What is Diatomaceous Earth (DE)?
Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring mineral that comes from pre-historic freshwater lake beds and is of the highest quality. ProTerra DE is mined and processed right here in the U.S.A.
- Products that are naturally occurring
- Highest quality DE mined from ancient lake beds
- Our DE is produced and processed in the U.S.A.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE), also called diatomite or kieselguhr, is a naturally occurring product.
It is the accumulation of a large number of microscopic silica structures made by living diatoms, which are single-celled aquatic plants (like plankton or algae). There are many different types of diatoms that live in lakes and oceans, where they stay very close to the surface. Living diatoms are one of the lowest forms of the food chain for most aquatic life. When these diatoms die, they leave a tiny silica skeleton which is called a frustule. Quite often these frustule are very beautiful and intricate.
ProTerra diatomaceous earth is of the freshwater type and originate from pre-historic lakes that existed millions of years ago (approximately 5 to 20 million years ago). During the Tertiary Period, massive deposits of diatoms were formed in freshwater lakes which covered much of what is now Nevada and Eastern Oregon. Geological upheavals over time have exposed these very large and high-purity deposits. These deposits have been protected by a cap of volcanic ash which have preserved them from erosion. These deposits can be as much as several hundred feet think or as little as a few inches, depending on the climate in which they lived.
Diatoms grow differently than most plants. Most plants utilize solar energy to synthesize cellulose for their cell walls. A diatom, however, extracts dissolved amorphous silica from the water which builds a strong and stable skeleton called a frustule. These silica structures are very porous and are ideal for applications demanding performance and purity, such as brewing, food and beverage, and pharmaceutical applications.
How Is DE Processed?
The mining and processing of natural diatomaceous earth products is difficult and very complex. It requires large processing facilities and heavy earth-moving equipment. That’s why we have partnered with EP Minerals, LLC who is North America’s largest supplier of diatomaceous earth products.
- In this video News Channel 8 KOLO of Reno, NV talks about “Nevada’s Miracle Mineral” diatomaceous earth (DE) and it’s source from a mining company called EP Minerals.
- In this video Reno, NV news channel 4 KRNV reports on the mining operations of EP Minerals and how many of us may use diatomaceous earth every day but may not even realize it.
1. Surface Mining
The DE is surfaced mined and to access the product, sometimes large quantities of earth need to be removed. When this layer is removed and the purest diatomite strata are exposed, the diatomite is carefully dug from the bed with large hydraulic excavators. This process allows for selective removal of the diatomaceous earth while rejecting darker layers that contain too much volcanic ash or other impurities. The DE is then dumped into large stockpiles where the sun helps it dry before processing.
2. Processing Plant
The piles of material are hauled to the processing plant where it is placed into an automated crushing unit. From there it is conveyed into elevated storage bins where the plants will be fed with product continuously.
As part of DE processing, our supplier partner (EP Minerals, LLC) is committed to reclaiming mining properties including an ongoing continuous reclamation of the mined areas. They have committed nearly $10M in financial guarantees to assure future environmental restoration of these locations.
3. Moisture Removal
Because the DE still contains 20-30% moisture content, large drying units are utilized to remove the remaining moisture and any bio contaminants. The DE is then gently milled to preserve the integrity of the diatoms which gives our DE its remarkable properties. To provide the quality our customers have come to expect, it’s critical our DE be completely pure. A small amount of foreign matter can greatly downgrade product performance. Consistent processing and quality control, ensure you receive products that are free of undesirable impurities.
There’s a lot of misinformation in the market-place when referring to diatomaceous earth as a “food grade” product. When people hear this term, they are sometimes led to believe that the product has been approved by either the FDA or USDA for human consumption.
Historically, DE has been included among a group of substances which were classified as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS). However, in 1972, the National Research Council, working on behalf of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), undertook a re-evaluation of the GRAS substances and established a Food Chemicals Codex (FCC). This document set forth the requirement which DE products (and other substances used in food processing) must meet.
And so, as part of the U.S. Food Chemicals Codex, DE is approved as a contact product in the production and manufacturing of food items, including beverages. Did you know that diatomaceous earth is used in the filtering of all types of your favorite beverages? Many beer, wine, and juice producers use DE as the primary product to filter their beverages of any impurities left over from the manufacturing process.
Here at ProTerra, we DO NOT recommend that our DE be consumed by humans for any reason.
A Natural Alternative
Because ProTerra DE is a naturally occurring, inert mineral that does not contain harmful additives or chemicals, it is generally considered a natural alternative to many synthetic products currently on the market. In fact, the FDA has designated diatomaceous earth as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). It’s also important to consider that ProTerra DE comes from freshwater lakebeds, as opposed to saltwater lakebeds, which means it is comprised mainly of amourphous silica, with typically less than 1% crystalline silica.
Since the inhalation of dust of any kind can potentially cause irritation, we recommend using a simple dust mask as a preventative measure. If inhaled, remove to fresh air. For eye contact, wash with plenty of water. Consult a physician if irritation continues. For skin contact, use moisture renewing lotions if dryness occurs. If ingested, drink plenty of water to reduce drying effects.