Diatomaceous earth, also known as diatomite, is a naturally occurring substance made of fossilized remains of a type of hard shelled algae called diatoms. It consists mostly of silica with small amounts of alumina and iron oxide. It was discovered sometime around 1836 in Lüneburg Heath in Germany by Peter Kasten, who initially mistook it for limestone. It has since been discovered in many other parts of the world, where it is mined for it vast array of different uses.
Uses of diatomaceous earth
- Alfred Nobel discovered that it could be used to make nitroglycerin more stable when it was mixed together. He patented this invention as dynamite.
- Today, the most common use of diatomaceous earth is in filtration products. It is very common in swimming pool filters, but is used in many other industries as a filtering material.
- Due to its gentle abrasive qualities it has been used in toothpaste, facial/body scrubs and in metal polish.
- In powdered form diatomaceous earth makes a very effective insecticide. It is commonly used for killing infestations of cockroaches, fleas, ants and bedbugs.
- It is used as an anti-caking agent and pesticide for grain storage. Some farmers also add it to stock feed to kill parasitic worms in their animals.
- It is used to clean up toxic liquids because it readily absorbs them and makes it much easier to clean up.