I discovered the many benefits of that wonder powder, Diatomaceous Earth (“DE” for short), when our goats got sick last year.
Only about a year into our homesteading and goat-breeding venture, my husband and I were appalled to see several of our Boer and hybrid kids succumb to death one by one. Apparently there was a parasitic disease going around, exacerbated by the onset of the rainy season.
Here in the far-flung hills of Mindanao, the Philippines, there aren’t many veterinarians around. Nor are there enough agri-vet stores or pharmacies selling medicines for livestock. The municipal vet knew about the problem, which was afflicting many other small farmers in our area, but he couldn’t successfully address it. We were hard-pressed to find a solution before more of our goats fell ill. I did a quick search online and stumbled upon DE, which was often recommended as an effective, non-synthetic de-wormer. I quickly learned that in the homesteading, off-grid and naturalist circles they call the substance “miracle powder.” It didn’t take many articles for me to read before I got convinced of its anti-parasitic powers. Searching further to see how I could get it, I found a supplier in Manila and called to place my order.
It has been 7 months, a number of typhoons and several weeks of non-stop rains since — and a new batch of kids too – but we haven’t had any deaths, nor a single illness amongst our breed. It could be the introduction of DE into the goats’ diet; it could be something else. But my strong guess is, it’s the DE
DE is the fossilized remains of tiny one-celled algae called phyto-planktons which have skeletons made of silica and hard, glass-like shells around them. They’re also known as diatoms. They thrive in saltwater bays, estuaries and lakes that once covered many parts of the world including the western United States. When the waters receded, vast deposits remained, and over the centuries they have calcified as sedimentary rock. They are now mined from old lake beds, milled and ground into a soft, fine whitish powder that resemble talcum and flour. It is used in a variety of products, from paint to swimming pool filters to toothpaste. DE is said to be made approximately of 89 percent silica, 5 percent sodium, 2 percent iron and a host of other trace minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium, manganese, titanium, boron, copper and zirconium.
This amazing blend of important – and wholly organic — minerals is what makes DE exceptionally rich, potent, unique and (as I can imagine) not easily matched by any regular man-made chemicals. For what nature has produced over thousands of years cannot be 100 percent duplicated by man – at least not in the purity, efficacy and large-scale quantity that it was done by nature.
Food-grade DE has many domestic uses, and it is cheap and easily available online, at the feed store, garden center and some specialty health stores. It can also be bought online at GodsMiracleDust.com.
Here are the top 7 ways you could you use it around the house and in the homestead:
1. Non-toxic pest control. DE kills fleas, mites, lice, flies, ants, roaches, termites, silverfish and bedbugs. Dust your pets’ fur with it periodically, sprinkle around their beddings and resting spots. This can also be done for livestock. (Set up boxes or trays in the henhouse so the chickens can dust themselves with it.) DE works by scratching up the outer skeleton of insects and absorbing their body fluids, causing them to dehydrate and die. It is a physical or mechanical action, there is no chemical activity that takes place so the parasites won’t develop immunity to it. Sprinkle DE on the corners of your cupboards, cabinets, window sills, in between crevices, behind baseboards, around plumbing or wiring holes in walls and very lightly on carpets and rugs (leave 3 days and then vacuum).
Dust it on building foundations and around the perimeter of your house, yard, shed and barn – anywhere pests may thrive. (Caution: DE is dusty and abrasive, it can cause lung problems if inhaled heavily. Wear a dust mask if you’re applying it with a dry blower.) To apply with water, mix ¼ cup of DE in a gallon of water and, using a watering can, sprinkle on soil or greenery where pest problems occur.
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2. Grain storage.Protect your wheat, rice, corn and other grains from weevils, borers and flour beetles with DE. Use a ratio of 1 cup DE to 50 pounds of grain.
3. Natural insecticide and repellent. Use DE in your garden to control bugs, slugs, aphids, caterpillars, snails and beetles. It will also kill scorpions, centipedes, earwigs, fruit flies, stink bugs, borers and any other insects it comes in contact with. Mix with water and apply it on the plant base and leaves only, avoiding flowers and buds as it may kill the bees, wasps, butterflies and other helpful insects that alight on them. Use it only as necessary.
4. Organic de-wormer. Add 2 percent DE to livestock and pet food to kill intestinal parasites including tapeworms, pinworms, roundworms, etc. You can also use it as a nutritional supplement to promote the vitality and productivity of your animals. One good side-effect of DE in their diet is that it shows up in their manure, and as flies come and lay eggs on it the DE kills the maggots that develop. The fly population is significantly diminished.
5. Natural soil enhancer. Nursery-grade DE is a beneficial ingredient used in potting mixes. Very porous and absorbent, it retains water and minerals efficiently then releases them slowly to plants. It’s a rich source of silica which, when absorbed by the plants’ roots, boosts their strength and ability to penetrate the soil and extract minerals from it. Since it’s organic and non-toxic, DE is reported to be safe for earthworms and beneficial soil micro-organisms. You can apply it on your compost pile to reduce odor and flies, but use it sparingly, sprinkling lightly only on the surface of the soil.
6. Elimination of algae in water supply. Add food-grade DE to household water reservoirs and animal troughs to stop the proliferation of algae. The amount needed will depend on the size of your container, so start with a small amount and increase as needed.
7. Family health. Because of its high silica content, DE is noted for a variety of health benefits. It is said to absorb viruses, bacteria and many toxic substances we ingest like mercury, aluminium, pesticide and drug residues, then transport them out of the body through the urinary tract. DE also aids in the promotion of our skeletal health. Silica is responsible for depositing minerals, especially calcium, into our bones and ligaments. It speeds up the healing process of tears and fractures. The recommended dosage for a cleansing and detoxification regimen for adults is 1 tsp. in a glass of water on an empty stomach 3 times a day. But most people who use it as a regular health supplement take 1-2 tsps. daily with their favourite juice, smoothie or tea.