Diatomaceous earth, also known as diatomite, is a natural white crystalline powder made from the fossilized shells of diatoms. Diatoms are tiny, single-celled algae found in plankton in huge numbers. Silica, a naturally occurring substance, is the main constituent of their skeleton. This powder has a number of applications.
- Diatomaceous earth is a natural pesticide with inherent mineral content. Some of the minerals present are magnesium, calcium, sodium, iron, and silicon. Trace amounts of boron, manganese, copper, zirconium, and titanium can also be found.
- Nitroglycerin acid is made more stable if it is absorbed in diatomite. This facilitates the easy and safe transportation of nitroglycerin when mixed with diatomite. Alfred Nobel discovered this in 1866, and in 1867, he got a patent for the mixture of diatomite and nitroglycerin that he named as dynamite.
- In the scientific field, this siliceous diatom is used to remove the DNA from a chromosome in the presence of agents such as guanidinium hydrochloride, guanidinium thiocyanate, and sodium iodide.
- It is mostly used as an insecticide. The dust of diatomaceous earth has razor-sharp edges that are lethal to the insects. The insects are killed because the sharp edges of this powder cut through them upon being sprayed.
- It is used to kill intestinal worms in cats and dogs. You can mix one teaspoon of this powder with the cat or dog feed. In large dogs, give approximately 1 tbsp. The silicon content in this powder dissolves in the mouthparts of the worm and kills it.
- It is used to control insects such as silverfish, ants, cockroaches, and mites. You could also use it on fleas, beetles, and snails.
- It can be sprinkled under stoves, inside the cabinets, sinks, and garbage cans. It can be used to treat the pests and insects that hide between the frames of windows, doors, drains, and cracks.
- It is used to clean cooking vessels because of its non-toxic nature.
- Diatomaceous earth is one of the ingredients used in toothpaste and metal polishes because of its abrasive nature.
- It is used to clean spills because of its absorbent nature. Its high porosity makes it an important absorbent in cleaning toxic chemicals.
- One of its forms is employed as a filter medium, especially for swimming pools because of its high porosity.
- As it can act as a thermal heat barrier, it is used in making fire-resistant safes.