Diatomaceous earth 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. Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica. Over a long period of time, diatoms accumulated in the sediment of rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. Today, silica deposits are mined from these areas.
Each deposit of diatomaceous earth is different, with varying blends of pure diatomaceous earth combined with other natural clays and minerals. The diatoms in each deposit contain different amounts of silica, depending on the age of the deposit. The species of diatom may also differ among deposits. The species of diatom is dependent upon the age and paleo-environment of the deposit. In turn, the shape of a diatom is determined by its species.
Diatomite is used as an insecticide, due to its abrasive and absorptive properties. Diatomaceous earth is not poisonous; it does not have to be eaten in order to be effective. Diatomaceous earth causes insects to dry out and die by absorbing the oils and fats from the cuticle of the insect’s exoskeleton. Its sharp edges are abrasive, speeding up the process. It remains effective as long as it is kept dry and undisturbed.