Diatomaceous earth

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Raw piece of diatomite.

Diatomaceous earth (D.E.) more commonly known as diatomite, kieselgur/kieselguhr or celite, is a naturally occurring, soft and frangible siliceous sedimentary rock. Diatomaceous earth mainly consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae, with other impurities such as metals (usually iron and calcium) and minute traces of organic matter.



Diatomaceous earth consists mostly of silicon dioxide and resists corrosion by most acids, except for hydrofluoric acid.

Heating diatomite between 800-1000 °C in a kiln will cause it to turn orange-red, due to iron content.


Diatomite is a whiteish light solid, with an abrasive feel, and highly porous. It also displays cleavage, similar to mica. Kieselgur is very light, with a density of 2.3 g/cm3 (bulk) and 0.256 g/cm3 (powder).


Diatomaceous earth is available as powdered form in many garden shops as insect killer. It can also be purchased online.


  • Water filtration
  • Adsorbing agent
  • Thermal insulator
  • Make dynamite
  • Catalyst support



Powdered diatomaceous earth is irritant to lungs and long-term exposure may cause silicosis.


Diatomite should be stored in closed bottles.


No special disposal is required, though it's best to avoid scattering it in air.


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