What is Diatomaceous Earth:
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is the fossilized remains of waterborne diatoms and algae. DE is mined product…wonder if the job description is “fossil miner?” DE has the consistency of and looks like an off-white version of baby or talcum powder. DE is non-toxic and is sold in both food and non-food grades (see warning below about pool filter DE). While DE is mammal safe (even to eat if food grade) wear a mask while handling it as you wouldn’t want DE to get into your lungs. WARNING: Don’t use DE sold as pool filter media for any other purpose as the silica count is too high and breathing this DE in particular could create health issues).
DE’s primary use is for organic, non-toxic pest control. I discovered DE years ago as a heaven sent solution to keep my wife happy…you see she went back and forth on whether she hated the ants invading our house or the poisons I sprayed to keep the ants out more. The product works by scratching up the exoskeleton of insects so that they dehydrate and die. Here are the Top 10 ways to use (food grade and only food grade) DE:
- Grain Storage: Food grade DE has been used for centuries to keep stored grain pest free. According to Diatomite Canada the proper mix is 1 cup of food grade DE to 50 lbs of grain. It can even be ground with the grain into meal or flour and you’ll never notice it in the final product (bread, muffins, cereal, etc.).
- Construction: Any time I build a wall I spread a good amount of DE along the 2×4 base before closing up the drywall for permanent, non-toxic pest control. If I have to open up a wall or repair drywall I dump in a few scoops as well. We’re fortunate that we’ve never had a cockroach infestation…and I intend to keep it that way.
- Ant Barrier: My favorite use is as an ant barrier because it keeps my wife happy…and if the wife is happy, everybody’s happy. Simply sprinkle your DE around the foundation where you see the ants trooping in and your ant problems are over. You will need to refresh the DE periodically…I just wait until I see the little ant scouts inside the house again.
- Gardening: Keep pests away from your garden plants. You can dust your garden plants and spread food grade DE around the plant bases to keep bugs and slugs off.
Flea Control: Hate the thought of putting a poison collar on your dog…just dust Fido’s coat with DE periodically.
- Mite Control: The same technique you use with Fido can also control chicken mites.
- Livestock: Mixing food grade DE into your livestock (or pet) feed can purportedly deworm the animal. Talk with your veterinarian about the most effective way to do this and most appropriate ‘dosage.’
- Health Benefits: Many people attribute health benefits to the consumption of food grade DE. Purported health benefits are colon cleansing, parasite control (works for the animals, right?), and detoxification. I’ve read that the best way to ingest DE is by adding a little food grade DE to a glass of juice. Food grade DE is safe, but my guess is that a little goes a long way. Discuss potential health benefits and ‘dosing’ with your doctor before starting a regimen.
- Longevity: While I’m a DE devote…I’m more than a bit skeptical of the purported longevity benefits. Once again, consult your doctor before starting a regimen…and who’s going to know if it works anyway?
- Bedding Pest Control: DE can be added to livestock and pet bedding to control bugs including fleas. DE also kills bedbugs but I’m not letting anyone put it in my sheets.
Buying Diatomaceous Earth:
DE is cheap, but it’s heavy… so buy it locally if you can. I bought DE by mail order for many years before I found a local feed store that would carry if for my. I always buy in 50 lbs bags…the best places to find it are feed stores and garden centers. If you can’t buy locally you’ll end up spending (as of this writing) about $23 for your 50 lbs bag through online mail order but that’s before delivery charges. ONLY BUY FOOD GRADE DE…it’s so inexpensive that there’s no reason to purchase non-food grade and take a chance of getting it mixed up with your food grade DE.
DE’s millions of years old so you know it’s not going to go bad on you…stock up!