Why We Use Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

By Staff
Why We Use Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Insects have been around since the dawn of time. They will be around until the final sun sets. Because they are not going anywhere anytime soon, there’s no getting around it—we must deal with them. Many insects are mere nuisances, while others can (and do) cause serious harm. In either case, we must protect our livelihood from these pests. At the same time, it’s important to ensure that we are not causing harm to ourselves, our families, our pets, or our environment. This is why we, at Dr. Killigan’s, use food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) powder.

We also use (and highly recommend) our Dust to Dust Non-Toxic Insect Powder. It is a safer and more effective alternative to diatomaceous earth for insect control. Dust to Dust is proven to have kill times up to 50% faster than diatomaceous earth.

Diatomaceous earth (DE) in tube ready for use

What Is Diatomaceous Earth?

DE is a white powder made up of fossilized shell remains of aquatic micro-organisms called diatoms. These organisms have an interesting makeup: Their skeletons are made up of a common compound called silica, which is mined from the bottom of rivers, lakes, and oceans. When silica reacts with oxygen and water, it becomes silica dioxide, or Diatomaceous Earth. It is then ground into a powder form and used for various purposes, from water filtration to pest control.

What Is the Difference between Pool Grade and Food-Grade DE Powder?

There are two different forms of DE: pool-grade (or filter-grade) and food-grade.

Pool-Grade (or Filter-Grade) DE

  • Super-heated.
  • Ends up being 60-70% crystalline silica.
  • Is dangerous to inhale.
  • Should only be used for filtration.
  • Widely used in water filtration for both taste and quality (though dangerous to inhale).
  • Requires special handling. Mask up and wear those gloves to prevent inhalation.

Food-Grade DE

  • Untreated.
  • Must remain below 1% crystalline silica to be labeled "food-grade."
  • Hazardous to breathe with long term exposure (due to its abrasiveness).
  • Is used for a wide range of purposes, from toothpaste to dietary supplements.
  • While safe for human consumption, DE is also a non-toxic pesticide, though not in the traditional sense. It is not a poison; it disposes of insects through the process of dehydration.
  • Requires special handling. Again, mask up and wear those gloves.
Image shows a house with yard

How Can Food-Grade DE Powder Help My Home?

Leave the pool grade to the professional filtration experts and focus on what Food Grade DE can do for you. 

How Does Diatomaceous Earth Work?

Bugs, like every other living creature, need two essentials to survive: food and water. Disrupt either of these and they are just as vulnerable as you or me. When food-grade DE is dusted across the path of an insect, such as an American cockroach or carpenter ant, these unwanted invaders will soon be a thing of the past. Ready for the details. This is what happens:

  • It sticks to their feet and bodies.
  • It absorbs the oils from their exoskeleton.
  • It dehydrates the pest.
  • The pest dies.

The effect is not instant. It takes time, depending on the insect. The slower timing, though, can be of great advantage to you: The trespasser can take the powder home and share it with its roommates.

Pointers on Using DE

Diatomaceous Earth is not an on-contact spray. For it to work properly, it requires patience and preparation. Here are the steps: 

Ensure that the area dusted is dry

Wet DE will not stick to the insect and thus not allow the powder to absorb properly (into the insect). The absorbing of oils in the exoskeleton is what disposes of the insect.

Ensure that the area dusted is active

Dust areas where insects crawl, walk, or jump regularly. In your home, this could be under your cabinets, in crevices between appliances, and under the sink in your kitchen or bathroom. Outside your sacred abode, this could be in tight spaces or corners of your tool shed, your garden space, or your garage. 

Leave the area dusted alone, at least for a while

Time variations depend on where you lay the powder. If in an undisturbed area, it can be left indefinitely. If in a high traffic area, we recommend leaving it for at least 24-48 hours. Then, if you can, simply sweep it to the side for the time-being. 

Note: The more DE powder the insect comes into contact with, the sooner you’ll rid yourself of these invaders.  

Second Note: Unless you have a HEPA vacuum, don’t even think about using your vacuum cleaner. You’ll ruin it.

Take precautions when dispersing

Food-grade DE Powder may be inhaled. While non-toxic, it can still cause issues in those with sensitivities.  Good practice: use gloves and wear a mask and a long-sleeved shirt when dispersing.

Food-grade DE does not differentiate between insects. It will have the same effect on a butterfly as it would a roach. If you have a pet spider, you may want to reconsider your use of this powder.

diatomaceous earth (DE) In wooden spoon ready for use.

How do I Use Food-Grade DE Powder?

You will need a means of dispersing it. Methods like scoops or shakers or by hand can be messy, and they simply do not get the powder to the areas where it will be most effective. You’ll end up making a mess, inevitably getting frustrated, and wasting much of the product. 

Drumroll please... 

Dr. Killigan’s has developed a tool that works with DE Powder and gets it right where you want it.

Dr. Killigan’s Insect Buster® is a bulb that is designed to effectively disperse Diatomaceous Earth (DE). It is sturdy, easy to aim, and you can store the powder in it. It comes with a nozzle with a standard curved tip, an extension rod for hard-to-reach areas, vinyl tubing for extra hard-to-reach areas (which easily slips over the brass tip), and a funnel for easy pouring. The Insect Buster goes where sprays cannot reach. Together, let’s dispose of those unwanted guests!

Dr. Killigan’s Final Word on DE Powder

Our team of professionals is dedicated to perfecting the art of Killing Them Softly®. We have designed 100% toxin-free products that are not only safe but are also created with style, restoring peace of mind and returning a “classy” look to your home.

We are continually raising the bar in toxin-free pest control remedies. All our products come in a design that is pleasing to the eye and carries a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are not satisfied for any reason, contact us, and we will not hesitate to make things right.

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  • Dawn of time? LOL…So, 14 billion years ago? It’s comforting to know that the sub-atomic particles had insects as a companion as they exploded “on to the scene”… it can be very lonely out there! LOL!

    John Hancock on
  • Loaded with great information. Particularly info regarding food grade vs. pool grade diatomaceous earth.

    Mitch Clark on
  • Interesting!

    Jason McCormick on

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