What is Diatomaceous Earth and is it Good For You?

2. What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring sand extracted from the earth.

It consists of microscopic skeletons of algae, known as diatoms, that have fossilized over millions of years (1).

There are two main types of diatomaceous earth: food grade, which is suitable for consumption, and filter grade, which is toxic to humans but has many industrial uses.

This is what food grade diatomaceous earth looks like:


The diatoms in diatomaceous earth are largely made up of a chemical compound called silica.

Silica is commonly found in nature, from sand and rocks to plants and humans. However, diatomaceous earth is a concentrated source of silica, which makes it unique (2).

Commercially available diatomaceous earth is said to contain 80 to 90% silica, several other trace minerals and small amounts of iron oxide (rust) (1).

Bottom Line: Diatomaceous earth is a type of sand that consists of fossilized algae. It is rich in silica, a substance that has many industrial uses.

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