Our Diatomaceous Earth (aka Fossil shell flour) comes from an extremely pure fresh water deposit of the diatom Aulacoseira from a deposit created in the Miocene epoch. Why is this diatom so special? Its shell is made of amorphous silica. Its shape and hardness are important to how it works. Its hardness keeps it from dissolving in liquid. The holes along the diatom's wall allow it to absorb moisture, hence its commonly used as an anti-caking agent.
The colour of this DE is almost pure white and consists of 89% (and sometimes more) Silicon Dioxide plus 28 trace minerals which means more diatom surface area is available. More diatom area means greater absorptive capacity and more improvement in the mixability and flowability when used in animal feed. It does not swell nor absorb nutrients and thus poses no long-term hazard when used as an anti-caking agent in animal's feed. Darker coloured DE often contains an excess of a particular mineral such as iron or a high percentage of clay.
Freshwater versus saltwater DE?
Freshwater deposits like in this DE, have a consistent diatom presence. Their fossilized shells have maintained their tubular shape. This shape and strength of the fossil shell is critical to its effectiveness. This deposit has 89 - 95% amorphous silica content and is also more consistent in its purity of other elements that have settled in it. A freshwater deposit is confined to the runoff water of its surrounding environment. A freshwater deposit in the mountains, such as in this DE, formed when snow was pure and its runoff provided the water source these diatoms lived in.
Saltwater deposits contain a mix of types of diatoms of different shapes. Their fossilized shells are fragile and break easily. This renders them ineffective for our purposes. The salt water deposits are less predictable in their sediments.
What's the difference between amorphous and crystalline silica?
Amorphous silica is silica in its naturally occurring state. It is a trace mineral every mammal on the planet needs to live. It becomes crystalline when it is exposed to extreme heat through volcanic activity or commercial manufacturing means. The type of DE used in swimming pool, and other, filtration systems is crystalline silica. Crystalline silica is extremely dangerous when inhaled or ingested. It is not biodegradable. Our DE contains less than one half of 1% of crystalline silica and is considered GRAS (generally regarded as safe).
DE for animal feed use:
Bird and animal feed may contain substances such as molasses that cause the particles to become "sticky" and clump. This can not only make the feed hard to pour but also promote mold. When DE is mixed in the feed (not to exceed 2% of the dry weight), it coats each particle, making it difficult for the particles to stick together. This allows the feed to "flow" better and its absorption ability protects it from mold. No mold means less wasted feed.
By separating the particles of feed, the animal's digestive enzymes are able to completely surround each particle. This may also allow for a more complete digestion.
DE for human consumption:
Our DE is listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) which supports organic integrity by providing organic certifiers, growers, manufacturers, and suppliers an independent review of products intended for use in certified organic production, handling, and processing. It is also a product labelled Food Chemical Codex Grade (FCC) which refers to a compendium of standards used internationally to ensure the quality and purity of food ingredients.
Even though this suggests high-quality standards and that DE is GRAS (generally regarded as safe), these terms do not guarantee that this product is safe or registered for human consumption. Please note that Diatomaceous Earth is not approved as a food in Canada.
Disclaimer: this information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the FDA or CFIA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This product has been packaged in the same facility as peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, and other potential allergens.