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Cleaning up diatomaceous earth

Cleaning Up Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is an effective, safe insecticide product for getting rid of unwanted pests like bed bugs, fleas, and other crawling insects. Since diatomaceous earth does not have an expiration date, placing the DE in areas where insects may gather and where you would not necessarily notice the product such as crawl spaces, cracks and crevices, behind baseboards and . Once the diatomaceous earth has dehydrated the exoskeleton of these insects, you can remove the DE by following the easy steps below:

First, clean up may not actually be necessary, as many people will leave diatomaceous earth in and around their homes for indefinite amounts of time. Diatomaceous earth will continue to be effective as long as it remains dry. Leaving it alone works best when it is used in inconspicuous, out of the way areas like wall voids, crawl spaces, behind baseboards, and inside cupboards. In areas that you would like to clean up, try some of the following tips:

Before starting to clean, remember that although DE is considered safe to use around pets and humans, like any other dust, it may be irritating to eyes and lungs in large amounts. Many people suggest wearing a mask and glasses when cleaning up for this reason.

Carpets, Rugs, or Other Soft Surfaces

Diatomaceous earth is often used to control bed bugs, so it may be spread on carpets, bedding, rugs, and other upholstered items. Clean up of these types of surfaces is often best achieved by vacuuming the diatomaceous earth. Since DE is a sand material, it can be abrasive to vacuum cleaners with filters. You don’t want to destroy your vacuum cleaner, so it is recommended that you use a shop vac or filterless vacuum. Shop vacs are great because they have powerful suction and can handle the DE without any problem. If you decide to use a filterless vacuum, go about it slowly so that it does not clog your machine. If you still do not feel like the area is clean, after vacuuming thoroughly, you can use a carpet cleaner to finish the job.

Hard Floors

Hard surfaces like tile, hardwood, granite, cement, etc. are fairly easy to clean up. Using a damp towel or a mop, you can simply just wipe the excess away. When you are applying diatomaceous earth, it should be just a fine dusting of product, so wiping it up should not be difficult. After wiping, you can shake off the towel outside or in a garbage can, and then wash it.

The other option for cleaning DE from hard surfaces is to sweep it up. If sweeping is causing a lot of dust in the air, you can use a spray bottle with water to lightly moisten the diatomaceous earth so that the particles won’t become airborne so easily. After sweeping, just throw it away.

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Can A Mining Company Truly Be ‘Green’?

open pit mining

In a word – yes!  Just like our friend Kermit sings, being green ain’t easy…but it’s big, and it’s important.

Absorbent Products strives to be green by lessening our environmental impact wherever possible. We achieve this through careful planning and continuous improvements in our properties, our plant, and our products.

Our properties include 4 different mine sites in 2 countries from which we source our raw minerals.  These are dry-mine surface operations with no runoff or tailings to contaminate the undeveloped areas in which they are located.  Waste is minimized as we use over 98% of the mined materials.  All our mines conform to air quality and environmental regulations.  Reclaimed areas of our Red Lake property have been restored ahead of schedule and are now used as productive grazeland for cattle.

In our plant, we are always chasing the next efficiency.  We meet or exceed our prescribed air quality standards.  Upgrades to our machinery and optimization of our burner have allowed us to significantly reduce our consumption of both electricity and natural gas. Through process analysis and design we have minimized forklift and motor vehicle movement throughout our facility, further reducing emissions. We influence our customers, many of whom are large-volume national retailers, to reduce packaging and choose options that have lower environmental footprints for their brands.

You’ll find a wide spectrum of uses and applications throughout our products, from pest control to animal feed additives to livestock health management.  All our products are derived from natural, minimally processed minerals. Many of them are registered for organic agriculture; in fact, Absorbent Products has 28 different listings with the Organic Materials Review Institute and proudly supplies large organic operations.

Our PMRA- and EPA-registered insecticides are organic-appropriate and work through a mechanical mode of action rather than a chemical one.  As a result, insects do not develop a pesticide resistance, and there are no harmful residues lingering after treatment.  Non-toxic diatomaceous earth products like Stall Dry, Fresh Coop and Barn Fresh control odour and moisture in stalls and pens, making both animals and their human caretakers more comfortable and improving the retention of nutrients when composted after use.  Some of our items are even repurposed from other materials.  For example, our Wundercat and Stall Dry pine pellets are made of reclaimed waste wood, and our Can Blast blasting medium is comprised of ground recycled glass.

At Absorbent Products, sustainability and stewardship are defining values.  We are proud to be green, and we continue to invest in research and development so we can provide the very best products with the smallest environmental impact.

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That TICK-lish Feeling

ticks can cause lime disease and rocky mountain fever

Enjoying the great outdoors is popular with millions of North Americans. Our vast continent is blessed with an abundance of wilderness and there are lots of different ways to experience it. One downside to outdoor activity is picking up unwanted hangers-on…like little arachnid hitchhikers!

We are speaking, of course, about ticks. Although the tick family has many different subspecies, they all have several characteristics in common. Being arachnids like spiders, ticks have eight legs instead of six. They do not jump or fly. All ticks rely on blood for food. Most often this is mammalian blood, but ticks are also known to parasitize birds, reptiles and some amphibians. If a tick cannot find a wild host, it will move on its the next best opportunity, which is often a human or pet. Once a tick attaches itself to a host, it will consume from 200 to 600 times its own body weight in blood, growing many times its size in the process. Some ticks secrete a cement-like substance to help them attach to their host for a longer feed.

Not only unpleasant, ticks can also carry diseases, most of them bacterial. Lyme disease has gained a great deal of media attention, but other illnesses such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can also result from tick bites. However, these diseases are not transmitted immediately, so early removal of the tick can be key in preventing illness.

Preventative steps can be taken to minimize the chance of tick bites. Around the home, keep lawns clipped short and garbage secure. Reduce or eliminate clutter and objects where rodents may nest and discourage wildlife on your property as much as possible. Where there is wildlife, there will be ticks! Diatomaceous earth can be sprinkled in a light layer around the entire perimeter of the home to prevent any ticks (and other crawling insects) from entering. Diatomaceous earth is a physical insecticide that kills invertebrates like arachnids by desiccation.

When out of doors, wear light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants; not only does this make the dark ticks more visible, it will help prevent bites. Check people and animals thoroughly and frequently when outside and after coming home; especially around faces, feet and wherever the skin folds. For dogs and cats with very thick or long coats, you can use a hair dryer on its lowest setting to part the fur for inspection. You can also dust a light sprinkling of food-grade diatomaceous earth on and around the pet’s bedding and resting areas. Because of the physical mode of action, this is safe for people and animals but lethal to the ticks.

To find out more information and a multitude of uses for diatomaceous earth, be sure to check out our website at www.absorbentproducts.com.

And get yourself outside!

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Diatomaceous Earth: Complicated Name, Simple Product

Diamaceous. Diamotaceous. Dy-ma-may-shus. Dytomacious. Dimaceous. Deatomayceous. Dymacious.
Just what on Earth are we talking about?
Here at Absorbent Products’ British Columbia head office, we have heard just about every variation of ‘diatomaceous earth’ from folks throughout North America. It seems rather counterintuitive that such a simple substance should have such a complicated name. No wonder it’s so commonly referred to by its easiest form – ‘DE’!
The proper term is diatomaceous, pronounced “DI-a-tom-AY-shus”. The origin of the word is straightforward. The first part, “diatom”, is the name of the single-celled algae whose billions of skeletal remains forms the product. The second part, “-aceous”, is a Latin-derived suffix meaning “belonging to”, or “of the nature of”.
DE was identified in Germany in the 1830s, but it has been used by humans for various purposes for centuries. With such a long history, DE has become known by several different names, including:
Kieselgur (or kieselguhr) – the original term in German for DE, this is derived from kieselalgen, German for ‘diatoms’.
Diatomite – specifically, this is diatomaceous earth that has been lithified, or turned into sedimentary rock. Diatomite can be milled into many different particle sizes of DE, from chunky cat litter to insecticidal powder.
Fossil shell flour and dinosaur dust – like fossils or amber, DE is the product of creatures that lived and died millions of years ago.
Silica, also known as silicon dioxide – often used when referring to pure DE. Silica (chemical formula SiO2) is the main component in the algal skeletons that make up the DE. Silica is also an abundant compound in Earth’s crust, and an essential life-building block for most organisms.
No matter how you refer to it, or how you pronounce it, diatomaceous earth has many benefits and uses in pest control, agriculture, animal feed, pet care, and in industrial applications. You can see and learn more about our complete line of DE products at www.absorbentproducts.com

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Does Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth Have an Expiration Date?

Red Lake Earth (RLE) is a food chemical codex grade diatomaceous earth product that is registered for use in livestock feed as an anti-caking and flow agent (not to exceed 2% of total diet).

This product does not have an expiration date. As long as it is stored in a cool, dry area, it is good for an indefinite period of time. In fact, Red Lake Earth can even become wet and be used after it is left to dry! Once dry, the product will return to its natural state and continue to work as it did before it became wet.

A date stamp can be found on RLE packaging however this stamp is not an expiration date but rather the day that the product was packaged.

Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth is an all natural product. The age of the product does not affect its ability to function therefore a new bag of RLE will be just as effective as an older bag.

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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?

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 www.raysdobermans.com

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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

Image by Fresh water deposits of Diatomaceous Earth