Let’s begin today by admitting that all clays are not created equal. Some we find in the subsoil out in the garden. And, that’s a little different than the stuff we use in mud baths, which is different than the stuff we make pottery from. For our purposes, we’ll be discussing a particular and particularly useful type of clay called bentonite clay.
Now, not even bentonite clays are all the same. In general, these clays are formed by volcanic ash, typically when said ash is weathered in seawater, and it is mostly composed of a mineral called montmorillonite. Bentonite beds that have been freshly exposed have a bluish-greenish hue, but the color morphs into creamy yellowish-browns with age. It is renowned for being incredibly absorbent.
- Interesting tidbits: Bentonite clay gets its name from the largest source of it: Benton, Wyoming. Montmorillonite is named for the place it was first discovered: Montmorillon, France.
Moving forward, we need to know that there is a more expensive food-grade bentonite and a less costly inedible kind. For anything used in or on the body, it’s important to get edible bentonite, but for home and garden projects, the cheaper version will suffice. Food-grade bentonite is cleaned more thoroughly and handled more carefully.
Now, what’s the point of all this? How can one use bentonite clay for DIY living? So glad someone rhetorically asked.
- Bentonite clay is used to cure stomach issues. Because the clay is so absorbent, it is taken internally (one teaspoon of clay dissolved into one cup of water) to pull toxins from the gut. This can help with diarrhea, constipation, and leaky gut. In the same way, taking out bad bacteria also helps with digestion, viruses, and food poisoning.
- Bentonite clay is used to soothe skin Irritations. Whether they be burns, bites, poison ivy, or inflamed acne, a bentonite paste (one tablespoon in a cup of water) can be applied topically to soothe the pain. It absorbs oil from the skin, or it can pull out
- Bentonite clay can be drunk for internal detoxification. Food-grade bentonite can be mixed with water to detoxify our organs and bodily inner workings. It both absorbs bad bacteria and heavy metal. Because the clay has negative ions, it attracts stuff with positive ions and pulls them out of the body when expelled.
- Bentonite clay can be applied topically for external detoxification. This can be done by making a little paste to treat specific areas, or the clay (about a cup) can be added to your bath water for a good soak in it. Or, make a face mask. It’ll pull toxins from the skin, the largest organ in the body.
- Bentonite clay helps to balance our pH level. Modern diets, with excess oil and sugar, make our bodies lean unnaturally (and unhealthily) to the acidic side of things. It makes us more susceptible to diseases and other issues, like bad breath. Bentonite clay is alkaline and will help to balance out the system.
- Bentonite clay is a great ingredient in homemade shampoo. It removes buildup in hair follicles, fights dandruff, and conditions dry hair. It is also thought to promote hair growth by removing skin blockages.
- Bentonite clay can be a hard-working component in DIY deodorants. While baking soda makes a dandy homespun deodorant, it can irritate some people’s armpits. Bentonite has the same absorbent power but often without bad reactions.
- Bentonite clay is a valuable component in toothpaste. Because it removes toxins and bad bacteria, bentonite clay helps with breath issues, as well as gum issues. It also helps to provide good minerals for your teeth. It may even restore teeth with decay. It’s a great thing for homemade toothpaste or tooth powder.
Home & Garden
- Bentonite is a natural sealer/sealant. It is used as a natural sealer for leaky ponds and dams. It can be used to seal cracks in basement walls, concrete floors and so on. When it absorbs a little water, it expands and fills up holes and cracks, eliminating leaks. And, of course, we don’t need food-grade bentonite for this.
- Bentonite is a mineral-rich, water-retaining soil additive. For those with sandy soils that drain too quickly, bentonite can be helpful. Added to sandy soil, it can dramatically increase moisture retention.
So, in about 750 words or so, bentonite clay is some pretty useful stuff to have around. The high-quality, food-grade stuff can be purchased at health-oriented stores, including everything from CVS to Trader Joe’s to Walmart, or it is very easy to find online. The industrial stuff is available at farm supply shops.
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