The small magic of bentonite clay

Bentonite clay is a powder, made from volcanic ash. (I buy mine from Mountain Rose Herbs, but it’s available online in a bunch of places. Link is not affiliate.) It is negatively charged and bonds easily with positively charged compounds, which, as it turns out, makes it useful for a variety of health applications.

What do I use it for?

Add a little water to make a paste, and slather that stuff on bug bites and stings.

The relief is nearly instantaneous. The sooner I can apply it after being bitten, the more pronounced the results.

I also put a band aid over it so it doesn’t get wiped off.

It’ll dry out, and you can flake it off (or wash it). For bad bites or stings, reapply every few hours.

I’ve read that it works well for many skin issues, but my only personal experience is mosquito bites, ant bites, and bee stings.

I’ve also read that it works well as a generic skin mask. Haven’t tried that either, but maybe I will.

I have made tooth powder including it, and my teeth looked good, but the powder was somewhat unpleasant. (Can’t entirely blame it on this ingredient, but still.)

Bentonite clay needs to be stored in glass, plastic, or wood. Stored in metal, it will absorb from the container which makes it inert. In other words, it won’t work. My little container that goes hiking with me? Plastic. I’m not keeping glass in my hiking pack, I couldn’t find a suitable wooden container, and I already had a plastic container. (And if you’re using utensils to scoop or mix it, use wood or plastic.)

If you do a search to find more information, many sites will give recommendations for ingesting it. I don’t. This is why.

There are two common types of bentonite clay: sodium and calcium. Most brands of clay are recommended for external use only. Only calcium is typically recommended for internal use. But really: its namesake mineral goes in to your body as it draws out whatever it’s drawing. A lot of extra sodium isn’t good. But if you have certain health issues, a lot of extra calcium could be a significant problem as well.

Much like any natural remedy (I’m looking at you, essential oils!), before ingesting, speak with a professional who knows about these things (naturopath, aromatherapist, etc.—most typical US physicians wouldn’t have sought training in these types of things). Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s safe to use willy nilly.

But for bug bites? Try it!

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