How to Use Diatomaceous Earth For Health, Pests, and DIY

In a world of GMOs and toxic chemicals, a natural product like diatomaceous earth (DE) sounds too good to be true. Yet many people use this inexpensive, organic substance in hundreds of ways to increase health and wellness for themselves, their families, and their pets.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth | Real Food RN

Well, truth be told, I had to learn about this one the hard way. My naturopath recommended that I take diatomaceous earth to help eradicate a parasite that I had! Yikes!! Yep, and you know what? The MAJORITY of the population has parasites. Most of us. But, they are not all bad.

Mine was bad. So it had to go.

Now comes the part about eating diatomaceous earth. I am supposed to eat what? Dirt? Diata what? How do you even pronounce that?!

Don’t people use that stuff to kill pests in their yards? 

Well, yes, that is true, but there is more to the story. I wanted to set the record straight here and let you all know how to use diatomaceous earth (and what it is exactly!).

None of this is meant to be taken as medical advice. Nope. I just wanted to clear some things up so we can all be on the same page about the benefits and uses. No more arguments on social media about eating dirt. Mmmmkay?

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth

In a world of GMOs and toxic chemicals, a natural product like diatomaceous earth (DE) sounds too good to be true. Yet many people use this inexpensive, organic substance in hundreds of ways to increase health and wellness for themselves, their families, and their pets. I’m surprised, however, that many people have never heard of DE before, and if they have, their understanding of what it is and what it’s used for is usually limited. But it’s just too good to miss out on.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth | Real Food RN

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

I’ve heard some people refer to DE as “dirt,” which isn’t quite accurate. It’s true that DE comes from the ground, but it’s not dirt, exactly. DE is made from fossilized diatoms, a kind of microscopic algae. When diatoms die, they leave behind hard, porous shells made primarily of silica. These tiny, ancient shells are mined from huge deposits and ground into a fine, off-white powder that resembles flour. This powder, which is very clean and virtually free of dirt, is what we know as diatomaceous earth.

What Grade of Diatomaceous Earth Should I Use?

DE comes in several different grades, but for most purposes, food-grade is what you want. Food grade is safe to eat and use around children and pets. Another common grade is pool grade, which is used to filter swimming pools. However, pool grade is NOT safe to eat or use in your home. Pool grade is heated to extremely high temperatures, changing its structure and rendering it unsafe for anything other than filtration.

Another grade that can be very helpful is the pest control grade. We’ll talk more about this grade in a moment.

Uses and Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth

From supplement to pesticide to preservative, DE has many uses. In fact, it’s already an ingredient in many products, such as some toothpaste and exfoliating skin products. You can also use DE as a natural do-it-yourself solution for many things.

✔ DE Detox

Many people ingest DE as a way to detox their bodies. DE by nature is highly absorbent and gently abrasive. As it moves through your digestive system, it scrubs your insides and absorbs toxins from your intestines. To detox, begin by taking one teaspoon per day in water on an empty stomach. If the slight chalkiness of DE is too much for you to handle, try taking it in juice, a smoothie, or a bowl of oatmeal. Over several weeks, work up to taking about a tablespoon per day. Some flu-like side effects are normal when you are starting out. They are caused by the toxins being dislodged and leaving your system. If the symptoms continue or worsen, increase your water and fiber intake and reduce your DE dose. From there, slowly work your way back up. I like to take some in water after my sauna sessions to mop up any toxins!

✔ Health Supplement

As I mentioned before, the primary ingredient in DE is silica, which is something your body needs a lot of. Many people take DE as a supplement for silica. Because it is so hard, much of the silica passes through your system without being absorbed, but some of it is. DE also contains trace minerals that can be very beneficial to your body. To take DE as a supplement, follow the directions for detoxing.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth | Real Food RN

While no benefits of taking DE internally have been outlined by the FDA, people are speaking up all over the internet about what taking DE has done for them. By the thousands, people state that DE boosts their energy, helps them lose weight, supports digestive health, strengthens skin and hair, and promotes joint health.

✔ Pest Control without Poisons

The fact that DE is an effective pesticide is indisputable, but this fact actually makes some people cautious about using DE. Naturally free of toxins; its bug-killing secret is in its physical structure. Because of its coarse, porous, and absorbent nature, it sticks to bugs when they crawl through it, wicking away vital moisture from their exoskeletons. Within a few hours, they die of dehydration. DE is effective on many kinds of pests, including bed bugs, fleas, lice, ants, ticks, cockroaches, and more. Many people have found relief from these pests without the use of toxic chemicals.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth | Real Food RN

The kind of DE used as a pesticide is the pest control grade. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates pesticides in the United States, does not allow food grade DE to be advertised as a pesticide. For this reason, there are many DE products on the market labeled as insecticides. Where I buy my diatomaceous earth, the pest control grade is the same thing as the food-grade, just packaged differently to meet EPA regulations. Both are safe to use around people and pets; however, if you decide to go with another brand of pest control DE, make sure it doesn’t have any added chemicals.

✔ DIY with DE

Food grade DE can be used in many of your do-it-yourself projects. You can use it as an ingredient in homemade toothpaste, bath bombs, body butter, soap, and much more. Because of its absorptive nature, you can also use it to preserve stored grains and deodorize the carpet. You can even use it to diffuse essential oils.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth | Real Food RN

Safety Considerations

Just like anything, DE is safe as long as it’s used properly. First and foremost, steer clear of pool grade DE unless you need it for your pool filter.

Second, be careful about breathing it in. Just like any dust, if you inhale too much, it can cause irritation. Generally, this isn’t a big deal. However, if you have a respiratory condition, or if you are spreading a large amount of DE, you might want to wear a breathing mask and eye protection to avoid irritation. If you inhale large amounts and it causes prolonged discomfort, I suggest going to see your doctor.

Where Can I Get Diatomaceous Earth?

Various grades and qualities of DE can be found in health food stores, hardware stores, and online. Make sure to do some research before deciding what brand is best for your needs. I buy mine here because they have a great product and a lot of information. Check out their FAQ page and  A-Z Guide, which have a treasure trove of information about DE. Their DE is certified as food-grade by the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC) and certified organic by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI).
It is also the only brand on the market manufactured in compliance with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)!

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth | Real Food RN

In Conclusion:

To sum up, diatomaceous earth is some pretty awesome stuff! Whether you are looking for a natural supplement to improve your health, a safe pesticide to get rid of fleas or bed bugs, or a special ingredient for DIY projects, DE has done incredible things for many people. Just make sure you get the right grade and the right quality for your needs, and you will be amazed by how DE can help you in your health and wellness journey. I hope you learned a thing or two about how to use diatomaceous earth in this post, and give it a try yourself!

Did you already know how to use diatomaceous earth? What are your favorite uses for it? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

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7 Replies to “How to Use Diatomaceous Earth For Health, Pests, and DIY”

  1. Good read. I wish to include that if it kills bad pests it will also kill the good ones such as bees. Also, it can harm birds so be careful when you use it outdoors

  2. Great post! I am super curious about the parasite story! Can you share how you knew you had one and the process of eliminating it using the DE? Thank you!

  3. I make little cloth bags for use in storging crackers, baked goods and other foods which can go stale. Undyed muslim tied with floss makes bundles of DE I keep handy in a lidded mason jar. If I make it as a gift, I add ribbon ties after floss. They last forever since they can be reused.

  4. What is the difference between brown and white DE? I bought a bag of DE at Tractor Supply. The DE is food safe; however, I want to use it to help prevent parasites and etc.

  5. I started taking food grade diatomaceous earth in water with a little Pom. juice for flavor. I started with a half teaspoon a day and actually started feeling better right away, whether this was due to the DE I don’t know. I slowly increased the dosage over several weeks, now I’m taking about a tablespoon a day being careful to take it an hour or more after food type things. I went through what I thought was a cold about a week after starting DE. Now after taking it around two months I feel generally better, clearer and have less itching skin (I am 72 male) generally healthy. Though I do use shea butter on my skin and other skin products but use them less now after DE. My fingernails are stronger thicker and grow faster and there is some hair growing on my bald spot. Also it seems my 2 ft. long hair is thicker fluffier and looks younger and I don’t think I’m just being vain. I plan to continue taking food grade diatomaceous earth at the current dose of a tablespoon a day until I decide not to as I believe it is helping. John

  6. I have used DE as a pesticide. I’ve sprinkled it along/under my based boards and doorways to control pests getting in from outside. I’d like to used it in my carpet for fleas but I’m not sure how much to use or how long to leave it. I’d also like to use it on my lawn but same problem. Will just a little work? I also wonder if it’s safe for pets to ingest.

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