What is Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth vs Regular Diatomaceous Earth?


Food grade diatomaceous earth is the most pure and versatile form of this unique substance. With many applications from use as health supplement or detox agent to facial scrub or bath bomb, diatomaceous earth is one of the most cost effective products to use in your home. Before purchasing or using diatomaceous earth, however, there are a few things to know to make sure you’re getting the right product. In this article we’ll outline the basics of diatomaceous earth and dispel some of the most common misconceptions around it.

What Makes Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth Different?

Food grade diatomaceous earth is the purest grade of diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth, or DE, is a silica mineral deposit that is mined from the remains of ancient fossilized plant life. Consisting mainly of tiny silica crystals, diatomaceous earth in its raw form is completely inert, chemical free and neutral.

The various different grades of diatomaceous earth are made by subjecting the substance to different treatments such as extremely high temperatures or by mixing them with other chemicals.

Non-food grade diatomaceous earth such as pest control diatomaceous earth is commonly mixed by many companies with dangerous toxins. This mix may make the product more effective, but renders it unsafe for human consumption.

Other grades of DE, such as pool grade DE, are subjected to treatments that cause the silica content to crystallize, creating a substance that functions as a highly efficient filter but is exceptionally dangerous to handle. These tiny silica crystals can cause serious damage to the respiratory system and should never be confused with food grade diatomaceous earth.

Food grade diatomaceous earth is DE that has been mined from the ground, pulverized, but left otherwise untouched. This form of diatomaceous earth is approved by the FDA and holds a GRAS or generally regarded as safe status. When selecting a diatomaceous earth product for either consumption or topical application, always be sure to double check the label for a food grade classification.

How Should Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth Be Handled?

Food grade diatomaceous earth may be completely inert and food safe, but there are a number of precautions that should be kept in mind when handling it. Food grade diatomaceous earth consists of an extremely fine white powder. This powder has the propensity to remain suspended on air currents if inadvertently spilled, potentially irritating sinuses, eyes or the respiratory tract.

If you’ve accidentally spilled diatomaceous earth and it has entered your eye, rinse with cold water as soon as possible. If the irritation persists it’s important to see a medical professional, but as there are no chemicals that can damage the body in DE this shouldn’t be the case.

Diatomaceous earth can be used for the same applications as pest control diatomaceous earth, but if you’re distributing diatomaceous earth around your house in large amounts always be sure to wear appropriate safety gear. Gloves, a dust mask and safety goggles should suffice for safety precautions when dispersing bulk amounts of DE.

Mixing diatomaceous earth with water is a great way to minimize the potential irritant hazard of the substance. If you’re only applying small amounts of diatomaceous earth around your home, mixing ¼ of a cup of diatomaceous earth with three cups of water makes a spray solution that can be easily spread around the house with no risk of irritation.

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth as a Health Supplement

Millions of people all around the world are beginning to turn to diatomaceous earth as a health supplement. Rich in silica, diatomaceous earth has been demonstrated in multiple clinical trials to lower blood cholesterol levels[1], reduce or reverse the effects of hair loss[2], and offer many other health benefits. User-reported health benefits of diatomaceous earth include higher energy levels, increased metabolic rates, improved ligament and joint health and even a reduction in the symptoms of inflammatory disease such as arthritis.

The coarse molecular structure of diatomaceous earth makes it a great tool for cleansing the digestive system. Many people use diatomaceous earth as a detox supplement to remove built up toxins and pathogens from their bodies, flushing away heavy metals and chemicals. Supplementing your diet with diatomaceous earth is easy- most people choose to take a teaspoon of DE every morning in a glass of water on an empty stomach.

Diatomaceous earth, in addition to cleaning the digestive system and supplying the body with silica, also provides a number of trace minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

Diatomaceous earth is completely inert, but some users find the gritty texture unpalatable. To reduce this sensation it’s possible to mix your daily dose of diatomaceous earth with fruit juice, milk, or into a smoothie.

As diatomaceous earth is highly absorbent, it’s best to refrain from eating for up to one hour after consuming diatomaceous earth to allow it to work. Bear in mind that while the FDA has not expressly endorsed diatomaceous earth as a daily health supplement, there is a wide body of clinical and user-reported evidence supporting the health benefits of this dynamic substance.

Use Diatomaceous Earth as a Pet Health Supplement

The health benefits of diatomaceous earth aren’t limited to humans. Many species of larger dogs, such as dobermans and great danes or highly active breeds such as border collies are susceptible to joint pain and arthritis. The high mineral content of diatomaceous earth can help prevent joint disorders and arthritis in these animals. Both cats and dogs are also prone to gut parasites, which diatomaceous earth can quickly and effectively treat.

Supplementing your pet’s diet with diatomaceous earth is as simple as adding a small dose of diatomaceous earth to their food. For detailed instructions on supplementing your pet’s diet with DE, see our article on Diatomaceous Earth as a Health Supplement for Cats or how to Improve Your Dog's Health With Diatomaceous Earth.

Always Purchase Diatomaceous Earth From a Trusted Source

As there are so many different grades of diatomaceous earth, it’s important to make sure you’re sourcing your DE from a reputable provider. Many diatomaceous earth suppliers don’t adhere to strict labeling or production methods, so always be sure to research the provider you’re ordering diatomaceous earth from extensively before purchase.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9533930
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882/

Diatomaceous Earth Information Guide:

We have a wide variety of food grade diatomaceous earth resources for you look through to make your life a little easier and chemical-free. Please check out the other valuable resources and versatile application uses for silica-rich diatomaceous earth below:

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