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There’s Big Buzz About Diatomaceous Earth: But What Is DE?

The interest and use of diatomaceous earth among agriculturalists and naturalists continues to increase due the numerous benefits that this versatile product can provide, without the concern of harsh toxins and chemicals. But what exactly is diatomaceous earth and how does it work?

The name diatomaceous earth comes from the fact that this natural product is made from the fossilized remains of tiny single-celled, micro-organisms called diatoms. They can be found where large bodies of fresh water existed over millions of years ago. When these organisms died, their skeletal remains settled to the bottom and became  fossilized. It is the fossilized exoskeletons of these diatoms that create diatomaceous earth and provide natural benefits to agriculture and animals.

Under a microscope, diatomaceous earth resembles a honeycomb. It is the sharp edges of the fossilized diatoms that function to lacerate the exoskeletons of insects. The powdery DE then absorbs their body fluid causing them to die from dehydration.

The benefits of diatomaceous earth are numerous and include the ability to:

  • Act as a natural insecticide for fleas, ticks and other unwanted insects
  • A resourceful aid to reduce odor and fly population in and around barns and stalls

Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth is a unique blend of diatomaceous earth and montmorillonite.

 Image by jpdodd

8 responses

  1. Ray

    Have you done research using RED LAKE DIATOMACEOUS EARTH as a soil ammendment? DE and Calcium Montmorillonite clays are used as soil ammendments for their water holding capacity and beneficial mineral content.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    • Hi Ray,

      Many of our customers do use Red Lake Earth for this purpose and find that it works great in their gardens. However, while testing may be done in the future, we do not currently have any conclusive testing to back up any claims suggesting that Red Lake Earth is effective as a soil amendment. There are however, other studies that have been conducted that have found DE to work well as a soil amendment.

      Please check out the following blog post for more info on a study using DE as a soil amendment conducted in Australia.

      March 12, 2012 at 10:35 am

  2. Sally Fiske

    I would like to know just HOW this earth is given to cattle as we are raising our own beef and pork.I have been able to find out about the mixture ratio given to hogs but what about beef? And am I to understand that this earth may be thrown upon the stall ground to help there as well?

    January 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

    • Hi Sally,

      Red Lake Earth can be mixed directly into the feed, put topically on to the feed or fed free choice (in this case simply place a bag of RLE into a large tub and your animals will consume what they need).

      A 2% mixture ratio is recommended for all animals. Animals can be fed Red Lake Earth in any amount that does not exceed 2% of their daily intake of feed however, most studies have found a 2% ratio to be most effective.

      Many people do also use Red Lake Earth in their stalls and barns to help control insects and external parasites. The DE can be sprinkled throughout the barn or stalls to help control these pests. It is best to sprinkle the powder in areas where it will not be kicked up in to the air too much (as you and the animals do not want to breathe in too much dust). For example, sprinkle the DE around the perimeter of the stall or barn, underneath bedding materials and in other cracks and crevices. Although it is not registered as a natural insecticide, Red Lake Earth is also often applied directly to animals to help control fleas, ticks and mites. When used for this purpose most people simply apply the DE by dusting it in to the animal’s coat using their hands.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:10 am


    January 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    • Hi Grayson,

      Diatomaceous earth is not approved for this use and therefore I cannot advise as to how effective it may be. Our product, Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth, is also not approved for human consumption. We are aware that individuals do consume our Red Lake Earth however this is at their own risk. I would suggest consulting a physician before using DE in this way. Ultimately, however, it is up to your discretion.

      What I can tell you is that many people do use our product as a natural insecticide (although it is not currently registered for this purpose either). Red Lake Earth works well to kill most crawling insects and is often used on animals for flea control. It can be applied to cracks and crevices in your home as well as in your yard. It is important that you do not get the powder in your eyes or ears and that you do not breathe in too much of the dust.

      January 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm

  4. Pat Beavis

    Can this product be used for dogs?

    January 15, 2012 at 8:29 am

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