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Diatomaceous Earth

What is diatomaceous earth?

Diatomaceous earth rock

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a mineral silica that has an elaborate structure worked by nature into a labyrinth of tiny holes. No other silica source, whether mined or artificially produced, has such a structure. Each diatom is peppered with thousands of holes ranging from a few microns in diameter down to submicron diameters. The number and size of these holes vary with the species. It is the combination of the composition of natural silica, the structure of its diatom particles, and of the network of holes in that structure, that confers the unique properties of these multi-functional mineral products.


Diatomaceous earth is a sedimentary rock composed of the prehistoric skeletal remains of single-cell aquatic plants called diatoms. Most are fossilized and were deposited in the Miocene period, some 15 million years ago. Some deposits are saltwater but most are from freshwater sources. The profusion of shapes results in an extremely low density diatomaceous earth powder, with excellent filtration characteristics.

Physical properties

SEM photograph diatomaceous earth
  • Unique 3D morphology and micro porosity
  • 90% silica content
  • High surface area and high absorption power
  • Low specific and bulk density
  • Chemically inert
  • Hard
  • Agriculture
  • Filtration
  • Mechanical Insecticides
  • Personal Care
  • Paints & Coatings
  • Plastics
  • Agriculture

    In agriculture, diatomaceous earth is an effective anti-caking agent in fertilizers and excellent inert carrier for animal feed and pesticides.


  • Filtration

    • Diatomaceous earth is a natural, ecofriendly filter aid and process enabler for the production of beer, fruit juices, sweeteners and edible oils and an invaluable, cost-effective refining and purification aid in sustainable biodiesel fuels, derived from waste-oils.
    • Our DE-based low-cost water filtration units are being used to provide populations in developing countries with access to potable water and reduce the spread of disease, particularly during disaster relief campaigns.

  • Mechanical Insecticides

    Imerys natural DE-based, non-chemical, mechanical insecticides can play an important role in combating malaria in tropical zones.
    They are excellent substitutes for chemical insecticides and present no risk of insect resistance.

  • Personal Care

    In cosmetics, ultra-absorbent diatomite-based powders are ideal 100% natural ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants. Used in face masks, diatomite significantly reduces the drying time of the clay.

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    Woman applying deodorant
  • Paints & Coatings

    Diatomaceous earth is an effective solution for improving matting, opacity and brightness in paints as well as enhancing paint breathability, burnish, scrub and stain resistance, and barrier properties.

  • Plastics

    • In plastic films, diatomaceous earth is an effective anti-blocking additive which prevents films sticking together during production, converting and end use.
    • Due to its high absorbency, diatomite is also an effective solution for reducing plastic odor and VOC emission rates, improving interior and automotive air quality.

For markets other than Personal Care, please visit Imerys Filtration.