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Three therapeutic clays and how to use them
Posted on: June 20, 2016

Color is an easy way of identifying and differentiating clays, but it isn’t the most accurate. Illite, montmorillonite and kaolin can appear in varying colors, but it is the structure of their minerals that makes them effective in differing ways. Color variation is due to varying mineral composition. Green and blue from ferrous and magnesium ions. Yellow from ferric oxides. Yellow kaolin is high in quartz and is used for bone problems and for iron deficiency. Red color comes from ferrous and copper oxides and is used for iron deficiency. White clay is high in aluminum.

Clays are products of weatherization of mineral rocks. There are quite a few clay materials but just three that are used therapeutically. The Illites, smectites and kaoliitnites. Kaolin can be used as a dry powder, but all clays become activated by water. This activation means that water and organic materials are absorbed into the clay and become attached to the surface of the clay (adsorption).

Illite clay is green, and gets its name from the state of Illinois. There are other analogues found elsewhere around the world. Illite is very widely used, has a three layer structure that absorbs a lot of water and adsorbs a lot of materials.  Because this clay has less area between its layers it is best used to absorb water rather than to purify or treat infections. Illite is better used to treat edema and swelling and for drainage.

Montmorillonite and Bentonite clays are smectite clays. Smectites have a high cation exchange rate and can absorb oils. These clays are a three layer structure as well. The layers here are held together with calcium or sodium cations making for a larger space between the layers. These clays are able to capture organic materials and effectively treat infections or to detox. Montmorillonite clay is green and comes from the Montmorillonite region in France. It is structurally very close to Bentonite clay. Bentonite clay is from the US, near Ft.Benton.

Kaolin clay is china pottery clay and gets its name from the Kao-ling region of China. This is a two layer clay and is less aggressive in absorbing. It has a higher aluminum content and is a better choice for wound healing or for treating skin irritations. It is a good mild cleanser but not a good choice when treating infetions This clay is also taken internally to treat diarrhea. Think of kao-tin, k-c, kaopectinolin.

Clay can be used blended in water to make a very thin solution, think 10 parts water and 1 part clay. This can be used as a mouthwash or consumed. You can bathe the whole body or soak hands and feet in a thin clay water solution for aches and pains, inflammation and skin care.

Clay can be made into a paste with an approximate one to one ratio. Put it on thick. A thick layer of clay stays wet longer. The longer it stays wet the longer the clay is active. If you want the clay to reach deep or if there is a lot of swelling you can leave it on for 3 hours. If the clay is thinly applied for a topical treatment it can be left on for as little as 15 minutes. All clay poultices should be applied directly to clean skin. If the skin or broken or there is a wound a layer of gauze can be laid against the skin to make removal easier.