogens and free radicals inside the body, as well as eliminating any parasites.

## Introducing Diatomaceous Earth Into Your Diet

If you’re interested in introducing diatomaceous earth into your diet, the easiest method is to add it to a glass of water first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. Although completely tasteless, some people find the gritty texture of diatomaceous earth uncomfortable, so you may want to consider mixing it with a fruit juice or smoothie. When beginning to supplement your diet with diatomaceous earth it’s best to start with a small amount, less than one teaspoon daily.

By slowly increasing your daily dosage of diatomaceous earth while observing the effects on your health it’s possible to determine the ideal serving size for your body. Most diatomaceous earth users choose to limit their consumption to a maximum of 3 teaspoons daily. When introducing a new supplement to your diet, it’s always best to proceed slowly while listening to your body, and always be sure to consult a health professional before beginning, especially if you’re currently on any medications or suffering from any health disorders.

When consuming diatomaceous earth for the first time, you may experience some flu like symptoms as the DE releases and flushes toxins and heavy metals from the body. While these symptoms should dissipate after a few days of continuous use, be sure to maintain a healthy diet rich in nutrients and dietary fiber to help the DE work. It’s important to remember to consume a minimum of eight glasses of water a day as DE is a desiccant and will absorb water content inside your body.

If any negative symptoms fail to dissipate or get worse, cease supplementing your diet with DE and consult a physician. Most users see significant health benefits within one week of beginning supplementation, but this can vary depending on the metabolic rate of the user.

### Diatomaceous Earth as an Organic Chemical Alternative

The absorbent and coarse properties of diatomaceous earth also make it a great replacement for many commonly used household products that contain harsh chemicals. The absorbent nature of DE makes it great for removing odors. Diatomaceous earth can be used as a deodorant, placed in the fridge to reduce moisture and smells, or even mixed with essential oils to prolong their lifespan.

Many people choose to mix diatomaceous earth in with their toothpaste to create an effective tooth whitening treatment. Diatomaceous earth is able to scrape away the built up plaque that causes teeth discoloration, but it’s important to use it sparingly as excessive use of this treatment can scrape away essential tooth enamel. The abrasive properties of DE can be used to make effective and chemical free scrubs for cosmetic use, as well as clearing away stains from tiles, bathtubs and kitchen surfaces.

Adding diatomaceous earth to grains, cereals and dry foods such as chicken feed or pet food is a great way to both supplement the diet with minerals and nutrients while at the same time preventing mold and pests. By replacing the powerful chemicals used in many of the products used around your home, it’s possible to create an organic, natural and healthy living environment.

### Diatomaceous Earth Pest Control

Outside of dietary and cleaning uses, diatomaceous earth is also a highly effective pest control tool and insecticide. The fine particulate composition of DE binds to the exoskeleton of common household pests like bedbugs, ants, cockroaches, spiders, ticks and lice, as well as common garden pests like aphids and caterpillars. Diatomaceous earth particles stick to the exoskeleton of insects and wears away the outer layer, drawing out the lipid oils inside. This has an intense dehydrating effect that kills insects within hours without the need for dangerous poisons or chemicals.

A major advantage of diatomaceous earth insecticides over traditional insect poisons is that it remains potent and effective without allowing bugs to develop a resistance. Combined with the highly cost effective nature of DE and the ability to treat your home yourself with no health risk, diatomaceous earth fast becoming one of the most popular ways to remove insect infestations from the home and garden.

### Diatomaceous Earth Health and Safety

While diatomaceous earth is organic, non toxic and inert, there are a few things to remember when using it. Ensuring you’ve chosen the correct grade of diatomaceous earth is the most important factor when using DE. It’s essential to use food-grade DE for any application involving ingesting or dietary supplementation and store it separately from pest-control grade diatomaceous earth. Pool grade diatomaceous earth should be stored external to the home, never used around food, pets or children, and clearly labeled.

Ingesting excessive amounts of diatomaceous earth can cause constipation or irregular bowel movements. A common cause that contributes to these symptoms is a failure to sufficiently water the body when supplementing the diet with DE, as it acts as a desiccant. To avoid these symptoms or treat them if they occur, reduce your dietary intake of diatomaceous earth and increase the amount of water you drink.

When handling pest control grade diatomaceous earth, be sure to gear up with the right safety equipment. Diatomaceous earth may be non-toxic but the fine particles can occasionally irritate the respiratory system, eyes and sensitive skin. Always be sure to wear protective goggles, gloves, and a dust mask when distributing large amounts of diatomaceous earth.

Always ensure you’re aware of the grade of diatomaceous earth you’re using for the task at hand. Finally, if you’re currently on any medication, suffering from any health disorders, pregnant or nursing, be sure to consult with a health professional to determine if it’s safe to incorporate into your diet.

## Bentonite Clay Explained

Bentonite clay offers many similar benefits to diatomaceous earth, but is actually very different in composition. Unlike diatomaceous earth, the name “bentonite clay” is somewhat more accurate, as it is a form of clay. Bentonite clay is composed of a type of volcanic ash called montmorillonite. Bentonite clay has been used as a traditional medicinal cure by many different cultures around the world, including Central African, Australian, and South American traditional medicine systems. Bentonite clay is mined from volcanically active regions and milled into a fine, light brown powder.

### Bentonite Clay Classification

Bentonite clay is typically divided into two different primary classifications- food grade bentonite clay and industrial grade bentonite clay. There are a small number of alternative classifications of bentonite clay with different mineral compositions, but they are generally only used in specific industrial and agricultural applications.

Industrial bentonite clay is composed of sodium bentonite. Used primarily for industrial applications, sodium bentonite is extremely absorbent and is used as a drilling mud, binder, purifying agent and groundwater barrier. Industrial bentonite is far too absorbent for the human body to consume, causing dangerous water retention and swelling in the intestinal tract.

Calcium bentonite is the form of bentonite clay used in dietary and cosmetic use, commonly known as food-grade bentonite clay. Containing far less sodium than industrial bentonite clay, calcium bentonite can be safely consumed and is classified as “Generally Regarded as Safe” by the FDA, safe for contact with food and drugs[3]. In a similar fashion to diatomaceous earth, be sure to use food-grade bentonite clay for any application involving ingestion or dietary supplementation.

### Applications and Benefits of Bentonite Clay

Much like diatomaceous earth, bentonite clay offers a wide number of health benefits and practical applications. Used in traditional medicine for thousands of years as a poultice and digestive aid, modern medical science has recently begun to prove the health benefits of bentonite clay through clinical trials. A 2010 study determined that bentonite clay can function as a highly effective antibacterial agent[4], while a more recent 2016 study demonstrated promising applications for bentonite clay in promoting cellular growth[5].

Bentonite clay is commonly prescribed by medical experts as a bulk laxative and has a wide number of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications. Users of bentonite clay commonly employ it as a treatment for skin conditions, as a hydrating bath, as a probiotic booster and as a digestive aid.

### Bentonite Clay as a Detox Tool and Health Supplement

Bentonite clay offers dual-action dietary supplement and health detox properties. One of the most common applications for bentonite clay is as a detox agent for boosting digestive health. Bentonite clay is coarse and absorbent in a similar fashion to diatomaceous earth, absorbing and removing built up toxins and heavy metals from the body. An advantage of bentonite clay has over diatomaceous earth for this application is a number of antibacterial and probiotic properties.

A 1998 study determined that bentonite clay is able to absorb dangerous viruses from the digestive system, such as rotavirus and coronavirus[6]. Combined with the ability to promote the growth of good gut bacteria, bentonite clay is a highly effective detox tool for improving overall digestive system health. One drawback to bentonite clay, however, is that it’s much smoother and less coarse than diatomaceous earth. This makes diatomaceous earth far more effective in scrubbing the insides of your digestive system than bentonite clay.

As a health supplement, bentonite clay offers a wide range of nutritional elements and essential minerals. Bentonite clay contains calcium, magnesium, sodium, copper and potassium, providing a great way to boost your intake of these critical elements. The binding properties of bentonite clay also make it a great supplement for balancing bowel movement consistency.

## Introducing Bentonite Clay to Your Diet

Bentonite clay, much like diatomaceous earth, is best taken on an empty stomach either first thing in the morning or between meals. The easiest method to supplement your diet with bentonite clay is to add one teaspoon of bentonite clay with a glass of water. This method is not as simple as diatomaceous earth supplementation, however, as bentonite clay has a tendency to expand in water and cause constipation and bloating if consumed immediately after mixing.

To reduce the digestive impact of consuming a raw bentonite clay mix, add one teaspoon of bentonite clay to a glass of water and let it sit for one hour before consumption. This allows the bentonite clay to expand outside of the body. After infusing into water, a bentonite clay mix will consist of a clear infused water mix with a large amount of clay sediment at the bottom. Most users choose to drink only the clear clay infused water at the top, leaving the sediment.

A second method for incorporating bentonite clay into your diet is by creating a bentonite clay gel. By mixing two parts water with one part bentonite clay powder and mixing thoroughly, the bentonite clay will absorb some of the water content and reach a paste consistency. The smooth paste resulting from creating a bentonite clay gel can be used in a bentonite clay water mix, or in any of the other various applications of this unique substance.

Detoxifying your body with bentonite clay can sometimes cause flu-like symptoms in a similar fashion to a diatomaceous earth detox. These symptoms usually dissipate after a few days, but if they continue or get worse be sure to dramatically reduce your bentonite clay intake and increase water intake. Just like diatomaceous earth, bentonite clay is a desiccant, so make sure you’re drinking at least eight glasses of water a day while supplementing your diet.

Aside from the clinically-proven health benefits of bentonite clay, the user-reported health benefits are varied and compelling. Bentonite clay users report an increase in digestive function and health, enhanced metabolic rates, an improved immune system, better skin, hair and nail health, and overall health and energy increases.

### Bentonite Clay First Aid

The antibacterial and cell-growth promoting properties of bentonite clay make it a great first aid treatment. Tribal cultures have traditionally used bentonite clay as a poultice for healing wounds for thousands of years, a practice that is beginning to be supported by modern medical science. Bentonite clay can be used to reduce skin irritation for insect bites, bee stings and minor cuts and scratches, as well as helping to speed up the healing process of scrapes and bruises.

When refrigerated, a bentonite clay gel can be used as an effective cooling treatment for kitchen burns. Other applications include using bentonite clay gel as a treatment for psoriasis and eczema or to reduce the symptoms of dermatitis.

### Bentonite Clay Bath Bombs

An external skin detox can be performed with bentonite clay, drawing toxins and dirt out of the skin to leave it renewed and refreshed. Many of the cosmetic signs of premature aging are caused by poor skin health and a buildup of toxins and heavy metals. By adding 1 cup of bentonite clay powder to a bath to create a bentonite clay bath bomb, the clay will bind to the toxins that are dispelled from your skin, lessening inflammation and promoting faster healing of skin damage. Consider adding a few drops of essential oil to your bentonite clay bath bomb to create a luxurious scented experience.

### Bentonite Clay Health & Safety

While there are many user-reported health benefits to using bentonite clay as a dietary supplement and a huge body of articles online that recommend its use, it’s important to remember that the FDA has not as yet endorsed bentonite clay as a dietary supplement. If you’d like to compare the difference between diatomaceous earth and bentonite clay, always make sure you try one at a time and do not consume both at once.

Bentonite may cause constipation in some users as it has a tendency to expand when exposed to water. If you experience constipation or irregular bowel movements while supplementing your diet with diatomaceous earth, it can be caused by either consuming too much unsaturated bentonite clay at once, or not drinking enough water. To reduce and prevent these symptoms, decrease your bentonite clay intake, ensure you’re allowing enough time for your bentonite water mix to soak, and increase your water intake.

# The Verdict: Cost, Applications and Versatility

If you’re trying to decide between diatomaceous earth and bentonite clay as a dietary supplement, one of the primary factors to consider is price. Diatomaceous earth is more than half the price of bentonite clay, at an average of just $3.70 USD per pound compared to$8.20 USD per pound.

Overall, whether you’re seeking dietary supplement, detox agent or pest control tool, diatomaceous earth offers a wider range of applications and health benefits, making it the more cost effective choice of the two. While you may want to consider bentonite clay for medicinal purposes to treat bites, wounds and burns, diatomaceous earth is the clear winner in all other categories.

### Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I take Bentonite Clay and Diatomaceous Earth at the same time?
A: While bentonite clay and diatomaceous earth both offer potential health benefits, it’s not recommended to take both at the same time as consuming excessive amounts of either substance can cause bloating and constipation.

Q: Can I use Bentonite Clay as a pest control agent?
A: Bentonite clay does not have the ability to adhere to insect exoskeletons and dehydrate them. Diatomaceous Earth is the best option for pest control of the two substances.

Q: Can Bentonite Clay or Diatomaceous Earth be used while on X medication?
A: As both bentonite clay and diatomaceous earth are both highly absorbent, they may reduce the efficiency of prescription medications. Always consult a health professional before supplementing your diet with diatomaceous earth or bentonite clay, especially while taking medication.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9533930

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17435951

[3] http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/GRAS/SCOGS/ucm260870.htm

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2904249/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26849195

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9850994

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