Table of Contents
- What Exactly Is Bentonite Clay?
- The Ancient Origins of Healing Clay
- Bentonite Clay Uses
- Is It Safe?
- Any Side Effects?
- Bonus Benefit – How Can Bentonite Clay Help Detox Heavy Metals from the Body?
- Where to Buy Food Grade Clay?
- Should I Get the Powder or Liquid for a Specific Use?
- Which Brands Work Best?
Take, for example, the Mughal queen Noor Jehan, who discovered the art of extracting oil from rose petals, which led to the setting up of India’s oldest perfumeries, simply so that the queen was never short of rose oil for her royal baths. Speaking of which, another legendary queen, Cleopatra, is said to have indulged in rituals such as bathing in milk, or using exquisite ingredients such as gold leaf, Dead Sea salts and special kind of clay found in the Nile, to smoothen and soften her skin, which was said to be smoother than fine silk.
Whether you believe these rituals or not, there is no doubting that the beauty they bestowed on these legendary women is most certainly not a myth. In fact, take a closer look at the labels of some best-selling skin and hair care products, and you’ll realize that a lot of them use extracts or compounds, many of which are derived from ingredients that were used centuries ago. The Japanese swear by masks made of special kinds of seaweed, algae and mineral-rich volcanic ash, Swedish face packs use mineral clay, and in homes in the Indian subcontinent, a mud pack is still the first choice when it comes to treating acne, clearing blemishes or giving the skin some well-deserved pampering.
No surprises then, that there is definitely something going on there – with clay, mud and beauty going hand-in-hand, for what seems to be centuries. What’s surprising though, is that at some point, every civilization from the Aztecs to ancient Indian people made use of one specific kind of clay, and it even finds a mention in their historical texts.
This age-old clay happens to go by the name of bentonite clay, which has taken the beauty and health markets by storm, be it in its natural form or as a key ingredient in clay packs and scrubs. The best part? It doesn’t just stop with beauty – bentonite clay also has some amazing healing properties, from helping against itchy, irritated skin, to detoxing the body. So what exactly is bentonite clay, what makes it so magical, and how does one use it for flawless, radiant skin? Read on to find out.
Bentonite clay is formed out of volcanic ash, which is ash that gets scattered on the Earth’s surface after volcanic eruptions. When this ash weathers and ages after coming into contact with water, it turns into bentonite clay. It is precisely this weathering and aging that gives bentonite clay its velvety soft texture and mineral-rich properties.
The origins of bentonite clay – the substance as well as its name are traced to the discovery of large deposits of the same near a rock formation called Benton Shale, in Fort Benton, near Rock River in Wyoming.
The primary compound that bentonite clay is made of, is a flat crystal called Montmorillonite. This crystal has a fairly strong negative ionic charge, which gives bentonite clay one of its most magical properties. Because of its negatively charged ions, bentonite clay attracts positively charged particles of substances such as arsenic, or lead. This strong negative electromagnetic charge gets activated when bentonite clay is mixed with water, which means, is that the clay essentially works like a magnet that pulls harmful and toxic metals and compounds towards it, making it a powerful cleansing, detoxifying and purifying substance. In addition, bentonite clay also provides the body with some essential minerals and restores the body’s pH levels. In addition, bentonite clay is highly hygroscopic – when mixed with water its particles open like those of a sponge, and it can absorb 40-50 times its weight, which is also why it is great for pulling out and absorbing toxic substances.
There are a few types of Bentonite clay which are named after the primary element that is found in their composition. There is sodium bentonite, calcium bentonite, aluminum bentonite, and potassium bentonite, each with unique benefits – of these, the two most popularly used variants of bentonite clay are sodium and calcium bentonite. This simply means that each variant contains either exchangeable ions of sodium or calcium. While there has been a lot debated about which of these variants is safe for oral consumption, recently, myths that claim only sodium bentonite is ideal for internal use have now been completely debunked- read further, and you’ll know why.
Bentonite clay is available in many forms, from face packs, powders to even capsules. It is a pale brown, or beige colored powder, which is odorless, tasteless and fine to the touch. Because of its common color, and odorless nature, it is fairly easy to adulterate bentonite clay, and the market is flooded with cheap variants claiming to be sourced from exotic volcanic destinations.
Right from the prehistoric era, man has been using everything he found in abundance around him to survive and fulfill his basic needs. One of these basic needs was that of water, which is probably why some of the most ancient civilizations originated and flourished around water sources such as the sea and rivers. Man did not stop at just using these sources for water and fish, eventually, he also discovered substances like mud, sand and clay, which found a permanent place in human life – man learned how to use clay and mud to make pots, tools and to build shelters. Not just this, but our prehistoric ancestors also discovered that mud and clay could be used to heal wounds – perhaps, taking inspiration from animals around them. You’ll probably still see animals roll in mud when wounded, or eat mud – these are their primal remedies of sorts.
From learning to use mud and clay to make life easier, to knowing that certain kinds of mud and clay helped produce abundant crops, man began to discover that soils vary in their composition and the minerals they are rich in, which helps them nourish certain plants. Soon, man began to use certain kinds of clay and mud to heal and cure, to soothe the skin against burns and rashes caused by heat.
As civilizations grew, and prospered, man began to document the use of natural ingredients. As a matter of fact, the use of clay as a healing substance goes all the way back to Rome, in the 6th century, with philosophers like Aristotle and Marco Polo describing the use of certain kinds of earth for medicinal uses.
In fact, different kinds of clay have been written about and researched in several medical journals and books, with authors discussing several native cultures, like those in the Andes, Central Africa and Australia, who consumed different kinds of clay as a form of remedy, as well as, for traditional healing rituals. Many wandering tribes and people would carry lumps of dried clay and dissolve a small amount of the clay in water to drink alongside their meals, to prevent poisoning as well as to cool the body from the harsh heat of the sun.
Bentonite clay can be used to benefit your body in many ways, by applying it on the surface of your skin, as well as by consuming it orally. Since it is a highly hygroscopic substance, which means it absorbs liquids, it can be mixed into a mask, a facial rinse, or a solution for oral consumption. Whether you apply it topically, ingest it, or use it for both purposes, bentonite clay will work wonders for your body. Here are 10 amazing benefits of bentonite clay that will make you want to start using it right away!
Your skin is home to millions of bacteria, toxins and pollutants like dust and carbon particles which it constantly absorbs from the environment. Bentonite clay is a great way to rid your skin of these harmful substances. Because of its hygroscopic properties, or ability to absorb water, bentonite clay, when mixed with water as a paste is an excellent medicinal pack for the skin. When this pack is left to dry on the skin, the clay pulls out the bacteria, toxins and pollutants from the surface of the skin and as well as from deep within the pores. This helps reduce the chances of patchy, red irritated skin, or blemishes and blackheads. In addition, the application of bentonite clay also helps alleviate redness from allergic reactions, thanks to its ability to pull out toxins or harmful chemicals.
Lastly, bentonite clay is a proven remedy in the process of healing skin infections and speeding up the recovery process of disorders like eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis, making it a safe, organic alternative to chemical-laden ointments.
You’ve probably experienced the pain and discomfort that a single paper cut, insect sting or burn from cooking can cause – while ice helps, it may not always be possible to have an ice pack dripping over the injury. That’s when bentonite clay comes in handy. Simply make a paste using bentonite clay powder and clean, filtered water, and apply it in a thick layer over the sting or cut; then let it dry. For burns, apply some antiseptic solution first, lay a piece of clean cloth over the burn and then apply a thick layer of the bentonite clay paste, making a poultice, which is also a traditional remedy in many parts of the world. The clay not only soothes the inflamed skin, but also helps to keep it sterilized by creating a protective barrier between the wound and the germs in the air.
Bentonite clay might as well have been a part of ancient skincare rituals, and with good reason, because it works wonders for your skin. For starters, it works as both a scrub and a pack. Because it is highly absorbent, a bentonite clay pack pulls out excessive sebum and greasiness when used as a scrub, but at the same time, is super gentle on the skin, making it ideal for those who have sensitive skin that’s also oily and prone to frequent acne. When used as a face pack, bentonite clay soothes and restores the skin, resulting in fresher looking skin. It also leaves your pores unclogged, visibly reducing the frequency and intensity of blackheads and pimples. Use this pack a few times a month, and your skin will feel softer and look more radiant that it has, ever before.
If your hair is dry, brittle and prone to breakage, it probably isn’t receiving the nutrients it needs. On top of that, you may be making it worse by using sulfate and paraben-filled shampoos and products. Or maybe you have curly hair, and you are constantly dealing with an oily scalp that needs frequent cleansing, which leaves your hair frizzy and dry. Your hair draws in toxins from the environment and also from any products you may be using. This, combined with constant exposure to sunlight or the dry air from air-conditioning, can often result in serious damage to your hair.
The solution to giving your hair some tender love and care is a super easy, quick clay mask, which will cleanse your scalp of excessive oils, product deposits and dead cells, but also nourish your hair and pump some much-needed minerals into it. Just remember to wash off the mask carefully – you don’t want the hardened clay to cause more breakage and if your hair feels too dry after the mask, rub in some natural oil to lock in the moisture. Leave the mask on for a few minutes before your shower, and step out with hair that is clean, silky and soft!
Why should you stop at using bentonite clay only on your face, when you can easily use it for the rest of your body too? A cupful of bentonite clay added to your bathtub will transform your routine bath into a therapeutic, relaxing experience. Simply throw in a cupful of bentonite clay powder into a tub of warm water, mix it and soak in this relaxing bath. Doing this will not only soothe your aching muscles at the end of a long day, but the clay will also pull out toxins from your skin and beneath it, while also softening your skin. For a bonus, use a pack made with clay on your face while you put on your favorite music and relax in this soothing bath and use a bit of the same pack to exfoliate all the dead skin on your elbows and shoulders. After all, when you’re using an ingredient that was used by queens, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t feel like royalty, right?
When taken internally, bentonite clay absorbs impurities, toxins and bacteria from the gut, leaving your digestive system clean and detoxified. Additionally, its high absorption property makes it a useful ingredient that helps speed up the process of recovering from stomach related disorders like vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.
Bentonite clay is alkaline in nature. This makes it ideal to balance out the pH levels in your digestive system as it aids in the absorption of excessive stomach acid, which in turn curbs the frequency and occurrence of acidity and acidity-related disorders such as bloating, flatulence, acid reflux and heartburn. A spoonful of bentonite clay, mixed well with a glass of clean, filtered water, when drunk at night can help detoxify the body the next morning.
Minerals are necessary for all basic bodily functions and processes, right from giving your body its ability to absorb and assimilate nutrients like vitamins, fats, proteins and carbs from your diet, to aiding in functions like immunity, nervous functions and keeping the body clean from the inside. Bentonite clay is rich in minerals, since it is formed out of volcanic ash. Ingesting bentonite clay, either mixed with water, or in the form of capsules, is an easy and safe way to incorporate some essential minerals into your diet. Mineral deficiency has been linked to poor eyesight, weak bones, low immunity and diseases of the hair and skin. A spoonful or two of bentonite clay, taken regularly, will help keep all of these at bay for sure.
Bentonite clay has some real superpowers when you use it for oral health. Its antibacterial and purifying properties help to keep bad breath, plaque and cavity-causing germs at bay. At the same time, it also draws out toxins from the mouth, giving you healthier teeth and gums, which in the long run also impacts the rest of your body, since gum health is now proven to be closely linked with a healthy heart.
When your mouth has been flushed out of toxins and germs, your teeth are sure to shine whiter. Also, remember, that bentonite clay is a great source of minerals, and these are extremely crucial for strong teeth. To use bentonite clay for your mouth and teeth, simply dissolve a spoonful of clay in half a glass of water and use it as an oral rinse by swirling it around in your mouth for a few seconds and spitting it out. Make sure to rinse your mouth well after doing this, since you don’t want to taste clay with your next meal!
Well, you’re talking about an ingredient that is literally made from volcanic ash, and created by Mother Nature herself. This definitely makes bentonite clay a 100% natural, organic product. However, because most of its healing and purifying properties depend on its ionic structure, the process by which bentonite clay is mined, extracted and mixed for use, matters greatly. Care must be taken to ensure that the clay does not come into contact with metal at any point, because if it happens to be even slightly wet or moist, the toxic substances from the metal equipment might leak into the clay, and also damage the equipment itself.
For this, remember never to use aluminum, steel or copper containers or spoons, either for mixing, applying or consuming bentonite clay. Your safest bet is to use clean glass bowls, or food-grade plastic containers and spoons.
The other important factor that affects the safety of bentonite clay, is common to nearly all natural ingredients. Because the demand for ingredients such as bentonite clay is so high, manufacturers will often adulterate bentonite clay by mixing it with other silicates. This may cause allergic reactions, or have side effects if adulterated bentonite clay is consumed internally.
The best way to ensure that none of the above happen, is to buy bentonite clay powder sold in organic healthcare stores, fair practice collectives or reputed organic brands online, of which you will find a few examples below.
If you are looking to buy bentonite clay to aid in digestion, or for any other internal purpose, make sure you read the label and look for clay that is classified as a food grade product, fit for oral consumption.
Other than this, there’s really nothing you have to worry about – after all, this is an ingredient that has been used for centuries. Even back then, the key to making the most of bentonite clay and its amazing properties was purity, and with the same precautions, you should be able to experience what so many ancient civilizations did, hundreds and thousands of years ago.
There is quite a debate about the side effects associated with the use of bentonite clay – be it for internal or external purposes. The first major concern is the presence of metals such as aluminum in the clay itself, which can be easily explained. Yes, bentonite clay contains a small percentage of aluminum, but you would be surprised if you were told this – so does your body! It isn’t as much about the presence of aluminum as it is its source that is of concern. Further, this percentage of aluminum in bentonite clay is practically negligible.
The second, more real, and more common side effect associated with bentonite clay is not as much a side effect, as it is a cause of minor discomfort. Many people who consume bentonite clay as a detoxifying solution conveniently forget that it is highly absorbent. The properties that make bentonite clay so powerful at drawing and absorbing toxins, bacteria and excessive stomach acid, are also responsible for it drawing water from your intestines. This means that when taken in excessive quantities, or consumed too frequently, bentonite clay might potentially lead to constipation. Like with any natural remedy, this can be easily overcome by being a little careful and not being over-enthusiastic with usage. If you are doing a bentonite clay ‘cleanse’, be sure to incorporate more fiber in your diet, and drink an extra glass or two of water after consuming the clay solution, so that your digestive system has enough water to stay lubricated even after the bentonite clay has done its work.
Really, the constipation bit is more of an exaggerated health concern. With benefits greatly outnumbering the risks, and the risks themselves being practically nothing, there’s little reason why you shouldn’t make this simple ingredient a part of your routine, and watch as it brings about some great changes to your skin, teeth, hair, gut and overall health.
Each and every cell in your body excretes waste materials, which, if not eliminated properly, turn into toxic substances that can be extremely dangerous to the body. In particular, when these toxic substances are allowed to remain in the body for long, for instance, if they keep being produced faster than the body can eliminate or filter them, this build-up of toxins can affect the body in harmful ways. You would be surprised to know that everything from chronic acidity, to joint pains or stiff muscles, indigestion, insomnia, acid reflux are all symptoms of toxic buildup within the body, as are other signs like are mental dullness, constant fatigue, as well as low immunity.
Flushing out these toxins is absolutely critical for complete health and wellness, and that’s where bentonite clay saves the day. With its alkaline properties, it regulates the pH levels in your body and controls the production of excess stomach acid, which means all your acidity related problems are now out of the way. In addition, you already know the wonders that bentonite clay works when it comes to drawing out and absorbing toxins, harmful metals and substances from your gut, which means with one teaspoonful of bentonite clay, you have the easiest way to reach 100% wellness!
Food grade, high quality bentonite clay is available in pharmacies or supermarkets that also sell organic skin care products, under various brands. Look online, and you will see various beauty blogs and sites selling a wide range of bentonite clay brands, in the form of powders, capsules, even packets that are measured out to be mixed with water for a single dose consumption. Alternately, you could also check with your local salon, if they happen to stock bentonite clay powder that is suitable for mixing into face masks or body wraps.
Look up bentonite clay online, and you’ll see it available in a variety of forms – powder, capsules and even liquid extracts. There’s really no matter of choosing one over another – they are all suitable for different purposes and as long as you’re buying a brand that’s unadulterated, reliable and safe, you’re perfectly alright.
Powdered bentonite clay is great for topical use – which means that’s the form you can buy it in if you want to use it as a beauty mask, a detoxifying bath or a hair cleanse. Store it in a dry, tight container that will keep all moisture out – you don’t want your precious clay ruined and stripped of its electromagnetic charge because a little bit of humidity got in, do you? Also remember the rule about keeping metal away from your bentonite clay, or you will end up with a useless product that does more harm than good.
Food grade bentonite clay is also great in its powdered form for oral consumption, since it has barely any taste and no smell. It may taste a little powdery or ‘chalky’ in the beginning, but you’ll soon get used to it. If you’re one of those with an extremely sensitive palate, you might want to consider the liquid form of bentonite clay, which is essentially a distilled extract of the clay, available in the same form as essential oils. Be careful though, just like essential oils, this form is highly concentrated, so if you’re using a spoonful of clay in a glass of water, you’ll want to use only a couple of drops of the extract.
The one form of bentonite clay that you should be a little wary of are the capsules – while there are some great brands online, packing bentonite clay or its extracts into capsules invariably means that there is more processing and more additives involved. You’re better off using bentonite clay as close to its natural form, just like your ancestors did.
With the wide, confusing range of brands available online, it could be difficult to zero in on one. Below are some top-rated brands of bentonite clay, which are all high-quality. Read carefully though, some are great for both internal and external use, while others are intended for external application only.
A 100% pure calcium bentonite clay, Aztec Secret’s Indian Clay is sourced from Death Valley, California, where it is sun-dried for upto six months, and processed carefully to avoid any reactions. It gives you a radiant skin through deep pore cleaning and is especially great for those with sensitive skin since it contains absolutely no additives, fragrances and is 100% organic and vegan.
This is a pure, 100% natural sodium bentonite clay, which is great for a variety of uses, from hair and face masks, detoxing baths to even homemade toothpaste, soap and deodorant. It is a particularly effective on oily, acne prone skin, and it comes with a neat little recipe booklet that teaches you how to mix your own bentonite clay remedies at home.
This jar of food-grade bentonite clay is extracted from a subterranean source, which keeps it away from environmental pollutants and toxins. It is a great choice for both internal and external uses, so this is definitely one brand to pick, whether you’re looking to mix a clay mask, or use it as an oral rinse. The best part about this brand, it that it is an absolutely value-for-money choice – one jar lasts up to 70 face masks, providing nearly 140 ounces of detoxing volume when mixed with water.
This should absolutely be your brand of choice if you intend to consume bentonite clay on a regular basis and are looking for ways to add it to your diet. Available as an extra fine powder with no fillers, binders, additives or preservatives, this clay is completely safe for oral consumption for both, adults and kids. Its food grade quality makes it perfect to be blended with your morning smoothie, packing in even more nutrients that will leave you feeling energized and fresh all day!
So that’s pretty much all you need to know about this almost magical ingredient. With your new jar of bentonite clay powder, you’re all set to give yourself some DIY pampering and gentle detoxing which will leave your skin radiant and glowing, not to mention all the money you will save from expensive beauty and wellness therapies at the salon and spa. The best part? You’ll cut back on your use of chemical additives and switch to a natural, more organic way of looking after yourself, one that has been around longer than any commercial beauty product. You sure have a lot to thank nature for and what better way than to go gentle on it?