A Little Known Household Essential You’re NOT Using (But Should Be)
By Amber Keiper
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Barbara Todd, founder of Lumino Wellness – a small, woman-owned business based in Vancouver, Washington. Lumino Wellness creates natural health and beauty products for the whole family…everything from body care and natural supplements to home, garden, and pet care.
One of the main ingredients in most of their products is an amazing thing called “diatomaceous earth”. Diatomaceous Earth (or DE) is a fine abrasive powder that is made from fossilized diatoms (algae).
I had read a bit about DE for pets as a safer alternative spot-on chemical flea and tick medications but was curious to find out more about it so Barb enlightened me about the many amazing uses of diatomaceous earth for pets and people.
“What Is DE Used For?”
Diatomaceous earth has many household uses:
As a natural deodorizer…
As a non-toxic cleanser and absorbent…
- Sprinkle a bit of DE in bottom of your garbage cans to keep them free from odor.
- Mix a handful of DE in with your cat’s kitty litter to help absorb moisture and smell.
- Place two tablespoons of DE in your vacuum cleaner bag or canister and again when half full to keep your home smelling fresh.
- You can use DE as a deodorizer in the refrigerator and freezer in place of baking soda.
- Here’s a neat trick to keep your shoes dry and odorless: place some DE in a piece of pantyhose and tie it closed to prevent spillage. Leave the pantyhose in your shoes until ready to be worn again.
In the garden…
- Mix DE with your favorite dish soap and add few drops of vinegar to create a soft soap paste for cleaning.
- Muddy footprints in your carpet? Sprinkle a bit of DE on those wet or dry mud spots and work in with a stiff broom or brush using a rubbing motion. Let it sit for 1-2 hours or when powder and mud appear dry, then vacuum the spot right up.
- Mix DE with water to form a paste to apply to silver, using a soft cloth to rub it in. Silver tarnish can be also removed by simply rubbing it with a soft cloth dipped in dry DE.
- Preserve and store flower bulbs by sprinkling them lightly with DE. Store bulbs in an air permeable bag and hang them in a dry place that allows for airflow.
- For houseplants add 1 part DE to 3 parts soil mix. DE works as a soil conditioner by helping to break up clay and retain moisture in light or sandy soils. Plus, DE contains 14 trace minerals that help to amend depleted soils encouraging a healthy yield.
For health and beauty care…
- Create your own facial mask by mixing DE and water or oil together to form a paste. Using a circular motion, apply to your face until fully covered. Leave mask on for 2 to 5 minutes then wash off with warm water for a refreshed-looking face.
- Mixing DE with your favorite facial cleanser creates an instant microdermabrasion mask to remove old dead skin and leave behind a youthful glow.
- Sprinkle a small amount of DE on your favorite toothpaste and brush as you normally would to enhance your smile.
- Mix with your favorite nail oil to create a nail soak that helps to strengthen nails.
“How Does DE Work?”
If you zoom in to for an up close view of the individual diatomaceous earth cells, you’d see that they look very much like those old-fashioned brush curlers your mom used to use.
These cylindrical tubes are covered in sharp, pointy edges, which give DE its strong, yet gentle abrasive
quality. The surface area of the cylinder gives DE its ability to be a super desiccant.
While the sharp edges of DE are the perfect size to tear up bugs and dirt, they’re much too small to pierce the skin of pets and people.
“Is DE Safe?”
Some information out on the web suggest that diatomaceous earth is not safe to use which is certainly is not the case at all. In fact, there are two forms of diatomaceous earth: the kind containing amorphous silica and the other, which contains crystalline silica.
Crystalline silica DE is what is commonly used in pool filters and is not safe to use for pets and people because it can be harmful if inhaled. Food-grade amorphous silica DE is safe to use internally and externally...and is what is used in Lumino’s products.
Another notable advantage of Lumino’s diatomaceous earth products is that the DE they use is formed in fresh water so they’re much harder – and therefore more effective - than salt-water DE. Fresh water DE retains its structural integrity, which is why it works so well internally and externally.
How to Use DE For Pets
Back in 2008, after a surge of reports of pets falling ill and dying due to spot-on flea and tick products, many pet parents began to search for safer, alternate ways of dealing with these pests without putting their pets at risk. Most pet parents use diatomaceous earth for that purpose - as a safer alternative to toxic flea and tick shampoos and spot-on treatments.
Using DE on your pet is pretty easy to do:
- Put a teaspoon of DE in palm of your hand and rub together until it coats your palms.
- Starting at the ears, massage the DE into your pet’s fur, reapplying DE to your palms as needed.
- Continue applying DE from your pet’s head, to their body, haunches, tail, and legs.
- Make sure to cover the tail area well as flea and ticks like to spend lots of time in these areas.
While your pet will undoubtedly appreciate the application of DE (since this means a full-body massage from you), you only need to apply it once a week. However, for heavy infestation, application can be done every 4-5 days.
Diatomaceous Earth works to get rid of fleas and ticks in the home within 24-48 hours. Keep in mind that the efficacy of DE can take a bit longer in more humid climates as it takes more time for the fleas and ticks to dry out and die.
It’s also a good idea to treat your home with DE both inside and out to keep the fleas and ticks from coming back. Using a fine metal sieve or flour sifter, powder the areas around the home where pests like hang out (i.e. dog bed, carpet, garden, shrubs). Remember, when using DE, a little goes a long way, even outdoors. DE works itself into the soil so you don’t need much for it to be effective.
About Lumino Wellness
Barbara Todd started Lumino Wellness after realizing that the health and beauty products available on the market were just not meeting her needs.
Being an Argentine tango dancer, she was especially concerned about the health of her feet. This spawned the creation of her first product - a foot scrub made from Himalayan sea salt and coconut oil – which dramatically improved the condition of her feet. So much so that she was able to dance for hours without her feet getting sore.
Barb began to create other natural health and beauty products for people and before she knew it, she had a line of products that her clients couldn’t get enough of. These same clients began to tell her how they were using the Lumino body care products on their pets and in their homes, which was the driving force behind Lumino Pets and Diatomaceous Earth for Pets – the ONLY Diatomaceous Earth approved by the EPA to be applied directly to your pet's coat to kill fleas and ticks.
Amber Keiper is the Marketing Assistant and Raw Diet Educator for BARF World Inc.. She and her husband have two former rescue animals that are now healthy and proud “BARF brats” – a terrier mix named Chewbacca (“Chewy”) and a tabby mix named Chiquita (“Chiqui”). For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for The Intelligent Pet monthly e-zine at www.barfworld.com.