Made from fossilized algae, diatomaceous earth is a sandy substance that has multiple benefits and uses. Although primarily known for lawn care, this rock powder offers many other useful home applications. So, how do you use diatomaceous earth in your home? Is diatomaceous earth really safe? Are there diatomaceous earth side effects? This blog will answer those and other questions to help you decide if it’s something that can benefit you.
What Is Diatomaceous Earth Used For?
What is diatomaceous earth? DE comes from the skeletons of aquatic organisms called diatoms. In addition to its uses for pest control or soil treatment, people use diatomaceous earth internally and externally. For example, you can use it to remove dead skin cells or clean your teeth. Some people take it by mouth as a supplement. Although you should discuss DE with your doctor before taking it orally, there may be potential benefits. People take it to treat constipation or high cholesterol. It’s also believed to support healthier hair, skin, teeth, nails, and bones.
Uncommon Uses of Diatomaceous Earth
Indoors, DE is a helpful deodorizer, an abrasive cleaning agent, and a dry food preservative. With outdoor applications, it's also used as a natural insecticide. For example, people often use it to control fleas on the lawn. Although veterinarians advise against using food safe DE on pets themselves, it can kill fleas when applied on some indoor surfaces. You can use diatomaceous earth for plants inside your home as well. Some people also use food grade diatomaceous earth as a detox source.
How Does Diatomaceous Earth Work?
Before diving into the many uses, it helps to know how DE works. Something that can kill bugs may not sound safe to ingest at first. However, once you understand how it works and the different types, its uses make more sense. Diatomaceous earth for pest control is like a scratchy dust. This makes it cut into the exoskeletons of bugs, which causes them to dehydrate and die. Because diatomaceous earth powder is abrasive, health experts recommend using safety gear to protect your eyes and lungs. Use goggles and a dust mask when you use DE powder for home or outdoor applications.
The DE that you can eat or use topically is called food safe diatomaceous earth. Be sure that any supplement or DE product you intend to ingest is marked as such. Although several studies show potential health benefits of food safe DE, how it works in the body isn't well understood. Because DE doesn't digest, it passes through the digestive tract unchanged in form. It's approved by the FDA. While it doesn't appear to damage the digestive tract, remember that the dust can irritate the lungs. Even food grade DE can potentially scar lung tissue when inhaled.
Food-Safe Diatomaceous Earth: What It Is and How to Use It
Food grade DE has about 0.5% to 2% crystalline silica. Alternately, filter grade or industrial DE has more than 60% crystalline silica, which is toxic for mammals. How to use it depends on what you want to do. Here are a few common examples.
You can add food grade DE to grains, flour, corn, and other dry foods. It can help prevent mold and pest infestations during storage. For every pound of food in the container, use about a teaspoon of DE. Sprinkle it at the bottom of the container.
Oral Human Supplement
Currently, there are no consistent guidelines on dosing for diatomaceous earth for humans. Since not all substances are safe for every person based on varying health conditions, ask a doctor first. If your physician doesn't tell you not to take it, follow the manufacturer's recommendations on the package. These can vary between companies. Also, do some research to make sure you're buying high-quality products from trustworthy companies. This applies to topical use as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you apply diatomaceous earth?
Remember to follow diatomaceous earth safety precautions with a dust mask and goggles. When you apply it to indoor plants or a lawn, don't put it on flowering components. You can sprinkle it on the soil or lawn according to the package's instructions. When using it in a garden, keep in mind that it can also kill beneficial insects with exoskeletons.
How long does it take for diatomaceous earth to work?
For food safe diatomaceous earth, it's unknown how quickly people see health benefits if they do experience any. Everyone has different results. However, for pest control, the answer also varies for different types. Does diatomaceous earth kill ants quickly? Yes, it can kill them in as little as a day. It can take up to five days to work for bedbugs and a couple of weeks for beetles. Diatomaceous earth for fleas may take longer since they have multiple life cycles.
Can diatomaceous earth be used in swimming pools?
Some people use DE for pools. It's marked as either food grade or filter grade. Sometimes, filter grade is called pool grade because people use it instead of sand or cartridges. Studies show that it can be more effective in good filtration. If you use a DE filter for a pool, carefully read and follow all applicable instructions.
What bugs does diatomaceous earth keep away?
DE can kill roaches, fleas, aphids, slugs, and many other types of bugs. It can also kill silverfish, bedbugs, and all types of beetles. Remember that it's an insecticide and not necessarily a repellent.
How do you use diatomaceous earth in your home?
There are several benefits of diatomaceous earth in the home. For help with indoor pest control, sprinkle DE wherever you see pests. However, to reduce inhalation risks, make sure pets and small children can't reach it.
Many people turn to DE when they want to eliminate an unpleasant refrigerator mystery odor. Just put about half a cup in an open container and leave it in the fridge. You can also sprinkle DE in shoes, let it sit for a day, and vacuum it out. Another deodorizing technique is to put DE at the bottom of trash bags.
Does diatomaceous earth remove good bacteria?
How diatomaceous earth works in the body and what it does aren't well understood. While some sources claim it won't harm good bacteria, others suggest it may. Always talk to a doctor before consuming food grade DE for gut health or detox purposes.
Find Diatomaceous Earth at True Value
Now that you know the uses and benefits of diatomaceous earth, it's time to find the right products. Head to your nearest True Value store to stock up on diatomaceous earth and any protective gear you need to use it safely.