Diatomaceous Earth

Discussion in 'Growing Organic Marijuana' started by nwoneness, May 12, 2011.

  1. Well i was reading through a post by someone on here who says to mix Diatomaceous earth in with their soil for it's ability to absorb lipids from the waxy outer layer of insect's exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate. Well that's all well and good if you were able to pick and choose which insects you wanted to control, but cutting out all arthropods from your soil ecosystem doesn't sound like a very responsible idea! Just wondering if anybody out there has any experience with this stuff, as it sounds like a pretty dangerous thing to just be throwing into your plot.
  2. I believe DE becomes useless after getting wet. I could be wrong. Doesn't make much sense. What it does to hard bodied insects when dry (for sure) is cuts their exoskeleton to cause death by dehydration. Think of it like tiny razor blades to them.
  3. DE is not water soluble, it will kill any insect with an exoskeleton wet or dry.
  4. #4 NoPanicOrganic, May 14, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2016
    From my own experience, and from quite a bit of research, you are right it is not water soluble; however it is ineffective while wet. Once it dries out it begins working again, but since it works as a dehydrandt it is possible to penetrate an exoskeleton but is unable to remove moisture from the insect if it is already saturated.
    I keep a layer on top of my soil so any insect that tries to go into, or come out of, my dirt will have to negotiate the de. Due to having a top layer, I water underneath it to try to keep it as dry as possible.
  5. That does make sense, I stand corrected. I asked this same question a week or two back and thats what I was told.
  6. I would have to say that from a logical perspective this doesn't make any sense. If it 'cuts' and we know that it does, and it's not soluble in water and drys out 'intact', so would retain it's cutting ability in the presence of water or being wet, why would it's mechanism of action change due to the wetness and then be regained when dry? Bag of razorblades is going to work wet or dry.
  7. #7 NoPanicOrganic, May 16, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2016
    Correct, but the organisms are not dying from being cut, they are being dehydrated as the hydrophilic action of DE pulls the moisture out of the organisms penetrated exoskeleton. If the DE is 100% saturated and can not hold any more moisture, then the water wicking action can not occur; so you are left with a cut but all of its interstitial fluids. The cut will heal and the orgainsm will continue along. Its mechanism of action does not change, just becomes ineffective while wet.
    DE is not water soluable, meaning it does not break down and dissolve into the given solvent, in this case water. It is a solid that will absorb water and then release it back into the environment when the ambient humidity is lower than the h2o percentage contained within the DE.
  8. #8 kevman, May 16, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2011
    DE is made by farming micro organisms that have an extremely small, very tuff exoskeleton. I mean dat shit is reallllllllyyyyyyy small. So what they do is grow them, and then . . .kill them!(not a surprise) then their tiny little bodies dry out and turn white and wahhh-laa. U get a hand ful of this shit and ur holding more tiny dead bodies than all the grams of weed ever smoked. damn dat shit is small

    This stuff may dry out the bugs but i havent heard of dat and i sorta dont see how that would work. because if its not water soluble(and im not saying it water soluble dats just wat i heard ya"ll saying) than its not gunna cause any osmotic pressure on cells it comes in contact with. That means no water is sucked out. The lipids in the chitin might be extracted but the bug could still survive And insects chitin exoskeletons are extremely tough.

    So how does it work??
    Well remeber how small those little microbes dried up bodies were? Yea well ya see, those things are so small that they actually clog the air ways of bugs that crawl over or near the stuff and the there fore suffacate and die. Biologists use this to kill insect specimens without applying a lethal force.
    you can use it for other shit


    oo and about it getting wet.

    dry dead tiny bodies = airborn dead tiny bodies
    wet dead tiny bodies= heavy, not flying tiny bodies
  9. #9 NoPanicOrganic, May 16, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2016
    Your research is incomplete and your logic is flawed. The organisms with exoskeletons that can not be penetrated by the DE are usually dehydrated by the DE entering through their mouths, eyes, any soft fleshy portion that can be penetrated; not by suffocating on it.

    Osmotic pressure, as you mentioned, relates to the amount of pressure required to move something across, or through, a semipermiable membrane. The DE penetrates membranes, making them permiable, allowing interstitial fluids to be pulled out due to process of diffusion. Same concept as putting a toothpick into a cup of water, the wicking action will pull the water from the cup until the toothpick is fully saturated. If we used a toothpick that is saturated, no wicking action will take place and the level of water within the cup will remain the same. Now imagine the cup has a layer of plastic wrap over the top, simulating the organisms body, both toothpicks will puncture the plastic however only the dry toothpick will have the desired effect once it has penetrated the membrane.

  10. #10 Possuum, May 17, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2011
    nwoneness, regarding your OP, it makes zero horticultural sense to add non-calcined DE to your soil mix. It buys one nothing in the grander scheme of soil conditioners and soil ammendments and why anyone would want to kill soil microorganisms I wouldn't have a clue. Doesn't sound like a good idea on any level. Used as an external pesticide and insecticide it does make good sense and that's the best use of non-calcined DE and it is widely used as such.

    Calcined DE does make some sense to add to a soil mix to increase the soil porosity. After it has been calcinated it increases about 3X size and the razor sharp edges disappear. It also has a low CeC quality about it at this point placing it slightly above regular sand but the CeC value is way, way, way, below that of soil organic matter. Calcined DE is widely used in turf grass maintenance (golf courses, football fields, heavily treaded grassy areas, parks, etc) and has been proven many times over to be of good use in those types of treatments. But that's off point of the OP.

    There are also food grade quality DE's available but this is primarily used as a feedstock supplement.

    Short opinion: Don't use non-calcined DE as a soil input. It won't give you "an edge" on any single thing on any level whatsoever. :)

  11. Think it works once it dry's out again?
  12. #12 NoPanicOrganic, May 17, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2016
    Yep, one way I apply it is to put 1 cup per gallon of water into my diaphragm sprayer, and once the water evaporates you are left with a nice even application of DE. You can tell when it is wet as it has a slight yellow tint and once it dries it is bright white.
  13. #13 NoPanicOrganic, May 18, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2011
    "DE is actually beneficial to the soil. It’s loaded with trace minerals... DE is approximately 86 percent silicon, 5 percent sodium, 2 percent iron and many other trace minerals such as titanium, boron, manganese, copper and zirconium." - Howard Garrett

    In addition to the trace minerals, it does function as a soil amendment in terms of its water retention capabilities, similarly to pumice stone, perlite, azomite, etc.

    Diatomaceous Earth may be used as a barrier to control adult flea beetles, sawfly, coddling moth, twig borer, thrips, mites, cockroach, slugs, snails and many other insects such as:
    Aphids, thrips, earwigs, silverfish, and ants. Can be used for bedbugs, cabbage root flies, carrot root flies, fleas, pillbugs, ticks and is helpful in dealing with fungus gnats.

    It will however kill any beneficial insects that are around, it does not discriminate, but I tend to use it indoors, outdoors when I encounter an infestation of something I don't want, so I try to keep most if not all insects out of my grow room. It is also something I mix into my worm bin, as it will not harm red worms.

    DE does not kill microscopic organisms, it used to be microscopic organisms, phytoplankton, however since it is microscopic itself microorganisms can crawl in or around it without being harmed. Think size relativity, if there is a broken bottle on the ground and we step on it it will hurt us, but a fly, ant or whatever can climb all around the "sharp" edges as it is much larger to them therefore less of a health threat.

  14. Good, cuz i just sprinkle. Since i water down from the top it gets wet, but it does dry out.
  15. To take things a step further with calcined DE there are products available in granular form. Higromite is a granular DE that is used in place of perlite in hydro as a medium and in soil as an aeration amendment. All of the benefits of the trace minerals with an absorbency factor that retains water. The porosity makes for good lodging for microbes.

    And.......if you are frugal and like to hang on to as much of your hard earned money as I am.........Here is a great deal on the same stuff that most folks can find in most parts of the country. It's under 7 bucks a bag where I live.


  16. I had a really bad fungus gnat problem with my indoor coco grow And I got a 10 pound bag of DE at a pool supply store for $10 and I covered the top layer of coco and it solved my gnat problem within a day or two. Also when I watered it it mixed in with the soul a little bit. This stuff works wonders for a gnat problem and probably for any insect that goes in and out of the soil
  17. Pool grade DE will work, but it's manufacturing process turns it into a crystalline silica, which is a known carcinogen. cite
    The issue is the inhalation of airborne particles.
    Just not worth the risk and food grade is inexpensive. My livestock feed store sells 50 lb. bags of Permagard for less than $40 with tax.
    I use it all around my home, inside and out: I have exotic birds in an outdoor avairy I dust once a week for mites and lice. It helps control most crawling insects like ants, beetles, etc and provides a barrier to my home against these pests. I use it on my dog and though this area is known for flea infestation, she has never had any.
    I can go on with more benefits like ingesting it, but the point is use ONLY FOOD GRADE.

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