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What Is the Difference Between Brown and White Diatomaceous Earth?

grey brown diatomaceous earth

Each deposit of diatomaceous earth is different.

Currently, diatomaceous earth can be classified into the following major categories – food grade, feed grade and pool grade. Each category has its own set of specifications that must be met.

While each diatomaceous earth product on the market will fall into one (or two, in the case that the product meets both food and feed grade specifications) of these categories, each source of DE will be slightly different in its makeup.

For example, the difference between white DE and brown (or brownish-grey) DE (such as Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth) is that darker colored diatomaceous earth contains calcium montmorillonite (also known as calcium bentonite), a clay that occurs naturally in the deposit. White DE, on the other hand, contains only diatomaceous earth, along with other trace amounts of additional elements.

Many people are curious as to what benefits might be provided by each different source of diatomaceous earth however, not a lot of scientific testing has been done in order to compare these different sources. In recent tests conducted by the lab at Absorbent Products Ltd., the effectiveness of Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth and a white DE product were compared when used as a natural insecticide. In these tests, no difference in overall effectiveness was found between the two sources.

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Diatomaceous Earth for Humans: What You Don’t Know

Collection of spoons

Diatomaceous earth is quickly gaining popularity as a health food product for human consumption and many people do experience various positive results.

However, there are currently NO food grade diatomaceous earth products that are registered with the appropriate organizations to be sold as a health product for human consumption (although it may appear otherwise). This is due to the fact that there has not been enough testing done on the product to prove that it is effective or safe.

Testing, especially for long-term effects, is very costly and companies have been unable to provide the necessary scientific research requirements to attain certification for distribution as a health product.

There are many sites out there that provide long lists of the benefits that food grade diatomaceous earth can provide to humans and it may seem as though they have scientific proof and are licensed to sell their DE as a health product however be aware of the fine print.

On any site claiming human health benefits and selling diatomaceous earth for the purpose of human consumption you will find a disclaimer that points out that the product is not actually approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is only technically considered to be unofficial information for research purposes.

This is not to say that diatomaceous earth does not provide these health benefits. In fact, with enough funding and scientific research diatomaceous earth could possibly be approved for human consumption and prove to be very helpful in maintaining the health of both humans and animals.

Please use your own discretion and utilize various research methods when choosing to consume food grade diatomaceous earth. Do not be fooled by sites that claim to have a product that is registered for human consumption, as the information they provide is not scientific but rather a collection of testimonials.

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Diatomaceous Earth for Bed Bugs

Are you looking for a safe, easy and cheap way to help get rid of bed bugs? Diatomaceous Earth is your solution!

DE is nontoxic, safe to use and much cheaper than other bed bug alternatives!

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous Earth is a naturally occurring mineral composed of the fossilized remains of diatoms, tiny micro-organisms that lived in large bodies of water. This clay is mined and crumbled into a fine powder which can be used for many purposes including the removal of bed bugs.

How Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Bed Bugs?

Diatomaceous Earth is composed of fossilized microscopic diatoms which are very sharp to the insects outer body. When parasites and insects such as bed bugs come in contact with the DE it lacerates their exoskeletons and the powder of the DE then absorbs all of their bodily fluids, causing them to dehydrate and die!

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Bed Bugs

Apply a thin layer of Diatomaceous Earth to the infested area. Leave the dust on for a few days then simply vacuum or sweep up. Note: the amount of time that it takes the diatomaceous earth to kill the bed bugs depends on the extent of the infestation. Multiple applications may be required for a severe infestation.


Be sure to place the DE in cracks, crevices, and areas that the substance will not be disturbed, as you do not want to place it in an area where it may be turned up and result in inhalation of the product. It is important that when you are applying the dust you use a dust mask or respirator.

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How Long Does Diatomaceous Earth Take to Kill Insects?

The amount of time that it takes diatomaceous earth to kill insects varies greatly depending on factors such as particle size, temperature, relative humidity, the type of insect as well as the extent of the infestation.

Diatomaceous earth may need to be left down anywhere from 1 day to a week or more in order to be effective against an infestation.

Although each situation will be different, in many cases results have been seen with…

Bedbugs within 24 hours of properly applying the diatomaceous earth, with more substantial results after 5 days (120 hours).

Beetles such as Merchant grain beetles and Darkling beetles within 7-21 days. Note: for darkling beetles it is best to apply DE soon after manure removal in poultry facilities when mobility among the beetles is highest. This will ensure that the beetles come in contact with the diatomaceous earth.

Silverfish within 7-14 days. Note: the removal of clutter prior to treatment is recommended in order to improve effectiveness.

Black ants within 24 hours

Red ants within 16 hours

Be sure to monitor the infestation. Once you have reached the desired result, simply vacuum up the used food grade diatomaceous earth.

Note: it is important that you re-apply the DE if any area that you have applied it becomes wet as the product will wash away very easily.

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Food Chemical Codex Grade (Food Grade) vs. Pool Grade Diatomaceous Earth: The DL on DE

Whether it be for use with livestock, as pest control or as a natural health supplement for humans, the buzz surrounding DE is undeniable. However, there is a lot of confusion regarding the various types of diatomaceous earth and what they can and cannot be used for. So here it is…the ‘down low’ on DE!

What is the difference between food chemical codex grade (food grade) and feed grade diatomaceous earth?

Although these two types are very similar there is one very important distinction between them. Food Chemical Codex Grade (commonly referred to as “Food Grade”) DE must meet certain specifications regarding heavy metal content. To be considered Food Grade, the diatomaceous earth must not contain more than 10mg/kg of arsenic and no more than 10mg/kg of lead.

What is the difference between food chemical codex grade (food grade) and pool grade DE?

The difference here lies in the way that each type of DE is treated. Pool Grade DE is calcined, meaning that is treated with very high heat. This turns the silicon dioxide that is present in the DE into crystalline silica. Pool Grade diatomaceous earth, and most other calcined DE products, contain high concentrations of crystalline silica. In fact, some can range from 60 – 70% crystalline silica.

Crystalline silica is very dangerous and can be harmful to the health of humans and animals. For this reason, Pool Grade diatomaceous earth should NOT be used for any purpose other than filtration.

Most Food Chemical Codex Grade (Food Grade) diatomaceous earth products, on the other hand, are not calcined and are composed largely of amorphous silica. Food Chemical Codex Grade (Food Grade) DE products contain less than 1% crystalline silica and can be used in animal feed and for insect control. Food Grade diatomaceous earth, such as Red Lake Earth, unlike pool grade DE, is safe to be used around humans and animals.

What’s the difference between grey and white diatomaceous earth?

DE varies in color due to the fact that each deposit is composed of a unique makeup. The reason that Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth is brownish-grey in color is that, in addition to diatomaceous earth, this deposit is also enhanced with naturally occurring minerals such as montmorillonite (also known as calcium bentonite).

White DE products and grey/brown DE products will function the same. What is most important is that the diatomaceous earth is Food Chemical Codex Grade (Food Grade) and therefore safe to use around humans and animals.

Can pool grade DE be used for anything other than filtration?

Although Pool Grade diatomaceous earth is often cheaper and easier to come by, due to its high crystalline silica content, Pool Grade diatomaceous earth should not be used for anything other than filtration.

ONLY Food Chemical Codex Grade (Food Grade) diatomaceous earth is safe to use around humans and animals.

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How to Control Cockroaches


Cockroaches are one of the most common insects on earth and are considered to be one of the most successful groups of animals, with their existence tracing back over 300 million years. There are approximately 3,500 species of cockroaches worldwide, 55 of which are found in the United States.

Cockroaches are attracted to warm, damp conditions and will inhabit any area where food, water and shelter are available. They are often found in kitchens, bathrooms, basements and plumbing areas. Cockroaches (and their egg cases) can easily find their way into your home on various objects including used furniture, food items, empty drink bottles and shipping cartons. Cockroaches are attracted to food sources, especially those containing starches, sugars and protein however they will eat anything that is organic including grease, garbage, cotton, wool fabrics, cardboard and even wallpaper glue!

Cockroaches live in groups and are most active at night. During the day, they can be found in cracks and crevices that are dark and moist. As well, they are attracted to porous surfaces, such as wood, cardboard and paper, because they can saturate these surfaces with their odor, attracting other roaches to the area.

Cockroaches rarely cause structural damage, however they can contaminate food and spread disease by walking over, and excreting on, food or food preparation areas. The germs that are spread by cockroaches can lead to food poisoning as well as other diseases. People with asthma may also have a negative reaction to their feces.

Below are some suggestions to help deter cockroaches and prevent an infestation:

Be sure to keep your kitchen clean. Do not allow grease, crumbs, or clutter to accumulate. Clean all surfaces including on, around, underneath and behind stoves, refrigerators, cupboards and drawers. Don’t allow dirty dishes to remain on counter tops or in the dishwasher overnight.

Make sure to wipe up cockroach specks and droppings, as these are eaten by baby cockroaches and will attract other cockroaches to the area.

Store all food in tightly sealed containers and do not leave bowls of pet food on the floor overnight. Be sure to keep garbage, compost and recyclables in tightly sealed containers.

Vacuum regularly to help remove food particles and insect eggs.

Wrap or insulate pipes with excess condensation, repair leaky faucets and pipes, ventilate bathrooms and dehumidify moist areas to reduce sources of water.

Eliminate any and all clutter to further reduce the number of areas where cockroaches might live.

When an infestation does occur, many people resort to chemical sprays and “bomb” treatments however this will not provide a long term solution. In fact, certain chemical sprays will repel roaches, causing them to avoid sprayed areas and to hide deeper inside the walls, making control even more difficult.

Rather than chemical sprays, a multiple tactic approach that includes sanitation and the use of natural insecticides, such as Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth, is often used to help control cockroaches. It is very difficult to eradicate an infestation using diatomaceous earth alone, therefore the surrounding environment must also be altered. By removing food and water sources that may be attracting the insects, you will create an environment that is much harder for cockroaches to live in.

While Red Lake Earth has not been tested specifically for use against cockroaches, diatomaceous earth is know to be effective on most crawling insects.

Diatomaceous earth works as a natural insecticide by killing insects by lacerating their waxy exoskeletons and dehydrating them. In fact, National Geographic states, “Death comes in 12 hours after insects venture into diatomaceous earth. Their skins are pierced by sharp edges of the diatoms’ siliceous shells, causing life’s juices to flow out.”

For use against insects, simply sprinkle Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth in the cracks and crevices throughout your home as well as underneath appliances and inside void areas (such as wall voids and voids around cabinets). Apply only a thin layer of dust, as heavy deposits may repel cockroaches and other insects. Take precautions to assure that the diatomaceous earth does not come in contact with food meant for human consumption and that you do not inhale large amounts of dust.

For more detailed application instructions, please see: APL’s Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth Now Approved in Canada As Natural Insecticide

Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth is safe to use around all types of animals (RLE is registered for use in animal feed as an anti-caking agent and flow aid and is therefore safe to use around animals, even if consumed).

Mixing diatomaceous earth with an attractant, such as food, may help in eliminating pests by further lacerating their insides.

Diatomaceous earth is only effective when dry.

Please note: This information has been gathered from various online sources and is not meant to replace the advice of a trained pest control professional.

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Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Animals?

Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth is registered as a feed additive for use in livestock feed as an anti-caking agent and pelleting aid. However, food grade diatomaceous earth is also known to work well as a natural insecticide. DE works to kill pests such as bed bugs, mites, fleas, ticks and many other crawling insects by lacerating their exoskeletons and dehydrating them.

The reason that diatomaceous earth is safe for animals to ingest but also works so well to kill insects has to do with the fact that it works as an abrasive only at a microscopic level. DE particles are very tiny and their razor-sharp edges only function to lacerate surfaces at a microscopic level. Because insects are also small, the diatomaceous earth can easily cut their exoskeletons. The movement of their bodies across the DE, as well as their waxy exoskeletons, creates conditions in which the DE rubs against their bodies and lacerates their outer shells. A large, strong surface, on the other hand, such as the tissue of the intestines and stomach are not affected by the sharp edges of the diatomaceous earth, as the particles are too tiny to cause any damage.

So, while food grade DE has the ability to kill insects due to the razor-sharp edges of its particles, it is completely safe for animals to consume.

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Diatomaceous Earth: Calcined vs. Non-Calcined

a crop field of wheat

Diatomaceous earth can be calcined or non-calcined. The difference between the two is very important depending on what purpose the DE is being used for.

Calcined diatomaceous earth has been treated at a temperature above 1000 ºC. The purpose of this is to further harden the exoskeletons of the diatoms in order to create a better filtering agent. This process causes the amorphous silica that makes up the exoskeleton of the diatom to turn in to crystalline silica. This is a benefit if the diatomaceous earth is to be used as a filtering aid (for example, in a pool filter), however crystalline silica can be toxic to humans and animals when inhaled. Calcined diatomaceous earth is not used for animal feed and is not food grade.

Natural diatomaceous earth is non-calcined meaning that it has not been treated at a high temperature. The amorphous silica remains in its natural state and is not considered harmful to animal or human health. Diatomaceous earth products, such as Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth, are required to contain less than 1% Crystalline Silica. Calcined DE products however, may contain up to 70% Crystalline Silica!

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Diatomaceous Earth for Darkling Beetles: How to Apply

Diatomaceous earth works well to eliminate many crawling insects including darkling beetles.

The following guidelines will help you to achieve the best results when applying DE-CIDE, a food grade diatomaceous earth product to your barn or poultry house.

Apply the diatomaceous earth to a clean surface (if possible).

Start at one end of the barn or poultry house and apply the diatomaceous earth extending 4 ft out from the wall around the entire perimeter.

Apply a thick layer of DE in the first 2 ft out from the wall and a thinner layer for the following 2 ft. (one 40 lb bag will take you 25-35 ft.)

Please note:

Be sure to use a fine granulation (or a powdered granulation, if necessary).

The thicker the application of diatomaceous earth, the more effective it will be (a larger infestation will require a thicker application).

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Welcome to Fly Season: Controlling Flies with Diatomaceous Earth

Controlling pests and insects is very important to livestock production.

In fact, flies can cause disease, mortality and decreased growth rates in livestock. It is therefore essential that pests such as flies be controlled. All animals are vulnerable to pests, due to the fact that they are unable to escape from the insects that live outdoors and in barns and other animal dwellings. The irritation that these pests create for livestock along with the negative health effects that they can impose, may lead to economic losses for agriculturalists.

Here are some interesting facts that you may not know about flies:

Flies lay approximately 3,000 to 6,000 eggs every 3-4 days

They emerge in as little as 8-10 hours

A pair of flies and their offspring can produce a total of 191,010,000,000,000,000,000 in just 4 months!

Flies carry over 1,000 different pathogens

65 of these pathogens are known to be transferred to humans including:

Typhoid fever, salmonella, dysentery, cholera, polio, anthrax, leprosy, tuberculosis

If you can kill just one pair of flies you can eliminate 230,000,000 EVERY 60 DAYS

There are many options available to control fly populations. A popular all natural and environmentally friendly solution is diatomaceous earth. This natural product helps to control flies in two ways: first it provides a drier environment which helping to reduce breeding areas. Secondly diatomaceous earth is very abrasive to insects, lacerating their exoskeletons and absorbing their bodily fluids when they come in contact with the powder, causing them to dehydrate and die.

Farmers have found that they can decrease fly populations by spreading food grade diatomaceous earth where manure accumulation occurs (a light coat at a rate of 50g per 10m2(1oz per 65sq ft) is often used). This method should also be combined with good manure management practices (e.g., aeration via proper placement of fans and intake vents, maintenance of watering system equipment).

Please note: effects may not be seen for 5 to 6 weeks after weekly application.