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What is Diatomaceous Earth?

What is Diatomaceous Earth you ask?  Lets take a journey to learn how it was formed and what specifically it is.  When someone asks what is diatomaceous earth, we want to provide you with the best information regarding diatomaceous earth that you can access online.  If you have further questions about what Diatomaceous Earth is that has not been covered below, feel free to contact us with the button below.

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Diatomaceous Earth is the fossilized remains of diatoms.  Diatoms are single celled plants that are naturally occuring in all fresh and salt water bodies.  Diatomaceous Earth forms by diatoms absorbing the mineral content within a water body to form a shell around their cell membrane.  These diatoms, in this particular case, absorbed a high amount of silica and low amount of metals within this particular body of water in the Reno, NV region of the United States.  Over thousands of years, these diatoms build up on top of each other forming a huge fossilized deposit.  As a result, these diatoms formed when dinosaurs roamed the earth!  Now, the diatom itself is a particular one called the Aulacoseira diatoms created in the Miocene Epoch.

How Diatomaceous Earth Forms


The shell formed around the diatom’s cell is considered to be primarily amorphous silica.  Its shape and hardness have everything to do with how it works.  It hardness keeps it from dissolving like other hard minerals.  The diatom’s tubular shape and holes along the diatom’s wall allow it to absorb moisture, hence its use as an anti-caking agent


Firstly, the important tubular shape of the diatom gives more surface area compared to other shaped diatoms.  Which means it has greater absorptive capacity with the holes that open to the center.  This allows the diatom to absorb unwanted fungus and bacteria within the gut!  

Lastly, Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is almost all silica at 89% and is pure white to off-white in color, showing its purity.  There are other mines of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth here in the US and world.  You will find other mines, surprisingly,  have a product almost grey or red in color.  Having higher amounts of iron and other metals is hazardous to ingest.  Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is OMRI organic.

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is Not Sand or Glass

The most common thing in the sand is crystalline silica and is usually in the form of quartz, which, because of its hardness, really does not weather through thousands of years.  Many mines of diatomaceous are not rated food grade because of the high amount of quartz or crystalline silica found within its diatoms.  Crystalline silica is not meant to ingest and will cause problems if animals eat it.  Amorphous silica is better for ingestion and found that some of the silica can be absorbed into the blood stream to help with silica supplementation with animals. 


Beach sand is mostly made of a varying weathered material from inland rocks and transported to the beach via wind, rain, rivers, and/or shells and other hard parts precipitated out of the ocean water by marine organisms.  Quartz is the main component of glass making and crystalline silica or quartz will make a clear and hard glass.  Quartz is a hard and white or colorless mineral consisting of silicon dioxide, found widely in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks.  It is often colored by impurities (as in amethyst, or citrine)

Fresh Water vs Salt Water Diatomaceous Earth

Fresh water deposits like ours have a consistent diatom presence.  Their fossilized shells have maintained their tubular structure.  This shape and strength of the fossil shell are critical to its effectiveness.  Our deposit has 89-92% amorphous silica content.  This deposit is also more consistent in its purity.  A fresh water deposit in the mountains, such as ours, formed when snow was pure and its run off provided the water source these diatoms lived in.  Salt water deposits contain a mix of types of diatoms of different shapes.  Their fossilized shells are fragile and break easily.  This renders them ineffective for our purposes and down right dangerous to ingest.  The salt water deposits are less predictable in their sediments due to their open environment.

Whats the Difference Between Amorphous and Crystalline Silica

Amorphous silica is silica in its naturally occurring state.  It is a trace mineral every mammal on the planet needs to live.  Diatoms are found in all water sources and are the main food for aquatic life.  Diatomaceous Earth becomes crystalline when it is exposed to extreme temperatures by manufacturing means and in minute amounts through naturally occurring extreme heat such as volcanic activity.  The type of diatomaceous earth used in swimming pool and other filtration systems is crystalline silica that has been heated naturally or by man to make it crystalline.  Crystalline silica is extremely dangerous when inhaled or ingested.  IT IS NOT BIODEGRADABLE!!!

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