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Long-Term Food Storage Tips Using Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth for long-term food storage

With the time, effort, and money you put into having a well-stocked pantry, you will want to make every effort you can to protect it. More than ever, people have to rely on their “pandemic” pantry to bulk out their day-to-day meals, making the need to preserve and store your goods long-term that much more critical.

Long-Term Food Storage

There are few things more disappointing than seeing the food you’ve squirreled away for a rainy day ruined by the natural elements or, even worse, bugs. By knowing what your food’s worst enemies are and understanding how they can infiltrate your food will allow you to take steps to prevent them from wreaking their havoc on your supply.

When everything from sunlight and moisture to bugs and bacteria can damage your food, planning to store long-term foodstuffs, such as rice, dry milk, beans, or sugar, you will want to consider repackaging them to more food-safe containers than those they often come in. In North America, most companies package their dry goods in packaging that is more suitable for short-term use, meaning those goods likely will not hold up during their long-term storage. While the USDA allows for certain food defects in our food sources, it’s ideal for preventing them as best you can at all costs.

Here are five easy-to-follow steps for useful food storage that can be used alone or combined, creating a multi-barrier approach, which provides even better food security.

Polyester Film Food Liners

Polyester film food liners, such as Mylar bags, are another option for storing your dry goods for the long haul. While not a 100% barrier to potential oxygen and bug contamination, adding a thin film liner will ensure you have multiple barriers to protect your food. There are thicker grades of plastic worth investing in if dedicated long-term storage is the goal with this lifestyle change because while costlier, they can last up to 20 years.

Food-Grade 5-Gallon Buckets 

Simple Food-grade 5-gallon buckets are among the most popular storage device for those who store large bulk quantities of food. Typically, a food-grade container has the number “2” stamped inside the recycling symbol or the acronym “HDPE” stamped below it. Be sure to clean any storage container with warm soapy water and dry it thoroughly before placing any food inside. Spill-proof lids are super important too, and caps with gaskets and gamma lids are both excellent choices because they don’t require a lid opener. 

Desiccant Packets

Desiccant packets are a decades-old technology used to moderate the moisture level within a container. While highly effective, it is essential to know that desiccant is highly inedible, and if in any way exposed to your stored food outside of it’s packet protection, the entire food item will need to be thrown out. Also, note that you should not use desiccant with certain food items, such as flour, sugar, and salt, as these items need a certain amount of moisture to stay edible and not turn into a hard brick.

Oxygen Absorbers

Oxygen absorbers, which begin working the moment they’re exposed to oxygen, start working efficiently when you open the package. They can come in assorted sizes and are typically expected to add 2,000 ccs of oxygen absorbers to one 5-gallon bucket. While non-toxic and won’t change your food’s taste or smell, oxygen absorbers are not edible.

Food-Grade Diatomaceous earth

Food-grade diatomaceous earth provides a natural and sustainable approach to long-term food storage. Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. It’s organic and safe to use around food, pets, and children. It will act as an insect and pest repellent, in addition to being a desiccating agent. Sprinkling DE around your food storage containers and in crucial entry points to your storage room creates a significant force field around your goods. 

Diatomaceous Earth is used as natural pest control

Diatomaceous Earth is used as natural pest control in empty grain silos and storage bins. It can also manage insects on plants, deodorize cat litter, and kill external parasites.

Please Note: Diatomaceous earth can be harmful to beneficial insects like honey bees. Please use it with caution. Only food-grade diatomaceous earth should be used as an insecticide and in animal feed. Food grade diatomaceous earth meets stringent regulations in terms of crystalline silica and heavy metal content, making it safe for animals to consume.

If you would like to purchase Diatomaceous Earth to aid in your long-term food storage endeavors, Absorbent Products has several food-grade Diatomaceous Earth products that are available across North America, as well as specially formulated consumer products for the rest of your home or farm.

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Bed Bug Control With Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth For Natural Bed Bug Treatment

As North America’s weather turns colder, the creepy crawlers who love to live in warm, dry locations move into our living spaces more and more. The most nefarious of these tiny invaders is the bed bug. Bed bugs prefer to live in warm, often soft, and fibrous locations like bedding, clothes, carpets, and furniture. As YOU are their constant supply of food, you make their move inside that much more appealing.

Treating With A Natural Pesticide

Diatomaceous Earth, such as our Last Crawl Pesticide Diatomaceous Earth product, is a natural and effective bed bug deterrent. Besides being cheap and free of harmful chemicals, it is easy to apply in and around your home while being safe to use near food, pets, and children.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) kills the adult bed bugs by absorbing the protective oily layer covering their exoskeleton. Without their oily coating, bed bugs will dehydrate and die within a few hours.

How Can I Effectively Treat For Bed Bugs Naturally

Before you begin, take steps to bug-proof your home by sealing up any cracks or crevices a bed bug can enter. By doing this first, the chances of re-infestation are much lower. If you think the bed bug infestation happened via bringing items or luggage into your home, remove those items from your home and treat using the steps below.

Effective natural bed bug treatment often comes down to 6 simple steps:

  1. Clean your home top to bottom, preferably with steam.
    • Bed bugs (and many other creepy crawlers) can not survive in high temperatures for more than a few hours. By steam cleaning your linens and furniture thoroughly with a steam cleaner, you will increase the overall temperature.
  2. Wash all fabrics and textiles, add a cup of vinegar to each load to boost the cleansing power.
    • Put all fabrics and washable linen through the laundry on the hottest setting available. Dry items on the highest heat setting available and store all washed materials in sealed plastic bags or containers. 
  3. Dust your carpets with Diatomaceous Earth, let sit, then vacuum.
    • Vacuum your rugs and carpets thoroughly. When possible, use a carpet cleaner to remove any bed bugs from the carpeting.
  4. Remove bedding and place in a sealed tote with Diatomaceous Earth and shake to coat/get into folds and let sit.
  5. Dust mattresses with Diatomaceous Earth, rub it in with your hand and let sit, vacuum clean.
    • Consider using a plastic mattress bag on your bed to seal it while the DE works.
  6. Repeat these processes with any fabric and soft fiber items or furniture that may be contaminated.
    • Dismantle you furniture as much as possible and vacuum every surface, paying particular attention to your furniture’s seams and frames.
    • Remove all your electrical faceplates and use an applicator to puff diatomaceous earth behind electrical switches and outlets.

Repeat this routine as needed. Follow these simple steps throughout every part of your home as necessary to break the cycle of infestation. With the continual use diatomaceous earth in your home, it will also help to prevent future infestations.

Please take a look at the extensive list of Absorbent Products diatomaceous earth products, all perfectly formulated for your home and agriculture needs.

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Diatomaceous Earth To Treat Goat Lice, Ticks & Fleas

Pest Populations Bloom In Early Spring & Late Winter

Goats can be host to two varieties of lice, both non-transmittable to humans as they are specific to the species but are highly contagious to other goats making them difficult, but not impossible, to eradicate. The two varieties of ticks goats are susceptible to are those that bite, and those who suck. Using food-grade diatomaceous earth to effectively manage and prevent a lice infestation can ensure your goats have a happy, healthy pest free life.

Early spring and late winter are when lice, tick & flea populations tend to bloom in numbers more rapidly. Whereas in the summer when you can keep your goat’s hair short, and the sun can keep pest numbers down – winter and spring infestations will likely take some additional intervention. While lice, tick & fleas are not life-threatening to healthy goats, they are uncomfortable and irritating to their skin, occasionally causing hair loss and potential anemia.

Symptoms Show Before The Bugs

A pest infestation is more often diagnosed by its symptoms rather than initial visual confirmation of the pests. If you part your goat’s hair, especially the hairs along their back, you will see small red headed bugs with brownish or yellow bodies. Biting lice variety will scurry out of view, the sucking lice will remain latched.

Pest eggs, nits, hatch about every 7 days, so treatment should be every 7 to 10 days as well until no signs of the nits or adult bugs are present. Take the time to choose the treatment you choose no only repels lice, tick & flea but also prevents the eggs from hatching and/or thriving.

Shaving To Control, Diatomaceous Earth To Prevent

To manage your pest population, shaving your goat’s fur as short as possible. With nothing to hold on to or to protect them from the sun, and the lice cannot survive. After shaving, clean out all the old bedding in their barn. Spreading a food-grade diatomaceous earth product like our Last Crawl™ Insect DEstroyer Insecticide Powder as a physical insecticide
that will not have any effect on the goats.

While no one looks forward to a lice, tick & flea infestation, these creatures are anything but indestructible. With a little preparation, regular treatment, and cleaning of their living spaces your goats will be able to live their best pest-free lives.

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Good Night, Sleep Tight… And You Probably Know The Rest

Bedbugs

Travelling to another city or country can be a grand
adventure.  However, bringing home bed
bugs is a sure way to end your vacation on a sour note.  With a few preventive measures you can ensure
your time away results in bringing home only pleasant memories.

Back in the 2000’s, I was employed as the office manager for a pest control company in a small British Columbia town.  That decade saw a huge resurgence in bed bug infestations, due in large part to increases in domestic and international travel, and the decline of prophylactic pesticide application in public places. I received many a panicked call at the office from anxious folks concerned about biting creepy-crawlies in their beds.

During that time, my husband and I took our 3 children – ages 6, 10 and 12 – on a 10-day excursion through` southern Alberta.  The kids were fascinated by Drumheller dinosaurs and the West Edmonton Mall, but they always remembered my line of work.  Thorough bed bug inspections in every new hotel room became routine.

No luggage even came into the room until inspection had been
done.  If that’s not possible for you,
pile your luggage in the bathtub until you feel safe to unpack.  The porcelain of the tub will be too smooth
for bed bugs to climb, and – thankfully – bed bugs are wingless and cannot fly.

The most obvious spot to inspect should also be your first – the bed.  Even though bed bugs can survive months without feeding, the only thing they do eat is human blood; and with rare exception they only feed at night. Bed bugs will only travel 5 to 20 feet from their harborage, so if they’re present they will likely be close to their food source.  

Move aside the blankets and sheets so the mattress is exposed.  Inspect all seams and folds, and check the
head, foot and sides of the mattress carefully. You are looking for any dark or
black spots, which are bed bug droppings (the remnants of digested blood).  Other signs of bed bug presence are reddish
streaks (blood from crushed bugs) or bed bug casings, which are the shells shed
by the bugs as they reach a new growth stage. 
The bugs themselves are brown or reddish-brown and resemble flattish
apple seeds with six legs.

Next, check any upholstered furniture, especially sofas and
sofa beds.  Pay careful attention to any
cracks in the wood frames of any furnishings for any droppings, casings, or
bugs.  Bed bugs prefer wood and fabric
habitats over plastic or metal.  Inspect
the carpeting and check over the carpet edges thoroughly.

If the bed, carpet and furniture show no signs of infestation, it’s highly likely that your room is bug free.  Go ahead and unpack.  Should you find anything of concern, you may want to speak to the hotel staff about a different room.  Be warned, however; bed bugs travel easily between rooms and through walls.  Where one room is infested, there’s a very good chance that others in the same building are as well.  And bed bugs thrive in the same environmental conditions that humans do: warm temperatures and medium to high relative humidity. ‘Forewarned is forearmed’ may sound like an overused cliché, but nothing could be truer when it comes to bed bugs.   Be aware, be observant, and make your holiday a happy one!

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Diatomaceous Earth To Aid In Composting

Diatomaceous Earth used in a home compost pile with tolls surrounding it.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a naturally occurring substance mined from specific lakebed deposits. Made up of fossilized single-celled planktonic algae called diatoms, the silica-rich shells of these microscopic organisms give this chalk-like substance exceptional porosity and abrasive property. With many commercial, agricultural and household uses, DE can even play a pivotal role in the health of your backyard compost pile!

Below is a collection of consumer tested application methods in which consumers have used diatomaceous earth like our Stall Dry product to help them with their at-home composting.

Unprocessed manure and compost piles can play host to the larvae of many types of flies. Most, like the common housefly, are harmless, since they do not often bite humans or animals, or carry harmful diseases. Outside of utilizing the pest control power of backyard chickens, the potential for a build-up of potentially harmful maggots could potentially contaminate your composting efforts. A simple sprinkle of a food-grade Diatomaceous Earth-based insecticide will keep your compost pile happy.

Due to its inert nature, Diatomaceous Earth can also be used as a chemical-free deodorant for your compost pile. With smells often being caused by an abundance of wet ingredients like kitchen wastes and fallen fruit, the absorbent nature of DE will allow you to deodorize the pile making it easier to integrate its use into your day-to-day life. 

As it only affects hard-bodied insects, peppering a light sprinkle of food-grade Diatomaceous Earth on the top-layer of your composting bin will allow you to manage pests and fruit-flies from your compost pile while still creating a nurturing and safe environment for your worms. Many people also find adding DE to worming compost can aid in some beneficial digesting and grinding of the food for the worms while benefiting the soil as it contains many good trace minerals.

*When using DE in your working compost be sure to use sparingly and do not mix in so that it does not pull too much moisture from the worms ecosystem.

Rodents like mice, moles, and rats can wreck your garden compost in no time, and if you don’t want to harm them, Diatomaceous Earth is here to help. Rodents hate the strong smells of essential oils like peppermint and lemon citrus and as Diatomaceous Earth is an excellent absorbent. These two ingredients can be combined to create the most potent organic rodent repellent that can keep the rodents at bay when sprinkled around the perimeter of your composting bin.

For a full list of items we suggest you add to your compost bin (in addition to DE) we have sourced a list from our customers on the blog. 

Now you’re ready to compost!

Please note: Stall DRY can also be added directly to the compost to help keep down the odor and absorb any excess liquid (just be sure not to add too much Stall DRY, as you want the compost to keep a wet/dry balance).

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Solutions for Those Winter Whoas!

Dog with snow shovel

 Winter is an enjoyable time of year for many folks.  When the snow starts falling, many people head outdoors for a myriad of recreational pursuits.  Of course, day-to-day activities still must be accomplished reliably.  Shoveling away the snow often results in ice-covered surfaces, such as roads and walkways, which require treatment to reduce or eliminate falls and accidents.

 

The most popular ice treatment has traditionally been rock salt (sodium chloride). While cheap and plentiful, rock salt is slow to act and it works even slower as temperatures drop.  Below -17 degrees Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit), the melting action of rock salt has so little effect that it takes a full pound of salt to melt just four pounds of ice!

Adding calcium chloride to traditional rock salt results in a product that works better and faster.  The calcium chloride absorbs moisture from the surrounding environment, and actually generates heat in an exothermic reaction as it melts ice to form a brine.  A calcium chloride/rock salt combination remains effective at far lower temperatures than just rock salt alone, and melts the ice more rapidly.

Absorbent Products’ line of Diamond Glacier Ice Melters feature a calcium chloride formulation for rapid melting and low-temperature effectiveness, as well as soluble dyes for easy visibility and application. 

An alternative ice treatment gaining popularity is granular traction aid.  Instead of brining away the ice, traction aid is applied to the top of the ice to reduce slipperiness and improve grip.  As there is no melting action, roads and pathways remain dry and clean. 

Absorbent Products’ Diamond Glacier Traction Aid is made of volcanic zeolite, which has a strong, honeycomb-like molecular structure.  These granules can withstand foot or vehicle traffic without being crushed, making them a durable and economical choice for safety applications. 

An added benefit of zeolite is there is no chance of harming pets or plants, as it is a natural, inert mineral.  Any overapplication can easily be swept onto lawns or shrubbery.  In fact, this is beneficial to vegetation as zeolite is a registered soil conditioner.  Zeolite is also used as a non-toxic, chemical free animal feed additive so there is no danger of poisoning if it is accidentally ingested.

 

Get out there and enjoy winter…safely!

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How do you get water out of a rock?

Zeolite

How do you get water out of a rock?  Easy – if that rock is a zeolite!

In 1756, Swedish scientist Axel Cronstedt discovered that
heating stilbite (a natural zeolite species) to a high temperature caused the
rock to steam, as if there was water inside it.  Cronstedt coined the term “zeolite”, a
combination of the Greek words for “to boil” (zeo) and “stone” (lithos).  We now know that the structure of zeolite can
‘trap’ and hold water molecules.

Zeolites are composed of molecules of oxygen, aluminum, and
silica that form interlinked tetrahedra. 
These structures are like molecular cages, which can trap and hold other
molecules such as water.

The zeolite cages retain the water and release it slowly,
making zeolite a very useful addition to soils and growth media. Zeolite can
also be pretreated with elemental nutrients such as potassium; the zeolite
holds the potassium and releases it slowly into the soil, making it an
effective slow release fertilizer.

The stable tetrahedra structure of zeolite provides the
additional benefit of soil aeration. 
Zeolite, unlike other mineral additives, does not break down over
time.  Adding a soil amendment like
Absorbent Products’ Green Patch™ increases the soil’s porosity and allows more
oxygen to reach the plant root systems.

There are 40 naturally occurring zeolite species, and over
200 more that have been created artificially. Natural zeolites were formed
thousands to millions of years ago, in areas where volcanic rock and ash
reacted with alkaline groundwater.  Synthetic
zeolites can be ‘custom-made’ so that their tetrahedra are specifically shaped
to encapsulate the target material.  Due
to this, synthetic zeolites are used in a wide variety of industrial
applications, from petrochemical processing to nuclear radiation remediation.

One particular natural species of zeolite, called clinoptilolite,
has a strong exchange affinity for ammonium. 
This makes it an excellent odour absorber when used for cat litter and
livestock bedding, as ammonia is trapped and held.  Absorbent Products’ line of zeolite
treatments for animal waste management, such as Horse Sense™ and Poultry
Sense™, are all made from our deposit of natural clinoptilolite located in the
mountains of southern British Columbia. 
For more information on the many uses of zeolite and our products, give
us a call!

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Important Vegetable Gardening Tips for Beginners

Welcome to the world of gardening! If you’re new to this fun and rewarding activity, here are some important tips to help you out along the way!

A sunny area with level ground is the best place to plant a vegetable garden. Planting on level ground will make it much easier to prepare the soil, plant and irrigate your vegetables. In the case that planting on a level surface is not an option, be sure to run your rows across the slope, rather than up and down. This will help to keep the soil from washing away when watering your garden.

Avoid planting a garden under trees as well as on the north side of buildings, shrubs or other tall objects, as they will block the sunlight.

When planning the layout of your garden, place the tallest plants on the north side. This will prevent them from blocking shorter plants from receiving sunlight.

Be sure to leave enough space between the rows or beds so that you can easily move around to work and water the plants.

Try to keep your soil evenly moist while your vegetables are growing. To do so, apply water when you see that the top 1 – 2 inches (2.5 – 5 cm) of soil is dry.

Water only the base of your plants. Watering from above will waste water (through evaporation) and moisture on the foliage of your plants can potentially lead to leaf diseases.

Try to move your crops around (or plant different crops) after each season. Planting the same crop (or crops from the same family) in the same area two years in a row may encourage pests that feed on certain crops to inhabit the soil in these areas.

Image by mccun934

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Stall DRY in Compost

Stall DRY is used to control wetness, odor and ammonia in stalls, cages and other animal dwellings. It is an all natural product and is safe to use with nearly all animals.

When used with bedding and waste that is composted, Stall DRY is safe to be composted and used in the garden. In fact, as a natural product containing food grade diatomaceous earth, individuals have found that Stall DRY provides many benefits, resulting in a more compostable and drier product that is easier to spread in the garden. When contained in compost and added to the garden, Stall DRY can also help to aerate the soil and will act as a natural insecticide.

Mixed with water, Stall DRY has a pH of approximately 6 while pure water has a pH of 7 or 8. Therefore adding Stall DRY to your compost and garden will not affect the pH of the soil too drastically and will not harm your plants (unless they are highly sensitive to changes in pH).

Please note: any end-product meant for human consumption that has come in contact with Stall DRY should be washed well before being consumed. This is due to the fact that government regulations state that no food grade diatomaceous earth should be present in any end-product that is meant for human consumption.

Image by suavehouse113

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Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth: A New Construction Material?

While many people find food grade diatomaceous earth a very useful form of pest control to use around their homes and in their gardens, some individuals have become very creative in their attempt to protect their homes from insects. Recently, individuals have informed us that they have applied DE not only around the perimeter of their homes, basements and attics but that they have also sprinkled diatomaceous earth in the walls of their homes during construction, in an attempt to deter termites and other crawling insects! In fact, customers who applied food grade diatomaceous earth in the walls of their home over 8 years ago have seen great results and have never had a termite problem!

Individuals have found diatomaceous earth to be very effective as an insecticide. In a world where sustainability is key, individuals prefer to use this natural method of insect control in order to minimize their impact on the environment.

We love to learn about your creative uses for this amazing product and to hear about the results that you have seen! Please share your story using the form below!

Image by Martin Pettitt