Survivalists love hacks that can help out in many different situations. That’s why preppers stock up on diatomaceous earth (DE). This organic product keeps animals – including us humans – healthy, protects food storage, gardens, and living quarters, and can help filter water.
You say you’ve never heard of this miracle stuff, much less how to pronounce it? Take heart, you are not alone.
First off, say “die-uh-tuh-MAY-shous” a few times to get the hang of it. Or use its short handle DE.
Diatomaceous earth is completely natural. It’s made from the fossilized remains of tiny algae-like organisms called diatoms (“DI-a-tomz“) that lived in ancient lakes, rivers, and oceans. Today, diatoms are mined to manufacture the soft white or off-white powder that has slightly abrasive properties.
Silica (or silicon dioxide) occurs is one of the two most abundant elements found in the Earth’s crust. Silica sand is used to make concrete and mortar. It is also used as a fine grinding polish for glass and stone, in foundry molds, and in glass-making.
Silica gel is often used as a desiccant, something that removes moisture.
The silica powder made from DE feels soft to our fingers but, in fact, is like microscopic concertina wire for insects. Tiny razor-sharp edges cut down any small-scaled intruder that attempts to cross a perimeter.
It might surprise you to know that diatomaceous earth comes in a food grade form that is safe and healthy for human consumption. [CAUTION: Non-food grade diatomaceous earth is NOT SAFE to be inhaled or ingested.]
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) strictly regulates food grade DE, for obvious reasons. Lives are at stake. Products must be clean, uncontaminated, and safe for internal bodily use. Non-food grade DE is used mostly as an agricultural and household insecticide.
Preppers get food grade DE and the good news is that it doesn’t cost that much more than the non-USDA approved products. A 4-pound bag of garden DE costs about $8.50 as compared to about $13 for the same size bag of food grade DE. Both products are available at hardware stores and online.
Just look at all the things that DE can do, as we hope for the best while planning for the worst:
1. Food Storage
Keeping and well-stocked and regularly rotated emergency food pantry will count for nothing if moisture and bugs get to the goods before you do. DE acts very much like the small silica gel packs you find in some foodstuffs – sort of like the toy surprise inside a box of Cracker Jacks, except that this isn’t a toy, junior.
The weird thing about DE is that it’s safe for us to eat – in fact, it’s a great health supplement. But no insect, not even grain weevils, can stand up to the dicing and slicing injuries that diatomaceous earth delivers.
To keep a container of something dry like wheat or oats moisture-free and pest-free, just sprinkle in a thin layer of DE every few inches starting with the bottom layer.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is heel-dragging on studying diatomaceous earth for its health benefits. However, many people rave about the results they have gotten from intaking DE.
Consuming diatomaceous earth is child’s play: just dump one teaspoon into a glass of water and drink. The DE won’t dissolve but it will stay in suspension long enough for you to polish it off. Best results come from taking DE one hour before meals or two hours afterward.
Animals use the mineral silica in nearly every vital organ. Scientists believe it contributes to bone, tendon, joint, and muscle health. Ingesting diatomaceous earth not only provides a natural source of silica but also detoxifies and removes heavy metals from the body through natural elimination. DE kills the bugs inside you as effectively as it nails them in the pantry. Eliminating intestinal parasites is critical in a survival situation. We pick them up from handling dirt, drinking untreated water, and regular contact with livestock.
Good hygiene (notably cleanliness) promotes good health. Diatomaceous earth is a survival hack for DIY toothpaste, shampoo, or skin scrub. Imagine the scrubbing ability of DE toothpaste as it literally lacerates tea and coffee stains. Don’t overdo it, though – practitioners advise brushing with DE no more than once a week or so.
DE makes a great skin scrub because it exfoliates (removes dead skin from the top layers) and cleans out pores.
Hair lice and mites have no chance against shampoo laced with DE. As an added bonus, dry skin, dirt, oils, and grease are all cleansed away.
Protect your herds and flocks by adding diatomaceous earth to their water or feed. Bye-bye, intestinal parasites. Treat for lice, mites, and fleas by rubbing DE into animal fur or feathers. Also dust pens, nest boxes, coops, stall floors, and pet beds to prevent infestations.
Be sure to apply DE externally to animals only in places with good ventilation. Many animals are harmed by inhaling large amounts of fine powder or dust. Wait for DE dust to settle in a stall or other enclosed area before re-introducing the animal.
Diatomaceous earth is very handy around the house. It can be used as a polishing scrub for floors, shelves, counters – you name it. Used as a scouring powder, DE cleans away burned-on grime from pots and pans. Sprinkled on the toilet brush, its abrasive powers help clean the bowl.
DE also acts like baking soda and traps odors. It absorbs moisture, preventing mold and mildew.
Dust pillows, mattresses, blankets, and sleeping quarters with DE to thwart bed bugs and other unwanted, disease-carrying creepy-crawlies.
In the garden, added diatomaceous earth to the soil. The ground retains water better and holds onto nutrients while draining freely. It is commonly found in potting soils as a soil conditioner.
Low-cost, effective, multi-tasking food grade diatomaceous earth is a must-have for serious preppers. What other product do you know that can deliver so much good during a bad time?