Grades of Diatomaceous Earth explained
While Diatomaceous Earth, often abbreviated as DE, is marketed for a wide variety of uses, there are two standard grades of this substance. Food and industrial grades are further divided into branched categories by more specific uses. Diatomaceous Earth consists of microscopic diatoms fossils which are minute aquatic organisms. The skeletons of these tiny little creatures are made of silica, a naturally occurring substance in the crust of the earth.
Diatomaceous Earth was first marketed as a pesticide in 1960. It is effective against many types of pests; however, this substance is not innately poisonous. The fossils which make up DE acts as drying agents and are extremely abrasive. As insects move around within it, sharp edges of the fossils cut their bodies and the silica wicks moisture from them. DE is divided into grades for specific purposes. DE currently has more than 150 registered private and commercial purposes. Industrial grade Diatomaceous Earth has been calcined by treating it with heat. In this form it is not safe for consumption and often contains high levels of crystalline silica which can cause silicosis.
Food grade Diatomaceous Earth has a wide array of uses for outside and inside. Examples are in gardens, on farms, inside buildings, and animal kennels. Food grade DE is made up of natural amorphous silica which is the freshwater form. It consists of less than 2% crystalline silica. This form of DE also contains beneficial minerals such as calcium, zinc, and magnesium; however, it has either a minute amount or no toxic metals such as lead, Cadmium, Arsenic.
- One of DE’s most common uses is to prevent animal feed from caking.
- Added to grain Diatomaceous Earth can protect it from insects such as weevils and grain moths.
- It can safely be used to help rid animals of common pests such as fleas and ticks.
- Diatomaceous Earth is used for protection against spiders and bed bugs as well as to prevent infestations of crickets and cockroaches.
It is very important to only use the recommended grade of Diatomaceous Earth for any purpose. Industrial grade can be harmful to humans and animals; however, food grade is created to be safer. While it is a natural occurring substance, any grade may be hazardous, if it is used for purposes other than that which it was designed for.