You may have heard of diatomaceous earth being used as a nontoxic pesticide, natural supplement, or both.
But what exactly is this stuff and is it really safe to use around your family or pets?
Keep reading to get your questions answered.
Note: I am not a doctor and this is for informational purposes only. Please do your own research.
What Is Diatomaceous Earth?
Ok, let me get a little scientific with you here.
It’ won’t last long because this is about as deep as I can get.
But so you can fully understand what Diatomaceous Earth is we need to start with a Diatom.
Diatom is the name given to a classification of tiny, one-celled aquatic creatures that behave as both plant and animal.
You have likely heard of algae and plankton.
Diatoms are a micro-sized version of these – microalgae, and phytoplankton are their respective terms.
If you have ever seen a jelly-like or scum-like substance collecting in and around rocks, sticks, plants or other objects that are submerged in water, you can bet that it’s probably teeming with these minuscule life forms, diatoms.
The word “diatom” refers to these creatures having a top and bottom half, like a capsule or container with a lid that can be opened – similar to a sea shell on the beach, but microscopic in size.
Diatom remains are easily crumbled into a powder, which becomes diatomaceous earth.
If you still need to buy diatomaceous earth look for it in my Amazon Shop
Look for a brand that includes a nifty duster that I wish I had bought when I got mine.
Two Types Of Diatomaceous Earth
One type contains a much higher concentration of silica and larger particle size, which makes it toxic to humans and not fit for consumption or to inhale.
This type of diatomaceous earth is used in pool filters and water purification systems for its filtration ability.
The other type of diatomaceous earth is food grade which means it can safely be consumed by humans and animals, as the particles are finer.
Food-grade diatomaceous earth can be used as a non-toxic pesticide that is safe to use around humans and pets, and effective against insects that have an exoskeleton, including ants, cockroaches, bed bugs and crickets.
Food grade diatomaceous earth can also be used exactly as the title implies.
It is safe to eat and is said to benefit the body in numerous ways.
Many health-conscious individuals take diatomaceous earth as a daily supplement to rid the system of accumulated toxins and help fight illness.
Diatomaceous Earth As A Pesticide
Even after the development of all types of powerful chemical pesticides, none can compare to the effectiveness of all-natural, non-toxic, abundant and affordable diatomaceous earth.
Why is this?
It’s because of the nature of DE as a substance.
Most pesticides are designed to break down the organ system of the insect, with the majority of them being neurotoxins.
The insect is lured by the scent of bait which contains the poison.
He must then eat the poison-containing bait.
The problem with this is that if there is something better available, the bugs may not go for the bait.
The other problem is that neurotoxins, like all man-made substances that kill bugs, viruses and bacteria, can cause the insects to adapt and become immune, so that the poison no longer works on them.
Diatomaceous earth works as a pesticide by basically getting under the skin of the insects.
The tiny, microscopic-sized particles pierce the outer casing of bugs that have an exoskeleton, such as ants, cockroaches, and crickets, and drying out their innards.
How Does This Happen?
Remember that diatomaceous earth resembles tiny, sharp-edged encasements of glass when viewed under a microscope – like little glass shells, jars and boxes.
(And actually, the naturally occurring silicone that shows up in diatomaceous earth, makes up real glass that we use in our everyday life.)
So when this powder comes into contact with insects, the particles manage to wedge their way under the insects’ hard outer shell and effectively kill them.
While some say that diatomaceous earth works by drying the insect and other say that it literally shreds their bodies, one thing is clear: it works as an insecticide, while remaining totally safe for use around humans, including children and babies, and pets.
How To Use Diatomaceous Earth For Ants, Bed Bugs, Cockroaches And Crickets In Your Home
DE isn’t hard to use but here are a few guidelines.
1)Vacuum the area and all exposed surfaces
Remember to remove and dispose of the vacuum bag immediately, so that insects won’t be likely to reproduce in there, to emerge later and reinfest your home.
From time to time you’ll need to clean the dust and debris from your home by vacuuming it up.
Each time you do this, you’ll want to reapply the diatomaceous earth for continued protection against insect invaders.
2)Prepare To Apply The Diatomaceous Earth
If you’ve purchased a bag of it in bulk, then you’ll want to portion some out so that you’ll have more control over where the dust goes and to avoid spills.
Remember that what looks like a very small amount of powder to humans would actually seem like a huge mountain to a tiny insect.
Studies of diatomaceous earth have shown that if you use too much of it, the insects won’t walk through it; they will actually re-route themselves to avoid what appears to be a large obstacle or hill.
So if your goal is to make the insects who have invaded your home come into direct contact with diatomaceous earth, then you want to add an extremely light dusting of it to the cracks and crevices that they come in from the outside.
This includes baseboards, cracks in the walls and floor, window ledges, and other good hiding spots where insects may live and breed.
You’ll also want to apply it to carpets, area rugs, couches, mattresses, and other spots where insects might be likely to lay their eggs.
Again, thorough vacuuming of all surfaces should be the prerequisite to applying DE in and around your home.
3) Apply Diatomaceous Earth
a) Simply sprinkle some onto the carpet or bare floor and sweep in using a broom or similar brush.
Tapping and making circles with the bristles of the brush will enable you to work the substance in more completely.
b) Purchase a diatomaceous earth duster, which essentially emits a puff of air containing a trace amount of the tiny DE particles.
Just use a spoon or measuring cup to scoop out some DE into the receptacle.
Place the cap on (a piece of hollow tubing will be attached).
When you need to apply, just squeeze the container and a puff of DE dust will whiff out.
Use a small brush to evenly coat surfaces.
Related: How to kill bugs with essential oils.
Where Should You Dust With Diatomaceous Earth?
Try to view your home through the eyes of an insect before applying DE as a non-toxic pesticide.
Where would tiny critters be likely to travel, sleep and reproduce?
Brush an extremely light dusting of DE in the following places:
• Between your floorboards
• On window sills
• On the surfaces of shelves
• Along the walls and in corners
• In cracks and crevices in the walls and floor
• Inside drawers and cabinets
One neat trick to use when applying DE (diatomaceous earth) as a pesticide is to use it as a barrier to prevent insects from entering your home or a specific room of your home.
Bed bugs, for example, tend to start in one area and then migrate.
So if a family member has brought them in from the outside and now appears to be accumulating bed bug bites during sleep, you can stop these nasty critters from migrating to another person’s bedroom by dusting the entranceways so that they will avoid walking there.
Seal up the cracks
Additionally, DE will be more effective against bed bugs, ants, crickets and other pets if you seal up the openings where these critters enter your home.
Purchase crack sealant and apply to spaces in the window frames, walls, along baseboards and in the floorboards.
This way, you can use the diatomaceous earth to eliminate insects that have already entered your home, and also prevent future insect invaders from coming in.
One possible solution, if you have breathing problems that make you susceptible to mild lung irritants like DE, is to run an essential oil diffuser or room humidifier as a final step after applying diatomaceous earth to your home, office or other space.
You can also purchase a fine-mist spray bottle.
Mist the area to clear the air of tiny particles.
How To Use Diatomaceous Earth In Your Garden
Luke at Migardener.com has so much information about how to use diatomaceous earth in your garden.
A few things Luke mentions in this video that are important:
- It is not good for fungus on plants
- It is not a broad-spectrum insecticide
- It is best for kill arthropods
- It can kill ladybugs
- Use it on beetles, rolly polys, fleas, wasps, and mites
Is Diatomaceous Earth Dangerous To The Lungs?
There are some concerns and confusion around diatomaceous earth’s effects on the lungs.
The primary component of this fine powder that can cause trouble breathing, is silica or silicon hydroxide.
However, a small amount accidentally inhaled, while temporarily causing some minor irritation, does not pose a significant health risk.
This is because the silicone composition of food-grade DE is extremely low.
Remember also that an extremely light application is enough.
If you can actually see the dust, it’s probably too much and the insects you’re trying to get rid of will make their way around the hills of DE rather than walk through it, which is what you want.
Diatomaceous Earth as a Natural Supplement
As more and more people search for solutions for their chronic health issues, they discover that what’s old is what’s new in the world of alternative medicine and holistic healing.
Food grade diatomaceous earth is available in powder and capsule form, to be used as a daily dietary supplement.
Health Benefits Of Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is currently trending as a health supplement that is purported to heal and strengthen the body and increase longevity.
Some cite this miracle substance as having the ability to detoxify the body and preserve youth if taken internally on a routine basis.
Diatomaceous Earth Is Said To Aid In The Following:
Healing leaky gut syndrome and other digestive disorders.
When bad bacteria enter the digestive system, they break down the nutrition that was meant for our bodies to use. What is left is the waste, which then breaks down further, leaving us even more vulnerable to infection and disease.
Diatomaceous earth improves digestion by ridding the stomach and intestinal lining of yeast, viruses and harmful bacteria, and allowing friendly bacteria to re-colonize.
Remineralizing the body by way of trace elements that are present in the shells of these once-living aquatic creatures.
The exact mineral makeup of the diatomaceous earth will depend on where it is sourced from, such as sea versus freshwater diatoms.
Removing heavy metals from the body.
Diatomaceous earth is said to be a chelating agent, which means it can help to reduce the number of heavy metals present in our bodies.
Heavy metals enter our bodies by various means such as chemical pesticides in our drinking water, aluminum & mercury from vaccinations, using antiperspirant, eating fatty fish such as tuna and salmon, and having amalgam tooth fillings.
Ridding the body of viruses, fungi, and bacteria.
Diatomaceous earth is made up of aquatic creatures such as microalgae and phytoplankton, both of which fight free radicals and help control the overpopulation of viruses, bacteria and germs in nature, and certainly inside of our bodies.
Boosting immunity naturally.
All of the previously mentioned consequences of taking diatomaceous earth have a positive effect on immune function.
With the body cleared of viruses, fungi, heavy metals, and other toxins, and with a balance of minerals added by way of this miraculous natural substance, the immune system is able to perform better, working hard to fight disease.
How To Take Diatomaceous Earth As Supplement
Up to 1/4 cup of diatomaceous earth can be safely consumed daily as a way to improve overall health.
It’s recommended to use it in a “10 days on, 10 days off” pattern as the body resets itself to make way for other forms of nutrition.
You can swallow several DE capsules or add it by the spoonful to a glass of water or other liquid such as juice or a smoothie, several times per day.
It is advised that diatomaceous earth on an empty stomach because it may interfere with the absorption of nutrients from your food.
Fun facts about diatomaceous earth:
Toothpaste was first made from diatomaceous earth.
The various shaped accumulations of tiny shells formed an abrasive powder that not only remove plaque buildup from the teeth but it also actually wore away the protective enamel.
After this, toothpaste companies felt compelled to come with a formula that was more effective at killing germs and removing tooth buildup without compromising the actual tooth.
• Limestone and petroleum both originate from diatoms.
• Cat litter formulas often contain diatomaceous earth, as it is highly absorbent.
• DE is present in dynamite sticks, functioning as a stabilizer.
Farmers add diatomaceous earth to their harvested grains, as a way of preventing bugs and pests from consuming the grain supply.
Think you will use DE in your home, garden or as a supplement?
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