Diatomaceous earth (DE) is the remains of microscopic one-celled plants (phytoplankton) called diatoms that lived in the oceans and lakes that once covered the western part of the US and other parts of the world. These deposits are mined from underwater beds or from ancient dried lake bottoms thousands of years old. This means, diatomaceous earth has an unlimited shelf life provided you keep it dry.
Diatomaceous earth is mined, milled, and processed into a myriad of types for a large variety of uses. Filtering and filler are two main uses but diatomaceous earth also ends up in paints, cosmetics, drugs, etc. Because the milling produces different sized and shaped particles, it is important not to use the filtering type for agricultural purposes.
Pool filter grade diatomaceous earth has been heat and chemically treated and will poison an animal or human who ingests it, so it is always of utmost importance to only obtain food grade diatomaceous earth to use in and around your household.
Diatoms (DE) are the grass of the oceans and lakes. Just as grass is the staple food of earth animals. Diatoms (algae) are the food of the ocean or fresh water grazers. Magnified 7000x, diatomaceous earth looks like spiney honeycombs.
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is mined from the purest of deposits. Out of 600 deposits in the U.S., only 4 of these deposits rate in purity by FDA standards to be labeled as "Food Grade."
Diatomaceous earth kills anything with an exoskeleton like fleas, ticks, mites, silverfish, roaches, bedbugs, earwigs, carpet beetles, centipedes, crickets, millipedes and ants. Diatomaceous Earth clings easily to bodies of insects as they walk or crawl over it. It absorbs/slices the waxy cuticle surrounding the insect, causing the insect to dehydrate and die. It works like a chemical but it’s NOT, so they cannot become immune/resistant to it like they do to a chemical.
Application consists of spreading it like pepper all over your home working it over your entire floor, under baseboards, couches, refrigerators and in all cracks and crevices. We personally just use our hands to spread it but there are dusters available or you could even use a powdered sugar shaker.
DE is a very fine powder which makes a fine dust in the air so you may want to wear a mask so you don't irritate your passageways. It is a messy product but it works. Once you have spread it, you just leave it down. It is safe for you and your pets to walk on. We recommend vacuuming at least every 3-5 days to stay on top of the problem. When you think that you’ve vacuumed up all the DE put more down and when you think the pests are gone do it again to make sure you get all the egg cycles! Just remember a little bit goes a long way so you don’t need a lot on the floor, one pound covers about 2400 sqft. Trust us we have used too much before and ruined our vacuum. Also remember that DE is a drying agent so it does dry out skin and hair but as we always say get rid of the pest and deal with dry skin as you go. If you are dealing with fleas then also make sure you are feeding it to your pets because they will have tapeworms from the fleas and the DE will get rid of them. Please refer to our page on consuming Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth.
External Applications For Livestock, Barns, Coops, Kennels, & Litter Boxes:
Deodorizing and absorption are natural functions of diatomaceous earth, so add to kitty litter to absorb odors and keep the litter box drier. Apply to moist kennel areas to reduce odors and dry the area.
A small amount of food grade DE applied to livestock water keeps the water fresh on hot summer days. The amount of DE you need to apply depends on the size and color of the water container and climate temperature. Start by experimenting with a small amount of DE in the water container and increase as/if needed.
Yard, Garden, & Landscape Applications: DE's minerals are great for the yard and gardens. If you are dealing with Fleas or Ticks on the inside of your house then you definitely want to spread it in patios and on the outside of your house too.
Food grade diatomaceous earth is great for compost piles, to control odors. It will not harm earthworms, provided you just apply to the top of the compost or worm farm soil. The earthworms will slowly work the DE into the soil making them healthier, as well as the soil. Of course, if you put the earthworms in a bucket of DE, it will dehydrate them.
- DE manufacturers who work in diatomaceous earth mines 5 days/week advise inhaling it is not a problem and we have not had problems when inhaling DE in small amounts.
- IF you have asthma or some other lung ailment, either wear a mask or be very careful when using food grade diatomaceous earth.
- Do NOT get diatomaceous earth in the eyes. DE is drying to the eyes
- NEVER use pool filter grade or any diatomaceous earth other than those labeled "Food Grade" for yourself or your animals. It can poison or kill them.
- Do Not use to heavily in your house, you will ruin your vacuum.
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