Diatoms – characteristics

Diatom is a single-celled organism (algae) so tiny that it would have to be enlarged a thousand times so that it could be noticed. Diatoms occur in all types of water on Earth, both sweet and sweet. They even occur in moist soils. This organism is the basic food for creatures in the aquatic environment – it could be called “water grass”. The presence of higher life forms in the aquatic environment depends on the presence of diatoms in significant quantities. Without them, these organisms could not exist. Diatoms are so fertile that if all of them were collected and placed at the end of the board, swings, and all other terrestrial organisms, animals and plants, at its other end, then terrestrial organisms would be high in the air. In other words, diatoms are much more than all other terrestrial organisms put together.
Diatom shells of various species. Photo enlarged

Why is this small organism so important? It is not known how many fish or other “water food” is in your diet, but millions of people would starve if they had no access to marine and freshwater organisms.The vast majority of marine animals would not exist if they did not have access to diatoms. This tiny sea organism is, for example, the basic food of giant baleos that weigh up to 90 tons. We also do not know if the whales are aware that these organisms exist – because they certainly do not see them. The whales open their huge mouths, taking tons of water and filtering microscopic organisms. The largest animal on Earth owes its life to one of the smallest organisms.How important are diatoms for you? It does not matter if you have heard about these organisms. They are important for you and perhaps your existence. We are sure that the human race would not exist – at least in the form in which we know it – if there were no diatoms. It is very important that you gain knowledge about these organisms and know why they are so important.

Diatomaceous earth or diatomite, are fossilized remains of diatom shells that lived in the aquatic environment millions of years ago, and then in the process of drying out the reservoirs formed deposits of organogenic rocks. Diatomite shells in diatomaceous earth are mainly composed of silicon dioxide SiO2.

Diatom shells for agricultural and breeding purposes should have a shape with numerous holes in the walls. They must also come from freshwater, because such deposits are characterized by a stable content of diatoms with a constant, durable shape of armor.

Freshwater, glacial cylindrical diatom shells originating from deposits in North America. They must be amorphous – have a non-crystalline structure. Photograph from a SEM microscope.

Saltwater deposits, on the other hand, contain a mixture of various types of diatoms with various shape of armor, and their shells are fragile and break easily. In addition, they contain a large number of other components that block holes in diatom shells, which seriously reduces the effectiveness of diatoms and makes them unsuitable for our purposes. The durable structure of the diatomite and the unchanging composition are therefore important for the effectiveness of its operation.

An example of saltwater diatoms.

Our freshwater deposits contain 91% -95% SiO2 amorphous silica. These deposits are characterized by high purity and contain stable, small amounts of other components that deposited simultaneously with diatoms. Freshwater deposits in the mountains, such as ours, have formed as a result of dissolving very clean snow and ice. Dissolved snow and ice were a source of water in which diatoms later lived. Analyzes of many other deposits have proven that our deposits have exceptional purity compared to others, which means that according to the standards of the American Food and Drug Administration, FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have FCC – Food Chemical Codex Grade quality.

Let’s also remember that amorphous SiOsilica present in the natural state is a rare mineral variety. Silica turns into a crystalline state at higher temperatures with volcanic activity or as a result of industrial human activity.

Diatomaceous earth containing crystalline silica (calcined) is used in filtration systems, e.g. in swimming pools. Fine crystalline silica is very dangerous when it is inhaled or when it enters the digestive system. Crystalline silica has very sharp and hard particles that can be dangerous to the walls of the digestive tract of humans and animals.

Silica structure 2D – amorphous.

Silica structure 2D – crystalline.

Crystalline silica is relatively harsh to touch and has a pinkish or white color (freshwater origin – like the one above) or brown, gray (saltwater origin).

Silica of saltwater origin. Also not suitable as a foodstuff.

Amorphous (non-crystalline) silica of food-grade origin. It can be used as a food supplement or food additive for humans and animal feeds.

It is white, soft to the touch and has a white or cream white color. Gray or brown freshwater amorphous silica may also be of the “food grade” type, but are only suitable as an additive to feed or a component of natural fertilizers due to the slightly higher content of other mineral substances.