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Diatomaceous Earth

Updated on July 17, 2012
Magnified Live Diatoms
Magnified Live Diatoms

Diatomaceous earth definitely has an intimidating sound to it. You should not be fearful of it though - diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring substance that has a very wide range of uses in our everyday lives.

Diatomaceous earth, also called diatomite, is a substance that forms in nature through the fossilization of diatoms which are actually a time of algae. As the diatoms fossilize, they form into a sedimentary rock that easily crumbles into powder in your hand.

Diatomaceous Earth Uses

Diatomaceous earth uses include a myriad of things ranging from pest control to cat litter to a nutritional supplement. It has also been used for medical research, in dynamite and as an insulator.

The two most common uses for diatomaceous earth are for pest control and as a nutritional supplement for animals.

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Food grade diatomaceous earth has been used in an agricultural setting for many years. The FDA has even approved it as a feed supplement for animals. Because diatomaceous earth absorbs liquids easily, it is often used in structures that store grains and other harvested items in order to prevent water from ruining the food.

Many farmers use food grade diatomaceous earth with their livestock because it acts as a dewormer. Many people prefer livestock which was raised using food grade diatomaceous earth instead of synthetic poisons as it provides an organic, all-natural way to enhance the health of livestock.

Diatomaceous Earth for Pest Control

Many people use diatomaceous earth for pest control since it is all-natural and safe to use around children and household pets. Some of the most common pests that diatomaceous earth is used on are fleas, spiders and bedbugs.

Diatomaceous earth works as pest control because of the absorbent properties of the powder. When pests come in contact with the substance, the diatomaceous earth absorbs the lipids from the exoskeleton (the outside shell) of insects causing them to dehydrate and die.

It is common to see someone purchase diatomaceous earth for fleas and it can easily be spread throughout carpet, furniture or anywhere else in the house that fleas can hide.

Spiders can easily be kept out of your home by using diatomaceous earth (check out my Hub about home remedies to keep spiders out of the house). All you need to do for these pests are sprinkle the powder around doorways, windows and other places where spiders would enter your home.

A third common pest control application is to use diatomaceous earth for bed bugs (I also have a Hub that answers the question, "What can I do about bed bugs?"). Sprinkling diatomaceous earth on your mattress will help keep bed bug infestations at bay.

Where to buy Diatomaceous Earth

If you are looking for where to buy diatomaceous earth, then it is important to specify whether you are looking for standard, pest control grade product, or if you are looking for the higher quality, food grade version.

Pest control grade diatomaceous earth can be purchased at just about any local hardware, pest control, or do-it-yourself store.  It is relatively inexpensive when compared to other synthetic pesticides that the store will have to offer.

If you want to buy food grade diatomaceous earth you will want to look to either farm supply or natural foods stores.  Both should be able to provide you with quantities of food grade diatomaceous earth that will work for your needs.

A lot of people find it easier to buy diatomaceous earth online as there are many reputable sources, including Amazon, that can provide both pest control and food grade diatomaceous earth, often for prices cheaper than brick and mortar locations.


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