This, Not That, Thursday – Diatomaceous Earth

This week’s installment of “This, Not That, Thursday” we’re talking about Diatomaceous Earth. It’s the “Jack of all trades” of natural home care products, and it has applications in the bathroom, kitchen, living room, and more. An added bonus is that DE is so safe and non-toxic, it’s frequently used in water filtration.

What Is Diatomaceous Earth, Anyway?

DE is, as mentioned, a white powder naturally occurring from the fossils of diatoms (a type of algae found in river beds and lake beds). The diatoms form a very hard shell of silica in a tubular shape.

When dry, DE appears very fine and soft to the naked eye but microscopically it has some very unique qualities:

  • High Silica Content: These fossilized diatoms have a very high silica content (which is used to build hair, skin, and nails).
  • Hard as Nails … or Diamonds: DE is very hard (only two points lower than diamonds on the hardness scale). It looks like a tiny cylindrical tube with many holes in it when viewed through a microscope.
  • Holds a Strong Negative Charge: DE has a very strong negative charge, which makes it purifying and beneficial in several ways.

Since the 1960s DE has been commonly used in things like toothpaste, as an anti-caking aid, for clarifying beer or wine, and to eliminate pests naturally. In fact, you’ve likely consumed products that contain traces of DE without even knowing it! While I’m usually not a fan of hidden ingredients, DE is one we don’t need to worry about.

Note: you should only use “food grade” Diatomaceous Earth if you intend to use it around your house. This is distinct from “pool grade” Diatomaceous Earth, which is coarser and designed to help filter pool water. 

Copper Polish

Do your copper pots look dull? A mixture of vegetable oil, vinegar, and DE can return it to its store-bought shine. Just rub the mixture vigorously into the pots until you can start to see that copper color come back.

Water Stain Removal

Notice a buildup around your water faucets? Mix together lemon, vinegar, vegetable oil, and DE in a small bowl. With a damp cloth, use that substance to scrub the deposits away.

Oil Spill Cleanup

Interestingly, DE can hold up to twice its weight in liquid. That makes it useful when you accidentally spill oil on your driveway. Just coat the spill in DE and let it soak the oil up. Then, sweep up the DE and throw it away. When you clean the area with hot, soapy water afterward, it’s much less likely to leave a permanent stain.

Shoe Deodorizer

Do your shoes sometimes resemble a petri dish? Hey, don’t be embarrassed. Fungus thrives in conditions exactly like the inside of your shoe. However, there’s one crucial ingredient that all fungi need in order to thrive: moisture.  

By sprinkling DE in your shoes, you’ll steal away that moisture and neutralize foot odors at the same time.

Refrigerator Deodorizer

DE absorbs odors. That’s incredibly valuable when you have an old fridge that is filled with the smells of years’ worth of groceries. 

To improve the odor, first, find a container (like a coffee can or a mason jar) and stick a few holes in the lid. Pour DE in the container, slap on the lid, and stick it inside of your refrigerator. As the air slowly circulates, you should notice it start to smell more neutral in about a week.

Repel Bugs & Fleas

Pest infestations in your home are maddening. But it’s possible to clear your home of insects without using pesticides. Since DE absorbs oils, a small sprinkling of the stuff can cause bugs to shrivel like raisins and die, even though the substance is harmless to humans and pets. If your home is under siege, thoroughly clean your bedding, carpets, and upholstery, then dust these surfaces with DE.

Have you ever used Diatomaceous Earth? What did you use it for? How did it work? Share below!

Leave a Reply