15 Uses For Diatomaceous Earth

by Heather Dessinger


1. Deodorant

Though our primary detox pathways are through the liver, kidneys, colon and lymph system, our skin and lungs also assist with detoxification. We don’t want to block our body’s ability to sweat with antiperspirants, but we can keep things sweet in the underarm area by neutralizing odor. Diatomaceous Earth is great for this. And because it tends not to be quite as alkaline as baking soda – which is commonly used in homemade deodorants – it is often preferred by individuals who have experienced rashes or irritation after application. Here’s my recipe.

2. Toothpaste

Sprinkle a little Diatomaceous Earth over your tooth soap, toothpaste, or homemade tooth powder for extra deep cleaning power. Because it is abrasive only a little is needed to effectively remove stains, and only every once in awhile.

3. Facial Scrub & Mask

Because it is very fine, Diatomaceous Earth makes a gentle facial exfoliant and mask. In addition to it’s main component, silica, Diatomaceous Earth also contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, selenium and phosphorous. Since minerals can be absorbed through the skin, this is a wonderful way to complement a mineral-rich diet.

To use: Mix about 1 tablespoon of  diatomaceous earth with water, milk, aloe vera juice or diluted honey to make a thick paste. Using your fingertips, lightly massage  the paste onto your face using small, circular motions. Allow the paste to set for 1-2 minutes, then gently remove with a warm washcloth using small, circular motions. This last stage is when most of the exfoliation occurs.  Follow with toner (if you use it) and moisturizer.

Special note: Avoid using this scrub near the eyes or on chapped skin.

4. Supports Collagen Production

Yeah, you read that right. Silica, which is a type of silicon, is essential for collagen formation. In one study, animals that were supplemented with a small amount of highly bioavailable silicon had a 12% higher collagen concentration than animals who weren’t. (Source: Jarrow Formula’s application to FDA for their silicon supplement, BioSil)

Silica is found in many foods, such as  leeks, green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, cucumber, mango, and asparagus, and of course Diatomaceous Earth is about 80-90% silica.

5. Nourishes Hair

In this study, supplementing women with a bioavailable form of silicon (choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid) increased the strength and thickness of their hair. Because it is less bioavailable, the silica found in Diatomaceous Earth has to be consumed in higher quantities than the choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid. However, some people think this is a good thing because it is thought to have cleansing properties.

6. Strengthens Nails

Along with gelatin and biotin, silica is essential for building strong, healthy nails.

7. Supports Healthy Cholesterol Levels

This study suggests that Diatomaceous Earth may be beneficial for lipid metabolism and cholesterol levels. Who knew?

8. Strengthen Teeths and Bones

Silica is essential for the formation of the hard outer enamel that protects our teeth, and according to this PubMed article it is likewise beneficial for overall bone formation and health.

9. Food Storage

Diatomaceous Earth is added to grains and legumes such as wheat, maize, beans and barley to prevent spoilage. It keeps food dry, prevents mold, and protects against pests like weevils and beetles.

10. Bed Bugs

Diatomaceous Earth is registered with the FDA for use against bed bugs, fleas. Here is a tutorial for applying it throughout the home.


A couple of notes: First, the product in this tutorial contains 2% synthetic ingredients. Though it is certainly better than some pesticides used to eliminate bed bugs, I would go with 100% Diatomaceous Earth before trying it.

Second, there are a lot of cautions against breathing in Diatomaceous Earth. While I would definitely use a mask to apply using the method in the video, I found this statement over on I Breathe, I’m Hungry helpful:

“I received an email from Larry Smith, the President of Earthworks, who wanted to clear up the misconception about any dangers of inhaling food grade Diatomaceous Earth – here’s what he wrote:  ‘This is a misunderstanding about food grade Diatomaceous Earth.  There are 2 kinds of Diatomaceous Earth—food grade and filter grade (used in swimming pool and other filters)   Only the filter grade is dangerous to breathe.  The “dangerous” part of Diatomaceous Earth is the amount of crystalline silica that is in it.  Filter grade is 65% crystalline silica while food grade is less than 1/10 of 1%!  The World Health Organization. has said that Diatomaceous Earth is safe to breathe as long as the crystalline content is under 2%.  Food grade Diatomaceous Earth is 20X lower than even that level!!’

So no need to be concerned about any danger associated with using Diatomaceous Earth for pets, bedding, consumption or anything else – as long as it’s FOOD GRADE! “

11. Garden Pest Control

Diatomaceous Earth can be used to kill slugs, beetles, and other unwanted pests in the garden. Here’s how to use it. I would repeat the process every 2-3 days to break the life cycle of fleas.

12. Fleas

I can’t help but giggle a little when watching this video on how to treat pets for fleas using Diatomaceous Earth, but it has some very good info . . .


Something to keep in mind is that it’s also important to treat any carpet pets come into contact with, plus areas they like to nap in, etc. Here’s how to treat your carpet and home for fleas using Diatomaceous Earth.

13. Cockroach, Spider, Tick and Earwig Control

Diatomaceous Earth is approved for use against all of these home pests. Experts recommend using a hand duster to puff it into cracks and crevices where bugs are likely to hang out.

14. Fridge Deodorizer

Just like baking soda, a small container/box of Diatomaceous Earth can be left in the fridge or freezer to neutralize odors. Needs to be replaced every 1-2 weeks.

15. Garbage Can Deodorizer

Sprinkle in the bottom of the can to help neutralize odors.

Also, it leads to the funniest questions if you call Home Depot :)

What Kind Of Diatomaceous Earth Should I Use?

Only food grade, never stuff you find at the pool supply shop.

How I Take Diatomaceous Earth Internally

Most people say Diatomaceous Earth should be taken on an empty stomach. What this means is somewhat vague, but from what I can tell best practices are to take it:

1. First thing in the morning,  then wait 30 minutes to eat

2. Three hours after eating

When I take Diatomaceous Earth, I start with one teaspoon in a tall glass of water (8 oz.) and worked my way up to one tablespoon over the course of a week. Like all of the supplements I take, I schedule breaks from Diatomaceous Earth so that my body doesn’t get overwhelmed. In the case of Diatomaceous Earth, I prefer to use it for about a month continuously, then I take 1-2 teaspoons once or twice a week after that.

What Is Diatomaceous Earth, Anyway?

Good question! Food grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a fine powder made from diatoms, a type of fossilized phytoplankton. It looks like Rice Chex under a microscope, only in cylindrical form. Weird, right?


Here’s what makes it so unique:

It carries a negative ionic charge. This study suggests it helps to reduce parasites in chickens, and many experts believe this is due to its negative charge and cylindrical shape. The thinking behind this is that positively charged bacteria and parasites (plus some viruses) may be attracted to it like magnets are attracted to one another. Because of its shape, the pathogens get trapped in the center and carried out of the body.

It’s rich in silica, which is essential for healthy teeth, bones, hair, skin and nails.

It’s incredibly hard. On the hardness scale, diamonds are a 10 and Diatomaceous Earth is an 8. Because it is made up of tiny, sharp, very hard phytoplankton, Diatomaceous Earth works well as an abrasive. It attaches to the protective waxy outer coating of bugs/pests and absorbs it or scrapes it away, causing them to dry out and die. Likewise, it can be used to mechanically remove stains from teeth or slough off dry, dead skin. I have found it to be very effective in controlling odor in homemade deodorant. Here’s my recipe