I like keeping things simple…easy to understand. My intent is to reduce some relatively complicated scientific explanations into everyday language using analogies we can all understand.

I’ll begin with the most basic fact of all – all clay is volcanic ash. When a volcano erupts and the lava flows down the side of the volcanic cone, the ash is blown high, oftentimes miles, high into the sky. Slowly it settles to the ground, sometimes nearby, sometimes hundreds of miles away, and in extreme cases it can circumvent the globe.

Volcanic ash – Clay – falls into seven separate and distinct family groups. Within these seven families there are thousands of different types of mineral compositions, each unique and serving vastly different purposes in our world.

Kaolin clays are best known for their uses in anti-diarrheal products such as Kaopectate. While it absorbs toxins and bacteria to a very limited extent, as do most clays, Kaolin clay acts primarily as a bulking agent and a diuretic. Some health food companies of late have begun selling Kaolin as a mineral supplement. I do not recommend natural Kaolin for any purpose other than severe diarrhea.

Illite clays are known for their commercial applications. It is a dirty green mineral clay found in marine settings. Some cosmeceutical companies use this industrial clay in their “mud” formulations due to it’s high content of long dormant microbials and other  sea life residue. Illite is generally a non-swelling clay, Pure finds of Illite are rare. Illites break down into the metal and mineral elements which are absorbed into the body. I would never recommend illites for internal ingestion.

Chlorite clays are known for their abrasive and cleansing properties. Cleaner and scrubbing powders are typical products made from this clay. Never use this caustic, abrasive clay on your body.

Vermiculite clays are used for making china, pottery and other like applications such as porcelain finishes on metals. While Vermiculite is not recommended for use on the body, there is one company selling a USP grade Vermiculite for internal use. This is not an adsorbent, swelling clay, and has both a positive and negative charge. Therefore I do not recommend it as it has no value as a detoxicant.

Mixed group clays occur when a volcano spews ash from several different internal plate formations. It is not uncommon to find mixed group clay formation at many mines or quarries.

Lath-formed clays are yet another mixed form and a typical use is fired bricks for construction. It is not suitable for use on the body.

Smectite clays compromise 99% of all clays used for health purposes today. Smectites are unique in that they swell while absorbing and adsorbing positive charged ions. It is the favored clay for health and dietary use as well as for many industrial applications.

Smectites are more complicated clays and have a higher exchange capacity than the other six family groups of clay. It has the unique ability to adsorb and absorb toxins at a greater rate than any other group. Calcium Bentonite Clay is a member of the Smectite family.

The term “Bentonite” is ambiguous. As defined by geologists, it is a rock formed of highly colloidal and pliable clays composed mainly of Montmorillonite, a clay mineral of the Smectite group, and is produced by in situ devitrification of volcanic ash (Parker, 1988.) The transformation of ash into Bentonite apparently takes place only in water (certainly sea water, probably alkaline lakes, and possibly other fresh water) during or after deposition (Grim, 1969; Patterson & Murray, 1983).

By extension, the term Bentonite is often incorrectly applied commercially to any pliable, colloidal and swelling clay regardless of its geological origin. Such clays are ordinarily composed largely of minerals of the Montmorillonite group but are not necessarily true Bentonite clays.

The term “Montmorillonite” is also ambiguous and is used both for a group of related clay minerals and for a specific member of that group (Bates &Jackson, 1987). In this case, Smectite is more appropriate.


The two words look alike but their difference is critical in understanding the functions of clay minerals.

Adsorption is the process by which substances stick to the outside surface of a clay molecule similar to the way a strip of Velcro works.

Absorption is the process of drawing substances into the clays internal molecular structure-similar to a sponge absorbing water.

The process by which substances are absorbed or adsorbed is through their electrical ionic charge. If you remember when you were young and you played with horseshoe magnets, when you placed like poles together-negative-to negative and positive-to positive –the two magnets repelled. When you placed opposite poles together-negative to positive-they actually pulled toward each other and stuck together.

The ionic charge of pure, natural Calcium Bentonite Clay is 100% negative. This unique clay adsorbs and absorbs positive charged ions in a similar fashion. Most everything that attacks our bodies – bacteria, virals, fungi, diseases , toxic chemicals, etc. is of a greater percentage of positive ionic charge. The beauty of Calcium Bentonite Clay is that it is blind. It doesn’t know an eczema molecule from a staph bacteria molecule, or a viral molecule. What it does know is a positive charge. As we apply hydrated Calcium Bentonite Clay topically to our bodies or drink liquid Calcium Bentonite Clay, its only function is to draw to itself positive charged molecules, which it holds like a magnet, both internally and externally, until we wash them form our bodies or pass them through our bodies. Calcium Bentonite Clay removes positive charged molecules that attack our bodies, from our bodies.


Within the Smectite family there are hundreds of different types of clays, each consisting of between 8 and 145 minerals . As mentioned earlier, the most common sub family is Montmorillonite . Further along the Montomorillonite family tree are the various Bentonites. It’s form the Smectite family tree that we find the broadest spectrum healing modality on our planet Calcium Bentonite Clay.

Montmorillonite Clay was named after the town of Montmorillon in France where it was first identified. Its common name is to French Green and you will see it packaged under several different brands today and available in many health food stores. Green swelling clays are known for their remarkable healing properties. Not to stay that non-swelling clays are not good also, but due to the molecular makeup the swelling clays have a greater drawing or detoxing potential.

According to Raymond Dextreit, an expert on clays and author of the book, Our Earth, Our Cure, the green family of clays is the most desirable and the only type recommended for ingestion.

Bentonite Clay was named after the town of Ft. Benton, Wyoming where it was first irdentified by a miner named John Pascal. His product was branded as Pascalite, which is a form of non-swelling calcium based Bentonite Clay.
Calcium Bentonite Clay is the most rare form of clay in the Smectite family. There have been only a few finds throughout the history of mines, which contained pure, natural, Calcium Bentonite Clay. Even though Sodium Bentonite, and Calcium Bentonite Clay are cousins from the same family genesis, they are as different as night and day in efficacy and intended uses.

There are ten things you should ask of any clay you are considering for topical or internal use for health purposes.

Is it a Calcium based Bentonite?
Is the clay milled to at least a 400-screen mesh particle?
Is the pH at least 9.7?
Is it a clay capable of adsorbing and absorbing positive charged ions?
Is it a green swelling clay of the Montmorillonite/ Smectite group?
Is it tasteless and odorless?
Is its efficacy, its ionic ratio at least 30 to 1? (Drawing power)
Is it an all-natural, clean clay, direct from the mine source which has not
been processed or purified in any fashion?
Is it a clay from a mine which has been protected from the elements
throughout it’s many million year history?
Is it a clay that expands and absorbs to a 3 to 1 ratio in volume? Three parts
water to one part clay.


It is critical that when you ingest clay it be Calcium based as opposed to Sodium based. Demand from any clay company that you be given a copy of the MSDS sheet and a copy of the Mass Gas Spectrometer Test results. These two documents will give you the specific mineral composition of their clay. Any company who refuses to give you this data is hiding something from you.

Most Sodium Bentonite is suitable for commercial and industrial uses such as sealing farm ponds, sealing asphalt and for use in oil rig mud pits.

A good quality Calcium Bentonite Clay should contain the following as its top three minerals in about the following percentages:
Silica Oxide 45%
Calcium Oxide 14%
Magnesium Oxide 13%

In addition, it should contain no more than 3% in sodium. One popular Sodium Bentonite clay product contains 29% sodium! When doing a cleanse, detox or tackling any health related issue, the last thing you want to do is to ingest substantial amounts of salt.

It is also important that the clay be pure, clean and natural direct from the source mine-preferably a subsurface mine that has been protected from the natural elements. Most clays that claim to be 100% pure have been cleaned using either a heat process or a hydration process to “wash” out impurities. Both processes can take a 95% pure clay to a “100%” pure state, but in doing so reduces the efficacy from around 15 to 1 down to 5 to 1. In their attempt to make a purity claim they are actually destroying the natural healing properties. Read labels carefully for any notation of the clay having been cleaned, processed, filtered, recharged or tampered with in any fashion other than milling.

Clays are all milled to various degree of “fineness”. This fineness number typically runs from 50 to 400-screen mesh. A 50-screen mesh feels like fine grain sand while a 400 mesh is almost a fine as talcum powder. The finer the mesh the better the milling process and in turn the better it hydrates when water is added. Suspension as a colloidal is cleaner, quicker and more highly charged. If taken internally in a capsule form it is a 400 mesh so that is assimilates into a colloidal in the shortest time possible after ingestions. I recommend you not buy any Calcium Bentonite Clay that is milled to less than a 400-screen mesh.

The pH of your Calcium Bentonite Clay is crucial. One of its greatest blessings to your health is its ability to increase your pH from acid to alkaline. While all clays are alkaline, only 2 are 9.3 to 9.7 pH in their natural state. I recommend you select a Calcium Bentonite Clay with the highest pH available.

Naturally you want tasteless, odorless clay that is creamy smooth when hydrated. Unprotected clays tend to pick up odors. Be wary of clays with even the slightest odor.

Lastly, and of paramount importance, is a clay’s efficacy rate – how well it works. This piece of information is provided in a ration from such as 10 to 1. This means the following: a clay with a 10 to 1 efficacy rating has the ability to remove 10 times its molecular weight  in positive charged ions from your body. By contrast, a clay with a 3 to 1 efficacy rating would remove 3 times its molecular weight in positive charged ions (the bad stuff that attacks our bodies). In this example a 10 to 1 ratio when compared to a 3 to 1 ratio means the first clay would be over 3 times as effective as the second.

Clays capable of exchanging ions are called Active Clays or Detox Clays. A clay’s ability to absorb directly affects it’s efficacy rate. Green swelling clays from the Montmorillonite/Smectite group are known as healing clays because of this trait.

There are three clays on the market today with an efficacy ratio greater than 12 to 1. Only one natural Calcium Bentonite Clay has a 31 to 1 efficacy ratio. I recommend you read the literature carefully and call the company reps to find the best products among the many second best on the market today. If they don’t know the efficacy rate and mineral content, I would consider it a doubtful source. Remember, the purpose of clay when used on a daily basis is to continually remove positive charged ions – the things that attack our bodies. The very best clay to accomplish this goal is a pure natural Calcium Bentonite Clay with a pH of 9.7+, a screen mesh of 400 and an efficacy ratio of at least 30 to 1.

That being said, knowing what clay to use, becomes the paramount question. I’ve looked at two clays, and swore by looking at them they were the same… And yet, the swelling properties were quite different, as were the tastes. They even look the same under a 10,000x microscope, as the screen mesh and minerals are the same, only in slightly different percentages.

Today there are many other technologies available for testing various clays. Most are very expensive. For verifying results of metal contamination I recommend Hair Analysis and the Melisa Test, a blood test for metal sensitivity. The Melisa Test measures your immune system’s (lymphocyte) activation when exposed to specific heavy metals.


The molecular shape of a Sodium Bentonite molecule is pyramidal in shape. Its molecular weight is the same as that of a Calcium Bentonite molecule. The difference is that a Calcium Bentonite molecule is shaped like a credit card- a large, very flat rectangle. Both have a negative ionic charge and both will absorb (soak up like a sponge) the same amount of positive charged ions. The difference is in the surface area where adsorption occurs (sticks to the surface like Velcro). The surface area of a Calcium Bentonite Clay molecule is 20 times that of a Sodium Bentonite Clay molecule, therefore the efficacy is a greatly enhanced based on its adsorption rates.

Remember, the magic of Calcium Bentonite Clay lies in the fact it is a strongly negative charged ionic molecule. It “works” by drawing to itself positive charged ions, holding them within itself and on itself until the Calcium Bentonite Clay is washed from your body or passed through your body… I really do like keeping things simple…

For those desiring a more scientific explanation however try this: You will hear clay referred to as a colloid. The dictionary defines colloid (k l’oid) [GR.,=gluelike], a mixture in which one substance is divided into minute particles (called colloidal particles) and dispersed throughout  a second substance. A pertinent example is mixing dry powder clay with water. For practical purposes I refer to it as hydrated clay. A swelling clay with water added at a 1 part clay to 3 parts water ratio is about the consistency of thick pudding, depending on the amount of water added.

Colloidal particles are larger than molecules but too small to be observed directly with a traditional microscope; however, their shape and size can be determined by electron microscopy. In a true solution, the particles of dissolved substance are of molecular size and are thus smaller than colloidal particles; in a coarse mixture (e.g, a suspension) the particles are much larger than colloidal particles. Although there are no precise boundaries of size between the particles in mixtures, colloids, or solutions, colloidal particles are usually on the order of 10-7 to 10-5 cm in size.

The Scottish chemist Thomas Graham discovered (1860) that certain substances (e.g glue, gelatin, or starch) could be separated from certain other substances (e.g sugar or salt) by dialysis. He gave the name colloid to substances that do not diffuse through a semi-permeable membrane (e.g parchment or cellophane). Semi-permeable membrane- A membrane that permits the passage of a solvent, such as water, but prevents the passage of the dissolved substance, or solute-the clay.

One property of colloid systems that distinguishes them from true solutions is that colloidal particles scatter light. The British physicist John Tyndall first explained the scattering of light by colloids, known as the Tyndall effect. When an ultra-microscope is used to examine a colloid, the colloidal particles appear as tiny points of light in constant motion; this motion, called Brownian movement , helps keep the particles in suspension. Absorption is another characteristic of colloids, since the finely divided colloidal particles have a large surface area exposed.

The particles of a colloid selectively absorb ions and acquire an electric charge. All of the particles of a given colloid take on the same charge (either positive or negative) and thus are repelled by one another. If an electric potential is applied to a colloid, the charged colloidal particles move toward the oppositely charged electrode; this migration is called electrophoresis. If the charge on the particles is neutralized, they may precipitate out of the suspension.

The above passages are for those who need a scientific explanation of how clay works and why it is not digested or absorbed into the bloodstream. This is what is meant when clay is referred to as maintaining its integrity. Thus, a colloid may be precipitated by adding another colloid with oppositely charged particles; the particles are attracted to one another, coagulate, and precipitate out. When clay is taken internally, because of its large surface area and negative charge, it dominates positive charged particles (toxins and bacteria) drawing them to it and carrying them out of the body.

Many people are concerned about natural metals in some clays. Any metals in Calcium Bentonite Clays are never in isolated form and are not adsorbed into the body. Therefore the metals in clays make up are not harmful, as the body does not digest them. This is why clay is known first and foremost as a strong, safe detoxifier. For clays with a high pH it is also known as a balancer bringing the body to a balanced state. Most people are naturally on the acidic side and acidity is the breeding ground for bacteria disease.


The following are excerpts from two excellent books on natural healing and Detoxifying Clays.

“If we go back to our base physical components, we can safely say that we are built from multitudes of particles held together by electrical bonds. Electrical forces are what hold atoms and molecules together. Chemical bonds and reactions depend on these electrical forces. Therefore, all chemical reactions are, in essence, reorganizations of electrical forces, which continue to be vital at body levels, I.e, tissues and organs, When this is all taken into account, a living organism is shown to be an extremely delicate and intricate electrical system.” (homeopathy for Everyone, 1987, Gibson&Gibson.)

“During illness, the vital force is weak and incapable of supporting the body and its function. In health, however, the opposite occurs; the force is strong and is able to counteract sickness and decay. What keeps the immune system running is the energy that feeds it, the substance of life. The body will now run well, or will at least run with all sorts of mechanical problems, when there is no energy to support it.

When Calcium Bentonite Clay is consumed, its vital force is released into the physical body and mingles with the vital energy of the body, creating a stronger, more powerful energy in the host. Its particles are agents of stimulation and transformation capable of withholding and releasing energy at impulse. The natural magnetic action transmits a remarkable power to the organism and helps to rebuild vital potential through the liberation of latent energy. When it is in contact with the body, it’s very nature compels it to release its vital force from which so many plants and animals feed.

Therefore, in order to create health, the body must be stimulated and restimulated by another working energy like Living Clay. When the immune system does not function at its best, the clay stimulates the body’s inner resources to awaken the stagnant energy. It supplies the body with available magnetism to run well.

Does this mean you have to be sick to take clay? No, not at all. The best-known characteristic of clay is that it “acts as needed.” Calcium Bentonite Clay is said to propel the immune system to find a new healthy balance. Reactions are not forced, but rather triggered into effect, as they are needed. To put it in other words, clay strengthens the body to a point of higher resistance. In this way, the body’s natural system has an improved chance of restoring and maintaining health.” (The Clay Cure, 1998, Ran Knishinsky)