What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth /ˌdaɪ.ətəˌmeɪʃəs ˈɜrθ/, also known as D.E., diatomite, or kieselgur/kieselguhr, is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. It has a particle size ranging from less than 3 micrometres to more than 1 millimetre, but typically 10 to 200 micrometres. Depending on the granularity, this powder can have an abrasive feel, similar to pumicepowder, and has a low density as a result of its high porosity. The typical chemical composition of oven-dried diatomaceous earth is 80 to 90% silica, with 2 to 4% alumina (attributed mostly to clay minerals) and 0.5 to 2%iron oxide.
Diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. It is used as afiltration aid, mild abrasive in products including metal polishes and toothpaste, mechanical insecticide, absorbentfor liquids, matting agent for coatings, reinforcing filler in plastics and rubber, anti-block in plastic films, porous support for chemical catalysts, cat litter, activator in blood clotting studies, a stabilizing component of dynamite, and a thermal insulator.