Diatomaceous earth is something every prepper needs but that many preppers have never heard of. It kills critters in your food and around the house, it has many health benefits, it’s cost-effective, and it’s 100% natural. If you’re a prepper or a homesteader and you aren’t using diatomaceous earth (DE), you’re missing out.
What It Is
Every large body of water contains a type of algae known as diatoms. They are unicellular organisms enclosed in silica, and when they die their skeletal remains sink to the bottom and become fossilized. Over time, these fossils accumulate and form a sedimentary layer known as diatomaceous earth (DE).
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DE is gathered and sold in two forms: industrial grade and food grade. Industrial grade DE has many uses, but it is mainly used in filtration systems such as pool filters. It is not considered safe to consume or spread around your property. Food grade DE, on the other hand, is perfectly safe to consume and use on pets, plants, carpets, and anywhere else.
How It Works
Fossilized diatoms have many sharp points and edges, so when they come in contact with insects they scratch up the waxy coating on their exoskeletons. This causes insects to dry out and die, usually within an hour. Diatomaceous earth kills ants, aphids, beetles, fleas, flies, mealworms, mites, lice, slugs, snails, ticks, weevils, and all sorts of other insects.
Not only is it safe and non-toxic, bugs can never develop an immunity to it. And because it absorbs moisture, it keeps foods from clumping, germinating, or growing moldy. As long as you keep DE dry, it has an unlimited shelf life.
How To Use It
Food grade diatomaceous earth is mainly used in wheat and flour, but it can also be mixed with beans, corn, legumes, oats, rice, and any other dry food that bugs might contaminate. There’s no wrong way to apply DE, as long as it’s thoroughly mixed into your food.
You’ll need 1-2 cups of DE per 50 pounds of food (or 1-2 teaspoons of DE per 1 pound of food). If you’re planning on storing food for more than just a few years, the upper limit is probably better. 1 cup of DE weighs 2.25 ounces, so you should get at least 70 cups out of a 10 pound bag.
To mix in the DE, I recommend using a 5 gallon bucket and gamma seal lid. Pour in a pound of food and a teaspoon of DE, screw on the lid, and roll the bucket around or shake it up until the food and DE are mixed together.
Then add another pound of food and another teaspoon of DE and repeat. If you don’t have a bucket and lid, just stir it up with a large stick or utensil. When you’re done, pour your food into mylar bags and start sealing them.
Although food grade DE is safe, be aware that it can severely dry out your skin, eyes, throat, and sinuses. DE is abrasive and it absorbs moisture, so avoid getting it anywhere on your body and be careful not to inhale the dust.
Just to be sure, you should wear gloves, a dust mask, and some goggles while handling DE. Once the dust settles there is nothing to worry about.
Before I continue, I must point out that the following claims about diatomaceous earth have not been evaluated by the FDA and should not substitute for advice from your doctor or pharmacist. This information is based on reviews by people who have used diatomaceous earth to improve their health.
Thousands of people have reported all sorts of health benefits from adding DE to their diets. This is probably because DE is a great source of silica, an important part of the human diet. Silica is good for your skin, nails, hair, teeth, bones, and joints. It is also good for vital organs such as the liver, the lungs, and the heart.
Unfortunately, people no longer consume as much silica as they used to, mainly because of modern agricultural practices. Pesticides and certain fertilizers along with the invention of hybrid foods have significantly reduced the amount of silica in our diets.
To make up for this deficiency, some people take 1-2 tablespoons of diatomaceous earth every day. It can be mixed with applesauce, yogurt, juice, protein shakes, soda, or plain water. People who do this have reported less joint pain, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, stable blood sugar, more energy, more restful sleep, healthier skin, stronger nails and hair, and faster weight loss.
DE has also been known to absorb endotoxins, eliminate parasites, regulate digestion, and stop urinary tract infections. Because it’s abrasive, it also scrubs intestinal linings and makes it easier for the body to absorb nutrients.
Some people add a bit to their toothpaste and face wash to give their teeth and skin a better scrub. There haven’t been many long-term studies of the effects of DE on human health, but it is definitely safe to consume. And based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews, it is probably worth a try.
Diatomaceous earth isn’t just good for killing critters in food. It can also kill bugs anywhere else they are found. You can sprinkle it on carpets and bedding, spread it on the floors of closets and pantries, make a border around the outside of your house, dust it on flowers and vegetable gardens, spread it around your yard, pour it on ant hills, and use it on pets to kill fleas. Speaking of pets, you can add DE to their food for worm and parasite control.
The absorbent qualities of DE also make it good for deodorizing. You can sprinkle some in garbage cans and litter boxes, or you can set an open jar in your refrigerator. For drawers and boxes, some people put DE in a matchstick box, poke holes in it, and place it in the back.
It can also be used to soak up spills (oil, juice, milk, or anything liquid) on concrete, wood, tile, and carpet. And when mixed with water or lemon juice, DE can be used to polish metals, sinks, and bathroom surfaces.
Diatomaceous earth is a great investment for any prepper or homesteader. And at $2 a pound, it is very cost-effective. Again, make sure it is food grade before you purchase it. I myself purchased this 10 pound bag and am very happy with it.