BackYard Chickens › Learning Center Articles › Food Grade De Diatomaceous Earth

Food Grade De Diatomaceous Earth

We began using food grade Diatomaceous Earth in June 2007, after we moved the Banties to their temporary outdoor home.

Make sure you buy Food Chemical Codex Grade DE (<-this link provides recommended amounts for using with feeding, whitewash, etc.) for use with your pets and livestock.

Diatomaceous Earth

I use a flour sifter to spread it evenly in the coops when adding new pine shavings (as a mite/lice preventative) and in the runs/yards to help dry up the poop (before DE/afterDE), which helps to also keep the fly population and smell down.

Since I was bitten by the "hatching bug" (winter 2007), I've been using DE in the brooder. I just sprinkle a thin layer on the bottom of the brooder floor, then cover it with pine shavings litter and put paper towels on top of the shavings (for daily floor cleaning). When the hatched chicks are 5 - 7 days old, I completely remove the paper towels. Since getting our first chicks last May and brooding them indoors, I've noticed we've not had the "chickeny" smell at all this winter with chicks inside.

I add it to the nest boxes to help prevent mites/lice. I sprinkle a layer of DE into the cleaned box, add about 2 inches of hay then add another layer of DE, then more hay. I keep adding alternate layers until the nest box is full.

I also spread DE under our rabbit hutches for poop drying/keeping flies at bay.

I've also been using it as a white wash for roosts. This works in two ways...1st to dry the poop and 2ndly to kill mites/lice. I also found this to be a good ant deterrent when I painted it on the retaining wall and the rabbit hutches.

White Wash recipe: 1 Cup food grade DE to 1/2 gallon of water. Stir often.

We live in the country and are surrounded by farms. Our landlady has a farm behind our place (cows, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, peafowl, etc), another neighbor raises ostriches. Many cows reside in the field across the road from us...flies are usually "the norm" here during the summer. I was truly amazed at the decrease in the fly population within 2 - 3 weeks of using DE out in the yard.

DE & Honey Bees: YES, food grade DE will harm honeybees but what I've noticed since I've been using DE is that the honeybees don't tend to hang around the areas where I use it since there are no flowers in the coops/runs. Even though I use DE alot, the areas that the DE is used is probably one tenth of our entire yard.

Our red merle Aussie, Pepper Anne, also gets a dose of DE in with her kibble, every day, as a worm preventative. I also take it myself (daily) by adding and mixing a heaping teaspoon of food grade DE to one 8 ounce container of yogurt.

Food Grade DE Threads:

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth. Do you know the complete benefits?!?! gumpsgirl

Shelflife of Dilly

Work with feed store manager for richnchicks

Need help finding DE for flies by bassfishrman

DE for pest control!  by silkiechicken

Previous Diatomaceous Earth (DE) post by pricem11

Good price for DE? by pawtraitart

Where do you buy your DE? How much does it cost? by Iamaqte


The "Wrong Stuff"  Threads:

DE question by Rhaena

Is Red Lake Earth right DE? by Alphagamchick

diatomaceous earth - did I buy the right kind? by GoodEgg

DE Question by Mom2Daisy

Questions on DE by Farmer Kitty

Diatomaceous Earth by jemagsy

DE at pool supply house by imfowl


How to Use DE Threads:

Questions on DE...Help Please!  by Iamaqte

can you dust the dog with DE by nccountrygirl

How much Diatomaceous Earth per 50 lbs. of feed? by Iamaqte

Who used Diatomaceous Earth? by First-time-raising

Dusting run and house with DE? by 3peeps

Diatomaceous Earth---Really that harmless? by arwmommy

How to "spray" DE? by ellie


Where Can I Buy Food Grade DE:

Wolf Creek Ranch.......Located in So.Cal

Freshwater Organics.......Distributors list

McGeary Organics.......Retail Locations by State 

Perma-Guard.......Distributors listed by State

Garden Harvest Supply 

Golden Harvest Oganics.......Fort Collins, CO

Safe Solutions.......MI

Diatomite Canada

Bitless Bridle UK

I found DE in Florence, SC

Shadow Ridge.......NC

Azure Standard


Thanks for stopping by and checking out our pages. If you can add anything to this page, please feel free to contact us through the forum!

Dawn & Skip

Updated: 4/22/09


Comments (36)

I was doing OK until you told us you eat it.
Food grade diatomaceous earth is great for controlling insects and for keeping your livestock healthy. You forgot one source to purchase though. PureEarthD, you should check it out here
I bought mine at TSC 20lb 12.00 can't wait to start using it!
I love and use DE but had always heard it quits working if it gets wet. This was in reference to slugs eating my Hostas. They said even a light morning dew would make it ineffectual...??????
do you also put some on your hens? My show hens (and rooster) got mites (their backs are red and inflamed and are also missing feathers on their necks from scratching themselves!) and I'm trying to get it off ASAP so they can be county fair ready. The fair is August 1-5..... do you think if i start treatment in the next few days they will be ready?? I really hope so!!
Thanks so much!
Great article! I was excited to see DE is sold through Azure Standard. It just hadn't occurred to me to check their site for it. Will be sure to order some.
I just got back from "town" and I went to Home Depot. Their four pound bag is $8.97
Oops, I had to return it. I didn't look close enough at the packaging, and this was NOT labeled as "food grade."
There are actually some prohibitions created on EPA registered products that say if it has an EPA label it cannot say food grade, but if it does not have an EPA label you are not allowed to claim it kills or prevents insects. Therefore it is REALLY hard to shop for diatomaceous earth. Too bad EPA doesn't care about helping consumers, only making money. You probably bought the safer brand from home depot, which im sure would work fine if all you are doing is killing insects. If you want to feed it to animals or anything I would not get an EPA registered product, just in case they added chemicals to it.
@gar06 Thank you. Well actually, when I returned it, it was an open bag, and you're correct, it was "Safer Brand," and I opened it AFTER reading all I could here in this thread and several others. I was too afraid to try it on or near my 'girls' but I DO have a terrible ant problem, large black ants that actually will stand up and flex their muscles whenever I walk by, so I thought, 'what the heck, I'll try this.' I spread it liberally on two ant holes I found, there were maybe 40 to 50 ants around each hole, and I covered them as well. That was on Tuesday, then I did it again on Wednesday. On Thursday all the white color was gone from the ground, the ants were out in force, and I SWEAR, when they saw me they all turned and stood on their back legs and seemed to motion me on. I returned the open bag and they didn't question me at all, they gave me back my money (I had the receipt). The other product I have had just as little luck with and people swear by this one too, is Garden Tech's "SEVIN-5." When I sprinkle this, I swear I can hear the ants LAUGHING ... what's a person to do? I was hoping that there may be a sale soon on unused Nuclear Weapons that I could threaten them with, but with my luck, they's survive that too.
OK, every one stop laughing now, I do have a SERIOUS question. Am I to believe that there are more than two types of DE, Food Grade and Pool Grade? If so, if the Safer Brand I bought has neither listed, what then IS it? And why should I keep trying to get this for my 'girls?'
I know it is confusing but there are really only 2 grades of diatomaceous earth, and one of those grades sometimes has chemicals added to it. Let me explain in detail. First off you have pool grade diatomaceous earth which is food grade diatomaceous earth that has been super heated to crystalize making it more effective as a filtering agent, but also making it very toxic as it turns the silica into crystaline silica which can cause silicosis (a very dangerous disease) if inhaled. Food grade is made up mostly of amorphous silica which does not hurt you in the same way, but you should still avoid inhaling it as any fine powder in the lungs is not good, nor comfortable. Insecticide grade diatomaceous earth is the EXACT SAME as food grade de, however it sometimes has chemicals added to it that make it more effective vs insects (also defeating the purpose of using DE when you could just buy chemical insecticide in the first place), which in my opinion is only necessary if you want immediate relief with long term residual effects. If you just want a slow insect killing powder that will last then plain food grade diatomaceous earth is great! Keep in mind though that each insect will have its own way of coping with diatomaceous earth, but they all will eventually succumb, and sometimes you can make it easier. With ants for example I have heard of people mixing it with sugar so the ants take it down to their queen and it kills them, but I have also heard some ants are just monsters and even though diatomaceous earth can kill them, it might not be the right solution to remove the infestation. One thing you can do with the de is try creating a barrier around your home and along any window or door base to try to keep them from coming into your home without consequences. This might at least relieve any problems of insects indoors, and maybe cause them to move out as they will no longer have access to food.
Our TSC had a 4lb food grade for $7.99. It will get me started to clean the coop, we are switching over 100% to DL today. I am thinking one of the other feed stores will have a better price, it seemed pretty high. We have a few co-ops locally and Rural King, Orschlens etc Feed stores are pretty common in my area.
does anyone know if it can be bought at fleet farm or farm and fleet?
im most likely turning one of my barn stalls into a chicken coop and researched the DLM today and i called the local blue seal feed store (concord/bow NH) and they have "feed grade" not food/pool grade DE (40 pounds for $24), i deal with them alot and they are very knowledgeable and said that the feed grade DE is what works well for the deep litter method. I am very lucky to have them as a resource, they actually make all the feeds at that location so the people who work the store actually know what they are talking about.
I found it in Atlanta at Kirkwood Feed and Seed. It was expensive but I wanted to try it. I'll look for a TSC next time I'm out in the country.
Congratulations, Dawn419! Your article is featured on the homepage! Thank you for writing it and sharing it with our community.
Rather than buying DE you could just throw your money out the window of a moving car. That would be equally effective at controlling insects.
Thanks for all of the information on DE!
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