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Naturally Occurring Edible Pesticide

by Felicia Williams

Although the average consumer ingests pesticides daily in the non-organic foods purchased at the supermarket, the thought of intentionally whipping a batch of pesticide for consumption sounds depraved. Before you shake our head in disgust, you should know there is a naturally occurring substance called diatomaceous earth that is harmless to humans, but deadly to insects.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is the fossilized remains of microscopic single-celled algae organisms. These single-celled organisms are called diatoms. Diatoms have no water preference. They survive just as well in freshwater as they do in saltwater. As a result, there are ample supplies of fossilized remains along the banks of oceans, lakes and streams. The diatom remains are mined, ground into a fine powder and sold as diatomaceous earth.

Diatomaceous Earth

Before discussing the benefits of diatomaceous earth, there are a few things about the diatom you should know. During its lifetime, each microscopic organism, which is predominantly comprised of silica (over 80%), develops a geometrically impressive and texturally abrasive skeletal structure. Being made predominantly of silica, the tiny skeletal structure is strong. On the mineral hardness scale, silica comes in at 7 (for comparison purposes, diamonds top the hardness scale at 10).

The hard abrasive quality of the diatom is what makes diatomaceous earth great for pest control. The 80% silica makes it attractive for human consumption.

Diatomaceous Earth and Pest Control

Although diatomaceous earth is ground into a soft, easy to manage powder, each individual granule has not lost its hardness or abrasive texture. The jagged edges of the individual particles are what make DE detrimental to insects.

Unlike humans, insect skeletal structure resides on the outside (exoderm). As an insect comes into contact with diatomaceous earth, the jagged edges, which are harder and stronger than the insect’s skeleton, begin to cut and tear the skeleton away. The disintegration of the outer skeleton causes the insect to die.

DE is not discriminating. Any exoderm creature coming into contact with diatomaceous earth dies. That goes for the unwanted pests such as ants and spiders and the not so harmful ladybug. Be careful how you use this powerful bug killer.

Ingesting Diatomaceous Earth for Your Health

Diatomaceous Earth

Because diatomaceous earth is abundant in silica, humans benefit from mixing DE in water and drinking it. Silica is an integral part in the creation of collagen. Collagen is responsible for healthy bones, joints, cartilage and a healthy heart, just to name a few of the benefits. Among other benefits, silica is integral in improving the quality and strength of hair, nails and skin. It is also attributed with slowing the signs of aging.

According to Professor Adolf Butenandt, the 1939 Nobel Prize winner for chemistry, life cannot exist without silica. This gives you a hint as to why taking a dose of silica-rich diatomaceous earth is a good idea.

Being rich in silica is not the only reason for ingesting diatomaceous earth. The very same bug-killing properties that kill insects, work in the human system to kill parasites, harmful bacteria and fungi.

Diatomaceous earth has a negative ion charge. Bad bacteria, fungi and parasites have a positive ion charge. The diatomaceous earth attracts the positively charged harmful entities and binds with them. After binding, the combo is eliminated from the body through normal excretion. Parasites that are too large to bind with the negative ion, meet the same fate as the exoderm insect. DE’s jagged edges destroy parasites, which then get eliminated from the body.

Warnings Associated with Diatomaceous Earth

If you intend to ingest DE, use it around the garden or in your home, make sure to purchase food grade diatomaceous earth. The DE used for swimming pool filters is not food grade and contains harmful chemicals that must not be ingested or sprinkled in the garden.

Additionally, because DE is so finely ground, be careful not to inhale it. If you’re applying diatomaceous earth to your garden on a windy day, use a protective mask to avoid inhaling the dust.

About the Author: Felicia Williams is a wife, mother and grandmother who likes to write about a host of topics.

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Last Modified: 24 March 2020

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