Food Grade DE - Diatomaceous Earth

Uses for an using Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
By Dawn419 · Jan 11, 2012 · Updated Nov 12, 2013 · ·
  1. Dawn419
    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.
    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?

    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

    Share This Article

Recent User Reviews

  1. 007Sean
    "Food Grade DE is not good for pest control"
    1/5, 1 out of 5, reviewed May 16, 2019
  2. Texas Kiki
    "DE is ONLY good for bugs in feed bags."
    1/5, 1 out of 5, reviewed Aug 10, 2018
    Nothing else.
    casportpony and dawg53 like this.
  3. casportpony
    "What is DE good for?"
    1/5, 1 out of 5, reviewed Aug 8, 2018
    Where is the scientific data that shows it works?
    dawg53 and KikisGirls like this.


To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!
  1. MissChick@dee
    I have a small wooden coop, the dollhouse type. I put food grade DE in a clean dish washing bottle (Dawn) I open every up and squirt away (the hens are out grazing) keeps bugs out (dead) and things stay nice and dry. Haven’t seen a cobweb in months. Any extra they get on themselves is just a bonus.
  2. MissChick@dee
    One day I saw a big red ant carrying a bit of hotdog up one of my hens leg. That was it! My run was over run with ants. I got my sifter and food grade DE and got busy. I watched where their ~trail~ was, concentrated on that area, dusted everything for a few days. Ants are gone its been over a month still NO ants. Now I use it once a week. Amazing stuff!
  3. Emmanuelle
    Really informative. Thank you so much! Emmanuelle
  4. minpins99
    For those of us who are seriously financially challenged and without a car, is there a chicken safe alternate for PDZ or DE that can be purchased in a grocery store, such as corn starch or some such?
  5. MsRiderUp
    Used DE for the first time with our chickens. Sprinkled it over new pine shavings in coop, roost bar, around coop, over bale of hay they like to lay their eggs on :), and over dust bathing area. Flies have been WAY down, as well as smell. Had a hen with poopy bum and that cleared up. And . . . egg production went up! Used a mask on my face so I didn't inhale. Love the results!
  6. EledaWV
    Love DE! We spread it over the lawn, the coop, the dogs, look out!
  7. ChickEeeDee
    Excellent info! I used it today for the first time! So excited to see the flies fly off!!!
  8. chattykathy306
    If I use DE, do I still need to dust my hens with poison stuff to kill any parasites? Not sure if they have them, but am thinking that maybe they all do, if nothing is done to eliminate them. Is this true?
  9. Sandywitch
    OK, apparently there is more than one "food grade" DE. I've read that if it's red or grey, there is clay in it. The white looks like unbleached flour once you open the bag and get a good look at it. It will say 87% DE. That is the "people" food grade. The other food grade is alright for animals, but I think I'll give my three chicks the good stuff every 4-5 months by adding it to their feed as a wormer. The larger bag I bought from TSC I haven't opened yet, but I think it may be a bit reddish. If that's the case, I'll use it in the coop and in their dust bath area and maybe even apply it to them if I see any critters on them, but not in their feed. I have started taking the good stuff myself! Twice a day I put a heaping teaspoon in a glass of water and stir like a mad woman, then drink it down. If you let it sit, the DE all sinks to the bottom of the glass. It's odorless and pretty much tasteless. It does not dissolve. It may be even easier if mixed into a yogurt or a smoothie, or even in juice. I've found a bunch of videos on YouTube about it and all the benefits for people. I have so many oddball physical problems that I've decided to try it and see. I've only taken it two days now. I think it'll take a while to see any real results, but I haven't dropped dead or anything yet either, so I figure it should be alright for my chicks. :)
  10. Searsmom
    Has anybody ever cooked anything with food grade DE or is this just something I need to get my head wrapped around?
  11. jchny2000
    Just wanted to mention... I was carrying the bag of DE in one arm, FF pig feed in the other. Set the bag down next to the fence, and fed my piglets. One by one, they smelled the bag and attacked it like they were starving!
    So that tells me, there is something good happening there. Interesting reaction. Piglets are very smart, hogs and sows even more so, There may be a lot more to the stuff than we realize.
  12. dianacirce
    If you encounter a problem with lice/mites, how often can you apply DE directly to the birds to get rid of them. I was using poultry protector, but it says only to spray directly every other day for a week, then once a week. We had a nest of wild birds in the roof of the coop that we didn't notice, and they tore through into the coop and my girls got bugs. I have it to a manageable level, but I want them gone. For my girls' sakes, and for the sake of the birds I will be adding to the coop once they are old enough. I really appreciate this article! I will be adding the DE to my chicks box while they are growing
  13. dawg53
    Well said NYREDS.
  14. Gardeningmama
    I use DE as liberally as you (haven't quite brought myself to eating it just yet). I love it, and can't agree enough about the smell control, fly control, and it certainly dries up the poo. One thing I have finally learned is to wear a face mask when spreading it. I couldn't figure out why I kept coming up with spontaneous breathing problems. Eventually I realized it was happening right after using the dust. Now I wear the mask, and no more problems.
  15. kapie9969
    I bought it on ebay.Seems to keep the bugs and smell under control.I dust my chickens once in awhile.Ive also put it in the area where they do theyre dust bath.Yes mine is food grade and i have taken it for a two week period to help out my insides.Its very interesting when you read about it.
  16. Lady Ressler
    This is so great. I was given a sample of this from a lady I bought goats from but I couldn't remember what it was called. This has got to be it. It is described here just as she did. Thank you!!!!
  17. JulyBlizzard
    NYREDS is correct.
  18. JulyBlizzard
    I have found it doesn't quite do the job of many of its claims. I use it in the coop but I understand it can hurt their respiratory systems if you use it where they dust bath. As for it becoming wet I understand that it takes away the properties that make it useful in the first place.
    In my garden this year due to the drought my cucumbers and their relative melons were set upon by ants in late summer. The ants of course were harvesting aphids. I decided to dust the melon plants with DE. First none of the honey bees was effected by it. Second the ants didn't like it for maybe less than a day. By the next day they didn't care.
    I often wonder why we would say here is a safer substitute for pest control. I think we need to look deeper and find what is nature's way is in controlling pests. The best I have heard of so far is deep litter.
  19. SomeChickenGuy
    I have been using DE for a long time now and it is amazing. It has kept all pests at bay and also when creepy crawlers pass away in it - it gives the chickens easy access to a quick snack. I have also used this in dog houses and rabbit hutches to keep fleas at bay and has tremendously helped out with slugs. They hate it because it dries them out, I know that DE is not meant for that use, but it has helped eliminate them from bothering my garden. I LOVE DE!!!!
  20. KPenley
    Thanks for all of the information on DE!
      Brennket likes this.
  21. NYREDS
    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.
  22. BYC Project Manager
    Congratulations, Dawn419! Your article is featured on the homepage! Thank you for writing it and sharing it with our community.
  23. KristinLLB
    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.
  24. Chicken Techie
    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.
  25. PurplePoppiPpl
    does anyone know if it can be bought at fleet farm or farm and fleet?
  26. jchny2000
    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.
  27. gar06
    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.
  28. Phottoman
    @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?'
  29. gar06
    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.
  30. Phottoman
    Oops, I had to return it. I didn't look close enough at the packaging, and this was NOT labeled as "food grade."
  31. Phottoman
    I just got back from "town" and I went to Home Depot. Their four pound bag is $8.97
  32. TheHippyGardene
    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.
  33. egar1861
  34. 4-H DuckQueen
    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!
  35. Lizhessen
    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...??????
  36. the1honeycomb
    I bought mine at TSC 20lb 12.00 can't wait to start using it!
  37. Peter1975
  38. gar06
    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
  39. JimmyE
    I was doing OK until you told us you eat it.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: