What is Diatomaceous Earth?

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

As it becomes more popular, many people are asking online 'what is diatomaceous earth?' Well, we've definitely got the answer here at Diatomaceous Planet!

Diatomaceous Earth is an all-natural product that can be used safely, and with many lasting benefits. The higher quality grade that is safe for all these uses. It is most commonly called Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth.

The appearance is typically a slightly off-white colour. As a substance, its texture is a very soft powder, nearly silky to the touch.

Having such a unique texture on a microscopic level is exactly what gives Food Grade DE it’s amazing effects in a wide variety of practical uses. The porous yet rock-hard composition is what makes a high quality Diatomaceous Earth the amazing product we all know and love...

Diatomaceous Earth Composition

Before Diatomaceous Earth is mined and processed, it first exists as Algae. These algae patches are composed of single-celled plants called Diatoms. They represent the largest source of oxygen in the world. Diatoms are in nearly any ocean or freshwater lake.

Across the world there is a wide variety of variation, where each region has it’s own kind of diatom.

A diatom’s life relies on photosynthesis, just like any plant; collecting sunlight is essential. Living diatoms typically live on the surface of the ocean in large patches; this helps to maximize photosynthesis.

After the diatoms can feed on a steady light source, they then grow and multiply into new single cell organisms.

Another unique feature to diatoms, is their silica (siliceous) based cell-wall. This is very different from most plant-life, which has a carbon cell wall.

This feature is very important, as when the diatom is fossilized across time, it is the silica based skeleton that remains. When collected and refined, we have a beautiful soft and silky white powder that is nearly pure amorphous silica, called Diatomaceous Earth.

Diatomaceous Earth and Living Diatoms

Fossilized Diatoms

As we discussed above, Diatoms are originally living algae. They live as single celled plants that dwell on the surface of oceans and lakes to photosynthesis. So how do all these living diatoms transform into Diatomaceous Earth?

Over time the microscopic skeletons of diatoms are left behind, as a silica based shell. Imagine a huge lake from thousands of years ago, and every year the lake goes through its normal bloom cycles. That means that each year, another layer of diatom remains (shells) fall to the lake bed.

Layer upon layer accumulates, as each year and season passes. Over centuries and millennia, these remains collect to form underwater drifts of sediment. There are literally millions of tons of diatom shells (natural diatomaceous earth deposits) all over the world!

Let’s say a freshwater lake went through this process thousands of times, with trillions of diatoms. Over vast amounts of time, a deep reservoir of raw diatomite accumulates. The number of diatoms in one reservoir is actually impossible to calculate, the number would be so high!

Considering how many millions of years the Earth has been here, there sure are a lot of fossilized diatoms. Enough that many countries have DE mines, using it for a wide array of industrial applications.

Algae or Diatomite?

Not every reservoir of DE is pure, and not all forms come from freshwater sources either. In fact, many times the presence of fossilized diatoms is detectable, but mixed with other sediments to such a high degree that the source is not usable. That is why sourcing and researching your brand, before buying, is a worthy measure to practice.

For example, the presence of diatoms in sediment does not make it real Diatomaceous Earth.

The pure deposits called Diatomite, is where the best Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is made. Again, it becomes more clear why the purity and quality of DE is so vitally important.

Our product is sourced from freshwater reservoirs, with a very high purity level. We are proud to offer the highest quality available, from North American sources.

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth Freshwater Sources

Freshwater Reservoirs

All forms of Diatomaceous Earth are derived from special mining sites, which were ancient sea and lake beds. These aquatic environments were perfect for diatoms to proliferate.

Each location that DE is discovered is unique. Therefore, each deposit has a diatoms with a unique composition, making it a practical way to identify biological patterns in world regions.

It’s important to note as well that there are millions of tons of algae (diatoms) alive in all the oceans, seas, and lakes today. Just remember, living algae and phytoplankton is not diatomaceous earth, because it has not undergone a natural fossilization process.


The appearance of a diatomite mine is very interesting. You’ll see what appears to be a field of very fine white rock, with a crumbly appearance. It’s amazing to think how many thousands of years it would take to form just one of these freshwater reservoirs.

Once discovered, the mine’s diatom qualities and species are tested, and then further analysis can determine if there is a high quality product available for processing. Eventually, some of these locations become functioning Diatomite mines and reservoirs.

It’s important to note that not all diatomaceous earth is safe, and this has everything to do with which reservoir it has been mined from. For instance, there are many grades of diatomaceous earth which are mined from ancient sea beds (salt water), instead of ancient freshwater lake beds. Often the quality of salt water mined DE is unsafe, resulting in high levels of crystalline silica. Read more later in this article for important details about crystalline silica in Diatomaceous Earth products.

At Diatomaceous Planet, all our DE is Food Grade quality, and mined from a specific freshwater lake bed in the USA (Nevada Area). This mining location has yielded the highest quality product for many decades. Reliable applications range from agriculture, pets, personal, and industrial uses.

There are even charity organizations which create water filtration devices from this very same DE. We are proud and grateful to offer the highest quality to all our customers alike.

Diatomaceous Earth compared to Quartz Silica

Diatomaceous Earth is Amorphous Silica

Many people have encountered silica or quartz, but what does it mean when silica is amorphous?

This information page is designed to clear up some common questions, and help you understand with more confidence what a good quality diatomaceous earth really is...

Often we find quartz rocks in gravel, or on beaches and waterfronts. The crystal form is easily recognizable; a recognizable sparkle or glitter in appearance. In geology, there are two types of quartz formations; massive and crystal. Massive quartz appears translucent, and is in all kinds of jagged shapes.

On the other hand, fully formed quartz crystals have six pronounced edges, and are ‘crystal’ clear (transparent) like pure glass.

But when do we find amorphous silica in such a natural form, instead of it being crystallized? A great example is limestone, and a resulting substance called calcite, which is common chalk powder.

Comparing Diatomaceous Earth and Chalk

Many people have used chalk at one time or another, however the chalk must first be processed from the limestone in order for it to become a usable product. Both quartz rocks (massive and crystals) and chalk are silica, but very different substances.

In the same way Diatomaceous Earth is another form of natural silica, derived from uniquely fossilized algae. The proper name for DE when it is being mined in rock form is Diatomite.

This pure and crumbly soft rock is crushed and collected, where later a separation process is included in order to refine and remove other sediments (usually feldspars, and basalt clays).

Once the basic drying and separation process is complete, a pure silky powder called Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is the result.

Diatomaceous Earth Safety and Precaution

The word siliceous (made of silica) is not very commonly used. However, when it comes to DE, it’s important that we understand its meaning.

Because DE is a very unique and natural form of silica, the different kinds of silica become even more important. Not all kinds of silica are alike, we can help explain some of the major differences right here...

Most commonly, people will see silica when it is used to eliminate moisture in clothing, or food products. These small packets of silica are usually less than a gram of tiny glass-like granules. Inside the packet is crystalline silica.

This form of silica is created by a process called calcination, which uses extreme temperatures and compression.

Crystalline silica can be very dangerous. Because it is a glass form of silica, the product is no longer safe for handling.

When Diatomaceous Earth is not a food grade, it is usually for specific industrial applications.

Please stay away from any DE products that do not clearly say Food Grade.

Not Food Grade?

Non food grade DE products have proven dangerous in many environments, especially when there is prolonged exposure. An example of a non-food grade DE product is a swimming pool filter.

We do not carry this kind of product, as we only provide the safest Food Grade quality. If you are an industrial company looking for other grades of DE. 

The same as any food grade DE, the crystalline silica content is a special detail that should always be remembered when selecting a brand or product.

Safe Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Pure Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

In order to be considered food grade, the manufacturer must guarantee that the level of crystalline silica is under 2%, where many DE reservoirs in USA are around 0.5%.

The crystalline form or “glass” form of silica is harmful to breathe, and ingest, where as amorphous is the rock-form, and serves to be much safer in all regards.

The uncalcined form, where the diatomaceous earth is mined naturally, is what we call ‘amorphous’ silica. All of our product is reliably in a natural and unaltered state for your personal safety.

We have Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth with crystalline silica levels at <0.01% (less than 0.0001). That is the lowest levels on the market.

Any of the risks or hazards associated with crystalline forms of silica, or any non-food grade products are eliminated by our supply chain’s manufacturing processes.

We have full assurance that our product is the safest Diatomaceous Earth around.

Where to Buy Diatomaceous Earth?

It turns out answering the questions "What is Diatomaceous Earth" has a lot of important details. We've briefly covered the basics about Diatomaceous Earth.

Now you know a little more about where it comes from, and what its made of...

We've also discussed a few details about how it is formed from nature, and what are some precautions you should have when selecting the right quality Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth product.

We're happy to introduce you to a truly amazing natural remedy, especially if it’s the first time you’ve heard about Diatomaceous Earth.

Adding Diatomaceous Earth to your lifestyle for many people brings rapid results, and long lasting benefits.

Reach out to us by phone or email, we are looking forward to answering your questions about our remarkable Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth.

We have lots of experience and information to share with those who are ready to learn more about DE, and what makes it special in a world with very few comparable alternatives.

Shop Online for Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth