The main difference between diatomaceous earth and bentonite clay is that diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that is formed from the fossilized remains of diatoms, which are single-celled algae with silica-based cell walls, while bentonite clay is a type of clay derived from volcanic ash that has undergone weathering and decomposition over a long period.
Diatomaceous earth and bentonite clay are naturally occurring substances. Both these substances find applications in industrial settings.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Diatomaceous Earth
– Definition, Properties, Applications
2. What is Bentonite Clay
– Definition, Properties, Applications
3. Similarities Between Diatomaceous Earth and Bentonite Clay
– Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Diatomaceous Earth and Bentonite Clay
– Comparison of Key Differences
Bentonite Clay, Diatomaceous Earth
What is Diatomaceous Earth
Derived from the fossilized remains of diatoms, diatomaceous earth has a rich geological history and a wide range of practical uses. The story of diatomaceous earth begins millions of years ago in ancient bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, and oceans. Diatoms, the tiny algae that form these fossilized remains, thrive in aquatic environments and play a significant role in the carbon cycle. As diatoms die, their silica-rich cell walls, known as frustules, gradually sink to the bottom of the water bodies. Over time, layers of these silica deposits accumulate and eventually become fossilized, forming the unique sedimentary rock known as diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous earth is primarily composed of amorphous silica, which gives it its characteristic chalky white appearance and fine, powdery texture. Moreover, the silica content in DE typically ranges from 80% to 90%, making it a valuable source of this essential mineral. Additionally, other elements found in smaller quantities include aluminum, iron, calcium, and magnesium.
One of the most striking features of DE is its porous structure. The fossilized diatoms create countless microscopic cavities and channels within the sedimentary rock, which contributes to its high surface area. This porous nature also gives DE excellent absorbent properties, which makes it a popular material for filtration and adsorption applications.
Diatomaceous earth is widely used in various industries due to its unique properties. Its primary applications include acting as a filtration aid to purify liquids, being an ingredient in gentle cleansers, polishes, and toothpaste, and serving as a non-toxic pest control method that damages insects’ exoskeletons.
What is Bentonite Clay
Bentonite clay is a unique type of clay derived from volcanic ash. Bentonite clay is formed from the weathering and decomposition of volcanic ash, primarily found in regions with volcanic activity. The process of bentonite formation involves the alteration of volcanic glass and other minerals under specific conditions, resulting in the formation of a unique clay mineral known as montmorillonite. Moreover, montmorillonite is a type of smectite clay with exceptional swelling and absorbent properties, making bentonite clay one of the most sought-after clays in the world.
However, the exact composition of bentonite clay can vary depending on its origin and location. In addition to montmorillonite, it may contain other minerals such as silica, aluminum, magnesium, calcium, and iron.
Furthermore, bentonite clay is widely used in various industries. It serves as a crucial component in drilling operations for oil and gas exploration, forms a strong seal in the well construction, acts as a binding agent in molding sand for the foundry industry, and aids in environmental remediation by absorbing pollutants in contaminated soils and water bodies.
Similarities Between Diatomaceous Earth and Bentonite Clay
- Diatomaceous earth and bentonite clay are naturally occurring substances.
- Both substances contain a significant percentage of silica.
- Diatomaceous earth and bentonite clay are both highly absorbent materials.
- Moreover, both substances find applications in industrial settings.
- Both diatomaceous earth and bentonite clay are believed to have detoxifying properties.
Difference Between Diatomaceous Earth and Bentonite Clay
Diatomaceous earth is formed from fossilized remains of primarily composed of amorphous silica, with other minerals like aluminum and iron. In contrast, bentonite clay is derived from volcanic ash and is mainly composed of the clay mineral montmorillonite, which is rich in silica, aluminum, magnesium, calcium, and iron.
Type of Silica
Diatomaceous earth is primarily composed of amorphous silica, while bentonite clay contains the clay mineral montmorillonite, which is a type of smectite clay rich in silica.
Moreover, diatomaceous earth is a fine, powdery substance with a chalky white appearance and has a porous and abrasive texture due to fossilized diatoms. Bentonite clay is a fine powder, typically grayish-white to greenish-gray, and forms a smooth, clay-like paste when mixed with water due to its unique swelling ability.
In addition, diatomaceous earth has excellent absorbent properties and can absorb liquids and odors effectively. Meanwhile, bentonite clay has highly absorbent with impressive swelling abilities and forms a gel-like substance when mixed with water.
Diatomaceous earth is used as a filtration aid in industries such as food and beverage processing, pool maintenance, and oil refining. However, bentonite clay is used in drilling operations, foundry molds, environmental remediation, and as a binding agent in various manufacturing processes.
In brief, the main difference between diatomaceous earth and bentonite clay is their nature. Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that is formed from the fossilized remains of diatoms, which are single-celled algae with silica-based cell walls. However, bentonite clay is a type of clay derived from volcanic ash that has undergone weathering and decomposition over a long period.
1. “Gray shale & bentonites (Benton Shale, Upper Cretaceous; Red Rock Canyon Open Space, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA) 4” By SprocketRocket – Own work (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Diatomaceous Earth” By James St. John – (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia