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How to Apply Diatomaceous Earth

When using diatomaceous earth for pest control it is helpful to be creative in your application methods. While many people simply use their hands or a scoop to sprinkle the powder in the cracks and crevices of their homes and throughout their yards and gardens, others come up with interesting and more efficient methods of applying the product. Below is a list of creative applicators that can be found or made with simple supplies that you may already have at home.

  • Panty hose
  • Burlap bag
  • Salt shaker
  • Ketchup or mustard bottle
  • Flour sieve
  • Colander
  • Mesh strainer
  • Coffee can with holes in the lid
  • Stiff broom
  • Leaf blower
  • Aeration fan
  • Makeup powder puff

If you’ve developed a creative method for applying DE to your home or garden let us know!

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Diatomaceous Earth As A Natural Insecticide: An Accidental Discovery

Diatomaceous earth has been used for thousands of years. In fact, over 4,000 years ago the Chinese and Egyptians used DE to preserve various foods including grains, nuts, legumes and seeds and protect them from moisture, mold and pests.

However, the use of diatomaceous earth as a natural insecticide was not acknowledged by humans until 1958 in Phoenix, Arizona (animals, on the other hand, have been using dust for this purpose for millions of years).

Louis de Lisle, an inventor, believed that he had discovered a way to make synthetic gems. During one of his many visits to Louis’ small, fly infested workshop, to watch and take part in this discovery, Neil Clark made a shocking discovery. He noticed that every time Louis crushed a certain material in to a powder the flies in the workshop disappeared. This material was diatomaceous earth.

Excited about this discovery, Neil and Louis began testing the diatomaceous earth on insects and found it to be highly effective in killing them. With the help of Dr. E Bertke, a zoologist at Arizona State University, it was found and confirmed by the Bureau of Biological and Physical Sciences of the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare that food grade diatomaceous earth was harmless to warm-blooded animals. In fact, the animals fed DE even gained weight!

It was shown in a University of Nebraska test that food grade diatomaceous earth has a 98% repellency factor against insects (compared to a 60% factor for most chemical insecticides) and was verified by the FDA that the product is not harmful to warm-blooded animals.

Image by Chris Breeze

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Diatomaceous Earth: What Does Food Chemical Codex Mean?

Group of old books

The term Food Chemical Codex (FCC) refers to a compendium of standards that is used internationally to ensure the quality and purity of food ingredients. The FCC helps manufacturers and consumers in recognizing genuine ingredients and substances and assures the quality of food products. Currently, the United States Pharmacopeia publishes the FCC every two years. The compendium was first published in 1966 by the Institute of Medicine and was acquired by the United States Pharmacopeia in 2006.

FCC standards are recognized in more than 130 countries around the world. In fact, some regulatory authorities and government bodies have incorporated these standards into their laws to help protect the quality of products and ingredients that are produced in or exported to their countries.

US law and FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) regulations refer to FCC standards. Currently, over 200 FDA regulations in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations incorporate the standards set forth in the Food Chemicals Codex compendium.

In Canada, food additives must comply with regulations issued by Health Canada. If no such regulations exist, specifications set by the FCC (Fourth Edition) are to be followed.

Australia and New Zealand’s governing body for such regulations (the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand) recognizes standards set by the FCC (Sixth Edition) as the primary source of identity and purity for substances added to food.

In Brazil, FCC standards are recommended, along with other standards.

In Israel, Public Health Regulations state that those who produce, import, market or store food additives must comply with the requirements in the latest edition of the FCC or in the latest edition of the Compendium of Food Additive Specifications (JECFA).

Products that are labeled Food Chemical Codex Grade have met high standards and are considered safe however, in the case of diatomaceous earth, this term does not suggest that the product is safe or registered for human consumption. Food Chemical Codex Grade diatomaceous earth products may be approved for use as a filtering and processing aid in the food industry, as long as the substance is removed from final goods offered for sale. In the United States, FCC compliant DE products are regulated by each state for use in livestock feed as an anti-caking agent and flow aid (in amounts not to exceed two percent of total diet).

There is also confusion around DE being safe for human consumption due to GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status. Again, with all FCC DE products, GRAS only refers to the acceptance of DE being used as a filtering or processing aid in food. The term GRAS when associated with DE does not refer to human consumption, as some web-sites may indicate.

In order for a DE product to be sold for human consumption it must undergo stringent and lengthy testing and be registered with the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) or CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) for this purpose.

Image by Michael Graf

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Diatomaceous Earth and Dog Breeders: Consumer Success Stories

Recently Rays Dobermans, a Doberman Pinscher breeder located in Houston Texas, has found food grade diatomaceous earth to be very effective in controlling ticks. After the services of an exterminator and the application of various types of sprays failed to eliminate a tick problem in their kennels, Rays Dobermans decided to try using diatomaceous earth to get rid of the ticks. The DE powder was sprinkled in and around the kennels and, unlike the previous methods employed, the diatomaceous earth was successful in eradicating the tick problem! In fact, in an experiment to see the effects of diatomaceous earth, Larry (of Rays Dobermans) tested the product on a tick he captured in a jar. To his amazement, once in the jar with the food grade DE, the insect was shriveled up and dead within 15 hours!

For more information or to contact Rays Dobermans, please visit

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“Pure” Diatomaceous Earth: Fact and Fiction

Any mined material which is composed primarily of the fossilized exoskeletons of diatoms can be defined as a diatomaceous earth. This material can come from a fresh or salt water deposit.

Each deposit is different, not only in the species, shape and age of the diatoms it contains but also in the wide range of other elements present in the material.

It is often believed that the silicon dioxide (SiO2 or amorphous silica) content of a diatomaceous earth product is a measure of its purity however, this is not the case.

Silicon dioxide (Si02 or amorphous silica) is the main element in diatomaceous earth however all diatomaceous earth products, in their natural (raw) state, typically contain 20-35% addition elements other than silica.

Color and formulation also vary between deposits and can be affected by the manufacturing processes. These characteristics are also not a measure of purity.

It is the presence of the diatoms that define a diatomaceous earth and their species, shape and particularly the age of the diatoms that define their ability to function for certain purposes. As well, the way in which the DE is prepared (calcined or non-calcined) also plays an important role in the end products use. For example, diatomaceous earth that is heated to a very high temperature (calcined) can be used only as a filtering aid in swimming pools and should not be consumed or inhaled (due to its high crystalline silica content). Natural diatomaceous earth, on the other hand, is non-calcined. It is not considered harmful and can be ingested by animals.

For more information on the importance of species, shape and age please see Diatoms: The Importance of Shape and Age

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Diatomaceous Earth: Is This A Super-Product?

colorful row of tulips

Currently our diatomaceous earth is registered for several purposes throughout Canada and the United States. Our Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth is registered as a feed additive for agricultural use in the U.S. and Canada. Last CrawlTM Insecticide Powder, which is composed of the same Food Chemical Codex Grade diatomaceous earth as Red Lake Earth, is registered in Canada and the United States as a natural insecticide for domestic applications. As well, in Canada, our DE-cide diatomaceous earth product is registered as an insecticide for commercial applications. Beyond these registered uses however, many speculations are being made as to what other exciting benefits DE is really capable of providing!

All across the web, stories and suggestions can be found regarding the use of Diatomaceous Earth for various purposes and while these claims cannot legally be made by producers, it is very interesting to see the results people are experiencing with the use of this natural product.

Here at Absorbent Products Ltd. we are committed to research that will put us on the cutting edge of environmentally friendly technologies and products therefore it was only suiting that we conduct a study on Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth.

Here’s what we found:

Diatomaceous Earth as an Insecticide:

DE is effective in killing barn, garden, grain and household insects such as ants, bedbugs, silverfish, flies, darkling beetles, flour beetles, and other crawling insects.

How to Use DE as an Insecticide:

Diatomaceous Earth can be mixed with an attractant such as a cereal or nut powder, icing sugar, powdered soup mixes, powdered yeast, etc. to attract and encourage the insect to ingest it resulting in a lacerated digestive tract, causing further dehydration. Note: Mix at a rate of 25% to 50% in volume.

For infestations of ants, bedbugs, silverfish and other insect pests inside your home, apply the DE dust behind appliances, cabinets, along baseboards, along edges and underneath carpets and rugs, bed frames, cracks, crevices and other places where insects hide or crawl. Note: Apply at a rate of 70g per 10m2.

For use outdoors, lightly coat areas where ants and other crawling insects are found including ant trails, door frames, entrance ways, perimeter foundations, patios, window frames and window sills. Note: apply at a rate of 70g per 10m2.

For use against house flies in operations where manure accumulation occurs be sure to combine this treatment with good manure management practices (e.g., aeration via proper placement of fans and intake vents, maintenance of watering system equipment).

**DE can control house flies in layer poultry operations by reducing the number of fly larvae occurring in the accumulating manure 5 to 6 weeks after weekly application.

For use in-transit, clean out box cars, ship holds and truck beds prior to transporting grains, then simply apply a light dusting of DE to all walls and floors.

For use in the garden, apply a light dusting of diatomaceous earth to both sides of the plant leaves for effective control of ants, flies and other crawling insects.

PLEASE NOTE: Avoid dusting flowers and other areas where bees and beneficial insects may land, as diatomaceous earth has the potential to negatively impact most insects that come in contact with it. As well, for food plant and other industrial use, avoid contamination of food in the application and storage of the product. Do not use diatomaceous earth on food contact surfaces. When using DE for garden use, wash all produce thoroughly before using.

For more information and application rates for our natural insecticide, please see:
APL’s Diatomaceous Earth Now Approved in Canada As Natural Insecticide

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Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas

Need to get rid of fleas and ticks naturally without the use of harmful chemicals around your family and pets. Food grade diatomaceous earth is a great natural alternative to chemical pesticides, especially when trying to get rid of fleas and ticks. While DE products such as Last CrawlTM Insecticide Powder and DE-cide are not currently registered for use on animals, many people do use diatomaceous earth products for this purpose and see great results!

Diatomaceous earth is composed of tiny organisms known as diatoms which have the ability to lacerate the exoskeletons of various types of insects and kill them through dehydration.

In the event of an infestation of fleas, mites or ticks it is important to get proper treatment for your animal, as well as to treat the environment that habitat. For information on applying diatomaceous earth for pest control in your home, please see: Diatomaceous Earth: Is This a Super-Product?

Below is a collection of consumer tested application methods in which consumers have used diatomaceous earth to help control fleas, ticks, and mites.

Please be advised that this information has been provided by consumers and has not been scientifically tested. Diatomaceous earth products such as Last CrawlTM Insecticide Powder and DE-cide are not currently registered for use on animals but can be used to treat infested areas in your home and yard. Before choosing to use diatomaceous earth for an unregistered purpose, please carefully conduct your own research in order to make an informed decision.

Regular Method:

Using your hands, sprinkle a thin layer of food-grade diatomaceous earth throughout your animal’s fur. Dust the powder into their coat and on to their skin underneath. As well, sprinkle the diatomaceous earth along their backbone while working the powder in with your fingers.

Salt Shaker Method:

Fill an empty salt shaker with diatomaceous earth and shake the powder on to your animal. Dust the fine layer of DE into your animal’s fur or feathers with your hands.

Cosmetic Powder Puff Method:

Fill a cup, bowl or another container with food-grade diatomaceous earth. Dip a powder puff into the DE and use it to spread the product over the infected area. (Note: Do not powder the DE on like makeup, as this will create a lot of dust.) Dust the layer of DE into the animal’s fur or feathers with your hands.

Wet Mixture Method:

In a dishpan or washtub/bathtub, add 1 cup of DE to 1 gallon of water. Dip your pet in the mixture or, for an all-over application (recommended after bathing the animal), place your pet in the washtub/bathtub and cover them in the mixture.

For spot treatments, put the mixture of DE and water in a spray bottle and apply to hotspots. Shake well before use and be sure to have spray set to stream (or that the spray is wide open).

Be sure to leave the DE mixture on your pet to dry. Re-apply if the animal becomes wet or is bathed, as the DE is easily washed off.

This method courtesy of Imminent Danger German Shepherd Rescue, Greenville, Tennessee.

**A few things to note:

It is important that you keep the DE powder out of your pets’ eyes and ears.

For use with fleas, pay close attention to the animal’s backbone, thoroughly dusting the DE into this area of the fur.

Be sure to buy food grade diatomaceous earth that is in a powdered granulation.

Diatomaceous earth is not effective when wet however it can be applied wet and left to dry. Once dry, the product will return to its original form and continue to be effective.

Due to the fact that diatomaceous earth is a light powder, it is easily washed away by water, therefore, it is important to re-apply the product if your animal becomes wet after the DE has been applied.

The amount of time it takes before you see results will depend on the extent of the infestation.

The information above is based on customer experiences and recommendations. For Absorbent Product’s suggestions on eliminating fleas and bed bugs check out – Pet Care: How to Get Rid of Fleas and Bed Bugs.

For safe and natural flea control in your home and yard, check out Last Crawl Diatomaceous Earth Insecticide Powder

Please note: Last CrawlTM Insecticide Powder is currently available only in Canada. Information regarding this product is therefore applicable only in Canada.

Image by katleneniven

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Diatomaceous Earth in Animal Feed: What Is an Anti-Caking Agent and Flow Aid?


While individuals have found many other uses for Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth, the product it is currently only registered for use as a pelleting aid, anti-caking agent and flow agent in livestock feed (not to exceed 2% of the total diet).

What this means is that Red Lake Earth improves the flowability and mixability of feed.

In a silo, wet grain, corn and other types of feed will often stick together creating clumps. Adding Red Lake Earth helps to dry the feed out, break it up and keep it from sticking in the silo. This is the function of an anti-caking agent or flow aid.

As a pelleting aid, Red Lake Earth helps with the formation and the quality of pellets. More specifically, when mixed in feed, the product helps to lubricate grain that is being prepared in to pellets. The RLE helps the grain to slide easily through the die plate, which compresses the grain. As well, the product creates a better pellet by helping it stick together.

Image by SAN_DRINO

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Diatoms: The Importance of Shape and Age

Each deposit of diatomaceous earth is different. They possess varying blends of pure diatomaceous earth combined with other natural clays. The diatoms in each deposit contain different amounts of silica, depending on the age of the deposit, and different deposits may even contain a different species of diatom all together.

The species of diatom found in a deposit is dependant upon the age and paleo-environment of the deposit. In turn, the shape of a diatom is determined by its species.

The shape of the diatoms contained in a deposit has not been proven to affect their functionality when it comes to the absorption of liquids, however certain applications, such as that for slugs and snails, do work best when a particular shaped diatom is used. For example, in the case of slugs and snails large, spiny diatoms work best to lacerate the outer shell of the insect.

The deposit used for Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth is from the Miocene age and, like many other deposits throughout British Columbia from this same time period, Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth contains a species of diatom known as Melosira granulata. These diatoms are approximately 12 to 13 million years old and are a small globular shape.

A deposit containing diatoms from this age can provide many more benefits than an older deposit, for example Eocene age diatoms (that are approximately 40 to 50 millions year old) due to the fact that older diatoms recrystallize and their small pores become filled with silica, reducing their ability to absorb fluids.

Image by jpdodd

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APL’s Diatomaceous Earth Now Approved As Natural Insecticide

APL’s Diatomaceous Earth has been approved for use as a natural insecticide in Canada!

We are excited to announce that our highly sought after diatomaceous earth has been approved in Canada for use against insects in the home and garden! Look for our new product, LAST CRAWL™ Insecticide Powder, at stores near you or purchase LAST CRAWL™ online! Please note: Last CrawlTM Insecticide Powders are available in both Canada and the U.S.

As an all-natural insecticide, LAST CRAWL™ is highly effective in killing household and garden pests including Ants, Bedbugs, Silverfish, Flour Beetles, Fleas, Cockroaches, Slugs, Earwigs, Centipedes, Millipedes, Sowbugs, Pillbugs, Carpet Beetles, Spiders, Crickets, Colorado Potato Beetles and Caterpillars.

Composed of the same food chemical codex grade diatomaceous, LAST CRAWL™ can be mixed with an attractant such as a cereal or nut powder, icing sugar, powdered soup mixes, powdered yeast, or other dry, powdered, food-grade attractants to encourage insects to ingest it resulting in a lacerated digestive tract, causing further dehydration. The attractant can be mixed at a rate of 25% to 50% in volume.

LAST CRAWL™ can be applied at a rate of 70 g of product per 10 m2. If applied with an attractant, the application rate can be reduced to 60 g of product per 10m2.

LAST CRAWL™ can also be applied as a wet powder: Mix 90 grams of LAST CRAWL™ per 1 L of water. Mix well before application, and continue mixing during application, some settling may occur. Apply to the point of wetness around foundations, shrubs, flower beds, gardens, etc. using a suitable applicator. 1 L of mixture will treat 10 m2. Product remains effective for as long as it is present. Repeat treatment as necessary.

Where To Apply:

Indoors: Clear away debris and lightly dust all surfaces behind appliances, cabinets, along baseboards, along edges and underneath carpets and rugs, bed frames, paying careful attention to cracks, crevices and other places where insects may hide or crawl.

Outdoors: Clear away debris and lightly coat areas where pests are found including ant trails, door frames, entrance ways, foundations, patios, window frames, window sills, shrubs, flower beds, gardens etc. Pay careful attention to cracks, crevices, and other areas where insects may hide or crawl.

Application Methods:

A fine dust of LAST CRAWL™ can be applied using hand dusters or other suitable means.

Please Note:

For best results the treated area should be left undisturbed for two to three days to eliminate existing and reoccurring infestations.

For best results outdoors, use the product in areas where the dust cannot be affected by heavy rains or high winds.

When applying to plants, use a light dusting of LAST CRAWL™ on both sides of the plant leaves. Avoid dusting flowers and other areas where bees and beneficial insects may land, as diatomaceous earth has the potential to negatively impact most insects that come in contact with it.

For storage areas it is recommended that LAST CRAWL™ be re-applied each time the storage area is emptied.

When using LAST CRAWL™ for garden use, wash all produce thoroughly before using.

The product will remain effective for as long as it is present. Repeat treatment as necessary.

Would you like to see this new, environmentally friendly, pet and people safe product at a store near you? If so, please request the product by name at your local retailer.