Fuller's earth and diatomaceous earth are similar in appearance, though their uses and means of production vary greatly. Fuller's earth is an effective oil absorbent in several settings, but can also be an ingredient for cosmetic products. Diatomaceous Earth on the other hand, is an effective natural pesticide, but is also used in pool filtration systems.
Fuller's earth is a naturally occurring mineral that was originally used to clean oils off of sheep wool, but is now used in several settings. This clay-like compound is usually comprised of about 70 percent silica, 14 percent sapphire crystal, 5 percent magnesium oxide, 5 percent iron oxide and 1 percent calcium oxide. Fuller's earth physically resembles diatomaceous earth, as they are both off-white powders.
Unlike Fuller's earth, diatomaceous earth is comprised of the skeletal remains of ancient microscopic plant organisms. The remains of these algae-like plants are believed to have built up into deep deposits around 30 million years ago. These remains are mined, then ground up to create diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is typically a mixture of approximately 3 percent magnesium, 33 percent silicon, 19 percent calcium, 5 percent sodium and 2 percent iron. Other trace minerals may exist in diatomaceous earth mixtures, including titanium, boron, manganese and copper.
Fuller's Earth Uses
Fuller's earth is used in several different cosmetic applications, as well as acting as an oil absorbent in industrial settings. This mineral is an effective skin lightening ingredient, used both to minimize sun spots and to lighten tattoos. In cosmetic products, Fuller's earth is often mixed with other minerals and small amounts of bentonite, depending on the needed consistency and performance. For industrial use, Fuller's earth is an effective absorbent of oil spills or other spills, though Fuller's earth is not mixed with other compounds when used for absorbent purposes.
Diatomaceous Earth Uses
Diatomaceous earth is generally used in two major applications. First, this mineral is an effective natural pesticide that controls a wide variety of insects. Safe for indoor and outdoor applications, diatomaceous earth can be used on plants, carpets, bedding, pet areas and around cracks and crevices to control carpet beetles, bedbugs, fleas, flies, cockroaches, slugs, snails and many other small insects and pests. Though diatomaceous earth is not harmful to warm-blooded animals, breathing the dust of the mineral should be avoided. Special mixtures of diatomaceous earth can also be used in pool filters, though this mix will not work as a pesticide.