Article: Criteria for Selecting a Quality Clay - by Perry A~
In 1998, when I first googled Bentonite Clays, I got 5,000 results. Today, in 2012, I get approximately 2 million results. That’s quite a significant increase.
To what can we attribute this increase? With the growing realization of the dangers of traditional medicines, the search for a natural and safe alternative has brought man back to this healing element that has been used for thousands of years by indigenous people around the globe.
With this rising popularity and recognition of clays being safe, natural and inexpensive, clay companies are popping up over night. This alternative to prescription, side-effect-riddled medicine has everyone wanting to get in on this opportunity to make money - and some actually care about sharing this remarkable healing agent.
As with anything that grows too fast, the lack of education and knowledge about clays can pose a danger to society. Kitchens and garages become launch pads for home grown businesses, and new domain names flood the Internet with eager entrepreneurs in search of financial freedom. Common sense and safety in handling are ignored in eagerness to capture a corner of the market.
With these concerns in mind, it is extremely important to know your clays, what the law requires, and what the clay companies should provide in the way of service and information.
First, all clays are different, making it complicated to understand the many differences in clay families. For this article, let’s focus on the Smectite Family of Clays known commonly as Bentonites. A unique trait of the Smectite Family of clays is their greater adsorption capacity over other clay families. Within the Smectite Family of clays, there exist predominately Sodium and Calcium Bentonites.
Sodium Bentonites are naturally high in salt – as high as 14%. They are the swelling or expanding clays, taking on more water when hydrated. These have been used primarily for industrial purposes (e.g., liner materials for landfills, binders for iron ore processing, suspension agents in oil well drilling, and water-proofing products for building materials).
In addition, all Calcium Bentonite Clays are not the same! They differ in composition of minerals, colors, textures, swelling capacity, taste, odor, grittiness and purity. The major differences lie in proportion of the trace minerals that make up clays. All clays contain from 60 – 70 trace minerals, and most in parts per million (ppm) and in insignificant amounts. The primary minerals determine the common names of many clays, as does the location of their source.
Calcium Bentonites are more widely known as healing clays for detoxing, cleansing, drawing our impurities and are used in many products such as toothpaste, antacids, and cosmetics.
Today, clays are carving a significant niche in the natural health world. One of the major problems is that industrial clays are not mined with attention to purity and cleanliness. For industrial purposes, it is NOT important for the clay to be clean and pure. For these purposes, clays are dirt cheap (excuse the pun), as they are only scooped up, bagged, and sold (and usually only sold by the tonnage or truck load).
The FDA has given all Bentonite clays a certification as GRAS: Generally Regarded as Safe. This refers to the exposure to clays during the milling process and for external uses. This does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that you can make health claims about clays LEGALLY. A clay company selling clay cannot legally say it will stop the pain of an insect bite, a Jellyfish sting, a tooth ache, clear up Acne, accelerate wound healing, stop Acid Reflux, diarrhea, or detox heavy metals until it has undergone one of the million dollar tests performed to FDA specifications and gets the FDA’s approval. Since Clays have been known to help 50 -100 ailments, you would need a test for each ailment, and I think you can do the math on that one. Basically, clay has positive effects on so many ailments that it would take billions of dollars to get it approved for each and every health claim.
Clay companies making healing claims are riding on the edge of serious trouble as clays become more and more popular. It is only a matter of time before the FDA rears its head and starts investigating the healing claims and shuts them down and/or issues serious fines. Today, the FDA has other fish to fry, so they have not messed with these up-and-coming clay companies.
There are companies that sell clays for internal use legally, but some have had to have their clay processed to meet stringent requirements. When clays are processed, whether by heat, sterilization or irradiation, the efficacy (strength) of the clay has been greatly reduced.
So if you can’t make healing claims, what can a company legally say about the clay they sell? They can legally say clay relieves, detoxes (can’t say what), soothes, draws impurities (it is a known fact that clay is used by the wine and beer industry for drawing out impurities), stimulates, and a few other very safe generic terms with no definitive meaning.
Anytime a good thing comes along, there are those who recognize it as an opportunity to make money and will jump in and take advantage by pushing the rules. The misuse of the internet is a good example. More and more clays are pushing the edge of truth. Some are copying information verbatim from other sites and claiming it as their own.
One man claimed to be selling Dead Sea mud that actually was Illinois dirt laced with cornstarch. This is another interesting statement: “Vegetables are not attacked by pests when grown with Brand X clay in the soil.” I would say to them, “Show me some proof.” If you have a concern with a statement made by a clay company, question it and ask for an explanation.
My greatest concern with the influx of new clays is the lack of clay knowledge and the harm it will bring to the good reputation of quality clays.
There are many confusing and misleading statements to lure you to a particular clay. KNOW YOUR CLAY. Do your due diligence by asking the company questions and for a lab test as to the purity, cleanliness and an analysis of the primary minerals.
Criteria for selecting a quality clay and a reliable clay source:
- A natural calcium Bentonite clay, pure and free of contaminants.
- A pH of 8.5 or above.
- A mineral analysis sheet.
- A Quality Control Lab report showing the clay falls within the safety guidelines.
- A living clay, Montmorillonite/Calcium Bentonite, from the Smectite family of clays.
- A green swelling clay that Absorbs and Adsorbs.
- A pure clay that it is odorless and tasteless.
- An all natural vs. processed clay.
- Professional packaging (no Ziploc bags or hand-written labels) with labels showing directions and ingredients.
- A non-gritty clay milled to a 325 screen mesh.
- A clay that expands to a 3 to 1 ratio in volume (3 parts water to 1 part dry clay).
- A company that gives you direct contact information (a phone number, physical address and an e-mail address).
- A company available to answer questions about their clay.
- A reliable company that has been in business for several years.
- A clay that does not stain material.
- A clay from a subsurface type mine protected from the elements.
- A clay direct from a source provider.
Continue to ask for the proof and do your due diligence. Educate yourself and use common sense. If you cannot speak to a person from that company, considerate it a red flag.
Now go find your perfect clay!
Perry A~ is the author of Living Clay: Nature’s Own Miracle Cure and has been an ongoing student in the study and research of Bentonite Clays since the early 1990s. It was then she was first introduced to a green healing Calcium Bentonite Clay that captured her fascination as to the amazing healing potential of dirt. She has been an advocate for Bentonite clays ever since. She is available for radio interviews, clay workshops, presentations and to answer questions about clay. She can be reached at 1-866-262-5611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.