Diatoms – What Is Fossilized Algae Shell Flour & Diatomaceous Earth?


Coal, oil, and natural gas all have one thing in common: they are all made from the remains of plants or animals that died millions of years ago.

Although Diatomaceous Earth (DE) sounds more like an alternate form of our own planet, it actually is just the remains of a long dead fossilized algae organism and is known as “the grass of the sea” as all aquatic life forms feed and live off of this extremely versatile diatoms. The three resources listed previously are similar in origin to DE, yet different in composition and application.

Throughout the course of human history few substances have been as ignored and pushed to the side as Diatomaceous Earth. Nobody would have guessed that DE could be used in things such as dynamite, toothpaste, cosmetic products, pesticides, and water filtration systems while maintaining the same essential chemical composition.

Some minor changes in the refining process of DE determine how the particular sample of Diatomaceous Earth will be used. In this comprehensive fossil shell flour book the differences between the industrial and healthcare will be distinguished, and hopefully you will have gained a deep and fulfilling knowledge of the marvelous substance that is Diatomaceous Earth.

In order to understand the sophisticated substance that is Diatomaceous Earth, we must look at Diatoms, its industrial applications, its healthcare applications, and the possible harms it can present.


Diatomaceous Earth is the byproduct of millions of years of compaction on the remains of tiny Algae called Diatoms. These Diatoms range from .5 microns to 2.0 microns (the width of a human hair being only 1.0 micron) in width.

Although an individual Diatom is relatively tiny, they can be easily harvested when compiled in a large group. Diatomaceous Earth resembles baby powder when it is refined, but in nature it is found in a rock form. That rock is then ground down into a fine powder for most uses. When in its rock form DE is referred to as Diatomite.

Diatomaceous Earth and Diatomite are the same in terms of composition with the only difference between the two substances being that Diatomaceous Earth is a fine powder and Diatomite is a solid rock formation.


As mentioned earlier, Diatoms are classified as Algae, but their scientific name is still undetermined. Because Diatomaceous Earth is made out of many different species of Diatoms, it has been hard for even the best and brightest biological morphologists to pin down what to call the organisms that make up DE.

Many scientists are performing research and compiling data on Diatoms. These fascinating little organisms still have a lot to offer scientists, and there is a ton of research to be done on these intriguing forms of Algae.

Structure and Composition

The actual chemical composition of Diatomaceous Earth is where this substance gets really interesting. Diatoms had these shell like structures called frustules, and these frustules were made out of a chemical compound called silica (SiO2).

The frustules of these long dead diatoms are very porous and can absorb an extremely large amount of water. This high storage capacity is the most commonly utilized characteristic of Diatomaceous Earth.

These Diatoms are Eukaryotic (containing a nucleus) cells that were typically linked up with many other Diatoms in a mesh of organisms. They were linked together and kept from drifting apart by filaments.

This interconnectedness is the reason Diatomaceous Earth is mined in large deposits. Although they lived linked together in these large colonies, they reproduced asexually through the process of binary fission.

Industrial Application

Few substances lend themselves to as wide an array of uses as Diatomaceous Earth. This substance has a seemingly endless list of applications that range from being used on a farm to being the most crucial ingredient in the explosive known as TNT.

Although it comes from deposits of dead organisms from millions of years ago, this substance is now extremely useful in our increasingly modern society.

Diatomaceous Earth has been utilized for a wide array of industrial purposes. Its abrasiveness makes it exceptionally useful for cleaning. The porous nature of the substance allows DE to be used for soaking up water on an industrial scale.

It also has many unique properties that lend themselves to utilization by farmers and other individuals with a proclivity towards agriculture (look at what it does for animals feed in dogs, cats, cows, pigs, geese, duck, elk and horses).

The first historically noted discovery of this miracle substance was in 1836. A wealthy miner by the name of Peter Kasten stumbled across the substance and since then its uses are continually being discovered.

Some of its first uses surrounded non-anatomical purposes, and centered on manufacturing. Its actual first use was as a mild abrasive. Facial scrubs, toothpastes, and polish all began to rely heavily on this brand new substance that was very course and rough to grind substances on a microscopic level.

Notorious Chemist Alfred Nobel used DE as the essential part to his most infamous invention, Dynamite, using the mineral. Many other companies and inventors attempted to utilize the substance and over the years it saw many forms being employed in a long list of applications.


Although Alfred Nobel is very famous for the award that bears his name, his most important invention was dynamite. Before Nobel came along explosives were very unstable and could detonate by accident with any mild provoking.

Alfred Nobel attempted something revolutionary when he soaked a very porous and absorbent material in Nitroglycerine (the explosive part of dynamite) and then packed that together to form a stable and safe explosive. That material used to hold the Nitroglycerine was none other than Diatomaceous Earth.

Although Nobel made a much more important name for himself by creating the Nobel Prize, his initial fame came from his revolutionary invention. Had it not been for Diatomaceous Earth, dynamite would have been much more unstable.

It’s hard to imagine that such a simple and seemingly innocent substance can have such a profound impact on the course of human history. Its discovery and subsequent rise in popularity allowed it to become the modern miracle worker that it is today.

It might go unrecognized, but our modern world would not be the same if Diatomaceous Earth had never been introduced to the general public on the scale that it was.

Many more uses for Diatomaceous Earth exist and those are just as important as Nobel’s dynamite.


All humans need to drink water, and it is of the utmost importance that that water is relatively clean. Scientist, Wilhelm Berkefeld, first discovered that Diatomaceous Earth could be used to filter out contaminants from water.

Since this marvelous discovery Diatomaceous Earth has been used to clear water and make it suitable for human consumption.

The precise process by which contaminants are filtered out is a rather intriguing process. First of all, the aforementioned porosity of Diatomaceous Earth comes into play when examining how it is such a good filtration substance.

DE’s porosity and microscopic intricacies make it perfect for removing tiny particles and contaminants that would otherwise pass right through a paper or cloth filter. The microscopic intricacies are actually like tiny pockets that are able to store a lot of material, whether that be water or something else.

These pockets act as nets that trap contaminants in the Diatomaceous Earth so it can be removed easier. This innovation has been very beneficial to the health and wellbeing of humans all across the world.


Diatomaceous Earth gets is largest application in the agricultural industry. When growing large amounts of crops it is important that your crops not get eaten or damaged by certain pests or insects. Diatomaceous Earth, as mentioned earlier, is very porous and abrasive.

This particular property of the substance helps to kill and debilitate pests: making it a perfect pesticide. If a farmer sprinkles some Diatomaceous Earth on his crop after it has been planted it will prevent insects and pests from damaging the crop.

The insect can land on a leaf of the plant, but if there is some Diatomaceous Earth on the leaf then they insect will land on the extremely abrasive substance and be nearly torn to pieces. DE acts like sandpaper on the Insects delicate systems and organs.

If the pest is not immediately killed by the external damage that it takes then it will then have the added difficulty of breathing in and ingest the substance. In humans DE typically has a miniscule effect on us, but in small critters and insects the effect is much more deadly. DE gets in the internal systems of these organisms and tears them apart from the inside.

Although its use as a pesticide is often its most known use, it can also be used to prevent caking in grain and feed for livestock. Caking is essentially when a powder gets packed together in one large clump. This makes it harder for the distribution of whatever has been caked together.

By including DE the substance you are trying to prevent from caking will get continually ground up and shredded by the DE on a microscopic level. The DE once again acts like a microscopic sandpaper that helps farmers and owners of livestock.

DE can prove to be useful for the treatment worms in certain livestock. Farmers likely don’t have the time nor the money to take each individual animal to a veterinarian when they get worms, so the turn to the seemingly always useful substance of Diatomaceous Earth.

There have been mixed results as to how effectively DE actually removes worms and other internal bugs from cattle and livestock. Cattle are treated with DE more often than other livestock; however, studies on DE’s effectiveness in cattle have shown that the substance working as a dewormer is no more than a common wives tale of sorts.

Some concern is raised over the safety of DE when consumed. If you put the DE in animal feed the prevent caking there is no doubt that it will be consumed at least in parts by the livestock you are trying to feed. However, the FDA has approved this substance for animal consumption because it has virtually no ill effects on livestock. DE has many amazing properties, but its most utilized property is in the agricultural industry.

Healthcare Applications

Throughout human history we have always searched for miracle substances that are able to cure all of our ailments. Many substances that are advertised as a cure-all do not perform as well as advertised.

Diatomaceous Earth is commonly displayed as somewhat of a cure all; however, DE actually has some uses that are beneficial to human health. Although the claims made by some pharmaceutical companies about the healing properties are false, some real world applications and benefits do exist.

First of all, a few aspects of DE are employed when it is used for the promotion of human health. Its abrasiveness can be used in cleansing products and other aesthetic applications, and its porous nature lends itself to being able to help our bodies absorb nutrients and other essential substances.

Cosmetic Uses

One of the largest industries in the healthcare industry is cosmetics. The multi-billion dollar makeup industry feeds on individuals desire to wear makeup for a variety of personal reasons. DE is able to act as a mild abrasive not just on your skin, but also on your teeth in the form of toothpaste.

It’s recommended to brush your teeth 2-3 times a day, but what is actually going on when doing so? Well, in toothpaste containing DE (the vast majority of them) the actual chemical doing the dirty work is DE.

Once again the microscopic abrasiveness combats germs and microbes that survive in your teeth and mouth. In essence, DE is the hard worker in your toothpaste that is going to actually do the most to combat cavities and other oral maladies.

Not only can DE be perfect for your teeth, but it can also be used to improve one’s cosmetic features. DE is applied in a variety of ways to make an individual more physically presentable. One such use is Diatomaceous Earth’s application in facial scrubs and cleansers. Acne and general contaminants of your pores can be dealt with by facial scrubs.

DE is the primary ingredient of a lot of these scrubs because it is so abrasive on a microscopic level. DE makes the cleaning of your pores and skin very easy thanks to its abrasive nature on a microscopic level.

Internal Healthcare

When consumed, Diatomaceous Earth has a lot of benefit to be offered. It is one of the most abundant substances in your body because it can be used extensively by the body. It can help in the absorption of nutrients, and help in the promotion of a healthy skeletal system

Iron is a nutrient that comes in many foods that you consume on a daily basis; However Silica (the key component in Diatomaceous Earth) is more abundant in the human body than Iron. Although it is not much, an average of seven grams of silica are present in the human body at all times.

This abundance is no coincidence because silica plays a key role in your body’s everyday functions and maintenance.

As children we are told to drink lots of milk in order to gain calcium to make our bones stronger. Calcium is crucial in ensuring a strong skeletal system; however, that calcium is useless if your body is unable to absorb it efficiently.

This is where Diatomaceous Earth comes into play- it acts as an absorbent that is able to “catch” calcium for your bones. It does so by, once again, utilizing its extreme porosity to harvest a lot of material. The silica in the Diatomaceous Earth is able to absorb lots of calcium because it has a ton of storage capacity. If it weren’t for Diatomaceous Earth our bodies would gradually become less efficient at absorbing calcium and we would have much more profound skeletal discomfort and disease.

It’s not uncommon to see elderly individuals plagued with some sort of skeletal ailment, and in some cases this discomfort can be cured with a treatment involving the consumption of an elevated amount of Diatomaceous Earth. Once again, we see such a simple characteristic of a common substance coming to the rescue in a rather specific and unique situation that would otherwise be rather difficult to solve.

Not only can Diatomaceous Earth help us in terms of skeletal longevity, but it can also benefit human health in terms of absorbing other nutrients. By the same process exhibited in our skeletal system, we can see the silica in Diatomaceous Earth helping us be efficient at absorbing magnesium and potassium.

People who suffer with certain substance deficiencies need only increase their intake of Diatomaceous Earth. Discussion with your healthcare professional is always advised, but in many cases a doctor may provide a patient with Diatomaceous Earth to treat a deficiency in the body. Not only can DE help your bones and skeletal system, but it can also help your body overcome certain nutrient deficiencies in many cases.

Not only can DE lend itself to our benefit by cleaning our teeth, pores, and other common places where a body scrub may be applied, but it can also come to our benefit in terms of promoting healthy bones and negating the impacts of nutrient deficiencies in your body.


Having seen the savage nature with which Diatomaceous earth treats insects and other pests, concern is justly raised for the possible ill-effects this substance may have on the human body; however, there must be a firm distinction drawn between the types of Diatomaceous Earth that are used.

Two types of silica are available in diatomaceous earth. When DE is going to be used for human consumption the type of silica that will be present is amorphous. When used in an industrial environment, crystalline silica is going to be used in the diatomaceous earth rather than amorphous.


Amorphous silica is more refined and less abrasive than its crystalline counterpart. We derive this silica from the same diatomaceous earth, just through a different process. This type of DE is not deadly or harmful to humans and is typically just used as a mild abrasive.


Crystalline silica is much more harmful and poses more treat to humans than amorphous silica. As stated earlier, they come from the same Diatomaceous Earth. Crystalline silica is refined through a less rigorous process, thus keeping many of the original properties of Diatomaceous Earth in its raw form. Although it is only meant to be applied in industrial and agricultural situations, accidental can occur.

The crystalline silica in pesticides works great at riding fields of insects and other pests. Sadly, this same type of silica can have severe repercussions on the internal systems of humans when inhaled. In a study conducted on rats it was found that certain ailments and complications of the lungs can occur when exposed to crystalline silica for a prolonged period of time. The long term and short term effects of crystalline silica on the human body need more studying, but even with our preliminary knowledge on the subject we can easily tell that the human body does not fare well when exposed to Diatomaceous Earth containing crystalline silica.


The remains of some Diatoms have proven to provide us with a very important substance. Although they are microscopically tiny, these organisms have left behind their fossilized remains in the form of Diatomaceous Earth. This Diatomaceous Earth has proven to be extremely useful over the course of human history. From explosives to toothpaste we have seen that

When analyzing Diatomaceous Earth’s impact on our world, it is easy to overlook just how large of an impact it has had on our modern society. Although it may seem like doctors and television advertisements attempting to pedal their wares may mention Diatomaceous Earth in an attempt to persuade you to buy something, it actually has many real world applications that are commonly overlooked and undervalued in favor of other substances.

After having read this comprehensive book you have hopefully developed a diversified and deep understanding of the marvelous substance that is Diatomaceous Earth.

Diatomaceous Earth Information Guide:

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