So what’s in my buckets of wheat? Diatomaceous earth! Don’t worry. You don’t have to pronounce it. Just USE it. What is diatomaceous earth? Well, it’s a HECK of a lot better than oxygen absorbers. It doesn’t suffocate wheat and it easily takes care of the weevil eggs that are inherent in all wheat. (The better the quality of wheat though, the less you have.) Oh, and it’s good for you too!
Let’s start with the wheat first though. Wheat is actually intended to be a living, breathing organism when you eat it. I’m sure you’ve heard or read of “the staff of life” before, right? It is actually living, just like a seed. So you actually WANT it to continue to breathe a bit. Just like anything else you want to sprout, you want this to essentially stay alive. So putting oxygen absorbers in it essentially sucks the life out of it. Eating “dead” wheat vs. ‘live” wheat is essentially the difference between eating freezer-burned produce and freshly picked. That’s not to say it’s a “no-no” to do so. It’s just not the best way to have your wheat. So how about using something in your wheat that not only is good for your wheat, but good for YOUR body too? To put it in simple terms diatomaceous earth (DE) is actually the remains of fossilized algae. It’s found in deposits from seas and lakes all over the Western US and is usually about 1,000 years old when it is mined. This means that if you store it well, it has an unlimited shelf life! Yay!
Diatomaceous earth also helps with deworming. Photo c/o ehow.com
Diatomaceous earth contains silica, sodium, magnesium, and iron exclusively. Not that I’ll be making a DE casserole anytime soon, but it is perfectly ingestible. (Be sure you ONLY USE FOOD GRADE DE—not pool grade!) It is heat resistant (BIG PLUS), absorbs liquid, (another plus) and is a natural insecticide. It can also be used as a mild abrasive, blood clotter, and as a water filtration aid. It’s also is a solid combatant against mealworm, flea, tick, bed bug, ants, cockroaches, slugs, worms, and parasite infestations as well! (Just about every insect critter you can think of, actually.) Ideally you want your DE in a pure white color. The more gray it is, the more clay it contains. Understand that the food grade DE is not a chemical. It works in a purely physical manner (of which I’m not sure I want to go into here so that I don’t gross anyone out). Because of its ability to “deworm”, it’s commonly used to eliminate parasites and worms in livestock and pets. (I LOVE multi-purpose items, don’t you?) And it actually also has been known to enhance appetite in horses and cows. (Hmmm…maybe it will help 4 year-old picky eaters too?) Oh, and by the way, it also reduces the nasty smell of waste! Now, let’s talk about human consumption for a moment. Food grade DE actually comes with a recommendation of 1 heaping tablespoon for humans DAILY in order to absorb endotoxins, e-coli, viruses, ethyl mercury, drug residues, as well as eliminate parasites, and regulates digestion. So there’s no need to worry about 1 tablespoon in your 5 gallon bucket of wheat. And yes, it’s perfectly safe for children and pregnant women. Diatomaceous earth has a negative charge and bacteria has a positive charge. So it’s actually great at eliminating bacteria in your body’s system—without eliminating the good bacteria in your stomach.
You only need about a tablespoon of DE for each 5 pound bucket of wheat in order to successfully inhibit infestation. It actually adds 15 trace minerals to your wheat prior to grinding. Should you use it? Well, a study done by ACRES, USA showed that after 12 months of storage untreated grain had 16,994 insects in it. Compare that to treated grain which had a whopping 15. I vote YES! (There’s a litany of other benefits for the body that simply won’t all fit in this article.) Here are the downsides to diatomaceous earth. You don’t want to get it in your eyes. It will irritate them by drying them. It’s also drying to your skin if you are in long-term contact with it. (I HATE that feeling.) It will also kill beneficial insects such as lady bugs and bees. So be sure you want to use it where you place it. Ok. I’m off to buy some more DE. What about you? Join us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter here To see our upcoming event schedule, click here Check out our inhome-course programs Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing! For any questions or comments on this article, please leave a comment on the blog site so that everyone can benefit! Copyright Protected 2009, Preparedness Pro and Kellene. All Rights Reserved. No portion of any content on this site may be duplicated, transferred, copied, or published without written permission from the author. However, you are welcome to provide a link to the content on your site or in your written works.
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I would put about a teaspoon or even only a 1/2 teaspoon in it. It has a taste, but you'll never notice it when you cook them.
For people in Utah and Southern Idaho Azure Standard (http://www.azurestandard.com/) sells DE for $17.05 for a 50# bag plus shipping. Shipping various according to dollar amount of your order. They deliver to specific locations at drop points along their route and go as far south as St. George. They also have lots of other products (both bulk and not) at great prices. Their grain and bean prices are about the best I've found anywhere. October's internet order deadline is 3:00PM on Tuesday, October 6th. (But try not to wait until the last minute.)
I have ordered from them and have been very satisfied.
That is so awesome!! I am so glad you posted now because I was about to go buy the wheat from costco that has no oxygen-dead. I have tried to sprout the no-oxygen wheat (older wheat) with no luck, so I am thrilled to understand how to store it. I have been collecting white buckets from the bakery to store wheat etc in. I am not 100% sure they are air tight. They used to have frosting in them, so I hope so, but who knows.
I am planning to use DE with my quinoa too. This may be a weird question, but I just bought a huge box (40 lbs of dried potatoes). I am planning on putting them in smaller containers. Would it be yucky to put some DE in there? Does it have a taste? Just a random question.
Wow great post Kellene. I've never heard of that stuff. Seems a lot better than oxygen absorbers! Thanks for the info!
I'll have to go out and look into it. I assume you sprikle it on after the bucket is full?
The bugs like the dark bottom
The bugs like the dark bottom of the buckets. Sprinkle some in the bottom & on top.
To get TO the bottom, they
My one question is how long can you store wheat using that method? Seems like the stuff has an expiration date of almost forever or at least a decades if stored with oxygen absorbers and such. Does using this stuff compare with that?
yes, you can just sprinkle it on the top.
Wheat stores for a very long time. But LIVE wheat that you can sprout is tough to store long term without taking precautions. Remember that oxygen absorbers inhibit sprouting. The DE has an unlimited shelf life. Thus you would be dramatically strengthening the shelf-life of LIVE wheat.
Keep in mind that there WAS indeed some DE in the pyramids (not purposefully, of course) This may be part of the reason why it sprouted after so long.
DEFINITELY better than oxygen absorbers. And costs a LOT less too. I purchased some 1200 CC oxygen absorbers for 75 cents each a few months ago. I just got a 50 pound bag of Food Grade DE for only $24! That's great not just for my wheat, but for pest control and my own personal nutrition.
I just learned about DE afew weeks ago! It's great that we can use something that's safer and edible! Thanks Kellene for sharing this indepth article with us.
I don't know what cc they are, but you can buy oxygen absorbers from the LDS Home Storage Centers for eight cents each.
The ones from the cannery are 200 cc.
Um...did everyone miss the part of the article that talks about LIVE wheat vs. DEAD wheat??? Why are we still even talking about oxygen absorbers??
Say I put a tablespoon in a 6 gallon paid of wheat in mylar. When I open it later and take out, say, 1 gallon of the wheat, should I add more DE before re-sealing the bag? Won't the oxygen still have an effect on the wheat?
Any recommendations on where to buy some cheap (but food grade) DE?
Your best results will be found by using the internet. That's what I had to do to find a local retailer.
Nope. Oxygen doesn't negate the effects of the DE in the wheat. You're not killing the oxygen in the wheat. You're killing the bugs. In fact, you can use a duster to spray dE around your home and soundly defeat the insect that may be getting into your home as the weather gets cooler this time of year.
Should DE be used when storing beans, rice, lentils and other similar items instead of oxygen absorbers?
For wheat already packed with oxygen absorbers is it already "dead" wheat if it's been packed for a year or longer?
Thanks Kellene for all the info you give.
I've migrated to using DE in all of my dry goods. Just not my brown sugar.
Yeah, it's most likely dead, but I've sprouted some that was 2 years old with a oxygen absorber in it. It just depends on who well sealed the container was and how many cc's the oxygen absorber was.
That is really interesting information. When taking it for health benefits, how much do you take, and what all will it help? Also, it's good to know about doing away with bugs in the house. It sounds like a great product. Thank you so much for the info.
I know you indicated that you use it for all your dried goods, but do you use the same tablespoon for all the dry goods? I have some potato flakes, sugar, beans, pasta, wheat I'm getting ready to put in buckets. What do you think?
Thanks. This was timely.
Yes, a tablespoon is sufficient for a 5 gallon bucket. I would use less for a smaller container. You can just sprinkle it on top or you can mix it in. I wouldn't use it in a powdered substance like sugar though.
The primary benefit is to use it when you want the food to be "alive." Pasta and potato flakes are already dead and processed. Although it's still better for you than a chemical oxygen absorber I guess as it will also keep the bugs out, not just alter the "life" of the food.
I have been buying the big bags of flour at costco, do you suggest DE for that? I was thinking of buckets, lined w/mylar and oxygen absorbers. But if DE is a better option then im all for it!
Actually my father wants to just keep the flour in the bags as is, as we have very low humidity but I have my doubts. We have been buying a bag of pinto beans, rice, and flour (and toilet paper) every trip.
Is keeping these things in the orginal bags even an option?
As the article recommends, 1 heaping tablespoon per day. Softer skin, nails, hair, better digestion etc. Also, bacteria cannot thrive in a mineral environment. DE gives you 15 trace minerals. Do a internet search for more info that what the article provided on health benefits to get a wider picture. I LOVE IT!
Yes, you can put DE in the flour. But if he wants to keep the flour as is, then I would sprinkle some DE around where the bags are stored.
So if you put brown rice in mason jars and seal it with the food saver, do you need anything else like DE in there? How long will the rice last in the jars?
Yes, you can put DE in there. The rice will last in the jars 3-5 years without the DE if you put it in the jars. I haven't been using it long enough to know how long WITH the DE.
So would you recommend using mason jars or a #10 can for best and longest storage?
I recommend mixing things up so that if you had a earthquake, other non-glass items may survive...if you have a flood, non-bagged items may better survive. With DE, I would actually be open to storing my regular rice in the buckets. But brown rice, I would still store in cans or jars.
Thank you! What a time saver that will be to keep in the bags! Eventually we plan to have a root cellar, half with cement floor and half earth, to place all these things in. Rice and Pinto Beans ok to stay in the bags too? Sorry if you have already covered this.. I could not find it if you have :)
FYI...This DE is not food grade per Azure.
How terrible will it be if it was sprinkled on beans, rice, etc. and canned?
How terrible will it be if it was ingested?
That's correct. Which is why I recommended Five Star. Theirs IS food grade and it's nice and white. Preparedness Pro is trying to get everyone a better price on it, but for now, it's $65 for a 50 pound bag for locals. They are looking into creating smaller containers of it so that it can affordably be shipped.
So, I bought some DE and I am ready to pack my wheat in my bakery store buckets. One question. In your article, you said we need 1 TBS per 5 gallon bucket of wheat, but later you said 1 tbsp for 5 pound bucket of wheat. I am assuming you meant to say bucket again. Is that right? If I am packing the wheat in a 2 gallon bucket, I would need about 1/2 tbsp?
Yes, 1 TBSP for a 5 gallon bucket. For a 2 gallon bucket, I would use a 1/2 TBSP as you said. Good luck.
I'm kind of late to the party but this is such great information (and it did just show up on my Facebook page)that I wanted to comment. I already use DE in the garden as a snail deterrent and am ordering wheat as we speak so I will be prepared to use it for that also. One question, I can't quite match up your answers to the questions in the comments....is there a secret to that? (or is it just NOT being a dope;)
It's just a wordpress malfunction. Sometimes it keep the thread together and sometimes it separates is. Grrr..
would you be comfortable using it from agricultural feed supply stores? It's food grade, but for animals.
Food Grade DE is most often used for animals, actually. And so yes, the feed stores do sell it. I would have no problem purchasing it from the feed store if it clearly states that it is food grade.
I got my DE off of eBay and it runs roughly a $1.00/pound with shipping on a 50# bag. They also sell smaller quantities and I have found if you buy in bags it is substancially cheaper than in their containers. I also have discovered that freezing bags of flour,cornmeal,rice etc. for about a week and it can then be placed in the original containers in plastic buckets without fear or 'hatching' weavils. I also sprinkle some DE in the buckets to be extra safe as we are in a hot & humid climate.
One thing to keep in mind about freezing and bacteria and weevils. Freezing only puts off the hatching and the spread of bacteria. It does not kill it. Personally, I would skip the freezing step and just use DE right off the bat.
Great informational website. I really want to try this for myself, but more than that I would love for my 89 year old mom to try it. The only thing that I am concerned about is the fact that she has chronic kidney failure (only 50% function) and is not suppose to take a magnesium supplement because of this chronic condition. Does anyone know just how much magnesium is in diatomaceous earth. If it is only small amount, it might be okay. Please respond if you have any input to this question. Thanks again for a great post.
Thanks so much for all you
Thanks so much for all you information! I have learned SO much! I have spent DAYS reading your columns here. I bought some DE specifically because it said FoodGrade, but it is not white, no where near white. Somehow I missed that part when I read it, it probably wouldn't have mattered, cuz you can't tell over the internet anyway. Is it still ok to use internally or in my food?
I've just recently started
I've just recently started hearing problems about this. Food Grade is SUPPOSED to mean that it's safe for human consumption, however, I've noticed that some of the ranch stores are carrying it and labeling it as "food grade" but it's for the animals. (As you still wouldn't want to feed your cattle, horse, etc. DE that's intended for the pools.) Unfortunately that which would be used at the feed stores does NOT have to go through the same criteria with regard to foreign particulate content. So what you have is ostensibly OK for cattle and such, but I wouldn't use it internally on my furry babies or myself. You can still use it for outdoor pest control though. I've provided a source for DE that I know I can trust over at FiveStarPreparedness.com--it's the primary reason why that co. was created by my hubby--so that I could have at least one source that I could actually trust what they have. :-)
I just noticed you answered a comment in 2013 so I'm hoping I'm not too late to this discussion. I found your site looking for how to store my DE. I guess bugs won't go inside the bag but should I just wrap the bag up or put it all away in ziplock bags or mason jars or something? Also you talked about wheat. To deal with the bugs in my wheat I froze it but the problem is that I'd like to grind it while it's dry. Getting rid of the bugs has meant that I froze it, then washed all my wheat, then grinded it. Actually I'm not sure how I did it the last time but my point is I'd have to wait until all my wheat is dry before I grind it and hope there's no dead bugs left in it. So would I have to wait for it to air dry or is there another way to dry the wheat and then grind without dead bugs besides putting it in an oven or some other process like that?
I just store my DE in a
Thanks for replying! So the
Thanks for replying! So the DE kills the bugs but you don't sift them out? That's what I'm understanding you're saying. Let me know if I'm wrong though. And I appreciate you answering my comment especially since you wrote this years ago.
Unless you're purchasing
First timer here. Your
First timer here. Your information just saved me tons of time. Question....you point of storage in food grade buckets is well taken but I want to store grains in gallon size sealed mylar bags and put those in the bucket. Now the question...would a half teaspoon of DE be alright in the mylar bags? thanks for the great posts!!
It doesn't matter that you're