Diatomaceous Earth vs. Fuller's Earth

What's the Difference?

Diatomaceous Earth and Fuller's Earth are both types of natural substances that have various uses and benefits. Diatomaceous Earth is composed of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of algae, and is known for its high silica content. It is commonly used as a natural insecticide, as it can effectively kill pests like ants, bed bugs, and fleas. Additionally, Diatomaceous Earth is used in gardening to improve soil quality and drainage. On the other hand, Fuller's Earth is a type of clay that is rich in minerals like magnesium, calcium, and iron. It is widely used in skincare and beauty products due to its ability to absorb excess oil and impurities from the skin, making it an excellent ingredient for face masks and cleansers. Fuller's Earth is also used in the textile industry for its ability to remove oil and grease stains from fabrics. While both substances have their unique properties and applications, they share the common characteristic of being natural and environmentally friendly alternatives for various purposes.


AttributeDiatomaceous EarthFuller's Earth
CompositionPrimarily made up of fossilized remains of diatomsAbsorbent clay composed of various minerals
AppearanceWhite or off-white powderLight gray or tan powder
UsesInsecticide, filtration aid, abrasive, absorbentAdsorbent, decolorizing agent, absorbent, skincare
OriginDerived from the remains of marine diatomsFormed from the alteration of volcanic ash
PorosityHighly porous with a large surface areaLess porous compared to diatomaceous earth
Chemical CompositionPrimarily composed of silicaContains various minerals like montmorillonite, palygorskite, etc.
Water AbsorptionCan absorb up to 150% of its weight in waterCan absorb up to 100% of its weight in water

Further Detail


Diatomaceous Earth and Fuller's Earth are two types of naturally occurring substances that have various applications in different industries. While they may sound similar, they have distinct attributes and uses. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of both Diatomaceous Earth and Fuller's Earth, highlighting their differences and similarities.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous Earth, also known as DE, is a sedimentary rock formed from the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. It is primarily composed of silica, a mineral that gives it its unique properties. DE is available in different forms, including powder and granules, and is widely used in various industries.

One of the key attributes of Diatomaceous Earth is its high porosity. The rock has countless microscopic pores, which make it an excellent absorbent material. DE is often used as a natural insecticide and pest control agent due to its ability to absorb lipids from the exoskeletons of insects, causing them to dehydrate and die.

Furthermore, Diatomaceous Earth is widely used in filtration processes. Its porous structure allows it to trap and remove impurities, making it an effective filter medium for water, beverages, and even swimming pools. Additionally, DE is used in the production of cosmetics, toothpaste, and various household cleaning products due to its gentle abrasive properties.

It is important to note that not all Diatomaceous Earth is suitable for consumption. Food-grade DE, which undergoes additional processing to remove impurities and contaminants, is safe for human consumption and is often used as a natural supplement due to its high silica content, which is believed to have potential health benefits.

What is Fuller's Earth?

Fuller's Earth, also known as Multani Mitti, is a type of clay that is primarily composed of hydrated aluminum silicates. It is named after the English textile worker, Thomas Fuller, who discovered its cleaning properties in the 18th century. Fuller's Earth is widely used in various industries, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and oil refining.

One of the notable attributes of Fuller's Earth is its excellent absorbent properties. It has the ability to absorb oils, impurities, and toxins from the skin, making it a popular ingredient in facial masks, cleansers, and other skincare products. Fuller's Earth is known for its ability to cleanse and purify the skin, leaving it refreshed and rejuvenated.

In addition to its cosmetic applications, Fuller's Earth is also used in the treatment of oily and acne-prone skin. It helps to control excess oil production, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation, making it an effective remedy for various skin conditions. Furthermore, Fuller's Earth is used in the production of cat litter, as it can absorb and neutralize unpleasant odors.

Fuller's Earth is also utilized in the oil refining industry. It is used as a bleaching agent to remove impurities and color from oils, such as vegetable oils and mineral oils. The clay's absorbent properties make it an ideal material for this purpose, ensuring the purity and clarity of the refined oils.

Comparison of Attributes

While both Diatomaceous Earth and Fuller's Earth have absorbent properties, they differ in their composition and applications. Diatomaceous Earth is primarily composed of silica, making it highly porous and suitable for filtration and pest control. On the other hand, Fuller's Earth is composed of hydrated aluminum silicates, which give it excellent absorbent properties for skincare and oil refining.

Another difference lies in their uses in the cosmetic industry. Diatomaceous Earth is often used as a gentle abrasive in toothpaste and cleaning products, while Fuller's Earth is primarily used in facial masks and cleansers for its oil-absorbing and purifying properties.

Furthermore, Diatomaceous Earth has applications in the agricultural industry as a natural insecticide, while Fuller's Earth finds its use in the production of cat litter due to its odor-absorbing capabilities.

Both substances have their own unique attributes and applications, making them valuable resources in various industries. It is important to consider their specific properties and uses when selecting the appropriate material for a particular application.


In conclusion, Diatomaceous Earth and Fuller's Earth are two distinct substances with different attributes and applications. Diatomaceous Earth, composed primarily of silica, is highly porous and finds its use in filtration, pest control, and various household products. On the other hand, Fuller's Earth, composed of hydrated aluminum silicates, is known for its absorbent properties in skincare and oil refining.

While both substances have absorbent properties, they have different compositions and uses in various industries. Understanding their unique attributes allows us to appreciate their value and select the appropriate material for specific applications. Whether it is for filtration, pest control, skincare, or oil refining, Diatomaceous Earth and Fuller's Earth offer distinct benefits and contribute to a wide range of industries.

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