Bentonite Clay 101 + 15 Head-to-Toe Uses

15 head-to-toe uses for Bentonite Clay and a great primer on types, quality, and concerns for the clay

From Lauren: As I’ve mentioned, I’m on vacation right now and I’ve lined up a series of wonderful guest posts from some awesome bloggers. Today, Meagan from Growing Up Herbal is sharing a primer on bentonite clay, as well as a creative list of uses of bentonite clay.

Bentonite clay. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s another one of those “natural remedies” that a lot of people use and have good results with. Althought it’s a very useful tool that’s natural and healthy, not all bentonite clays are created equal, and a lot of people don’t really know what bentonite clay is or even how it works.

Today, I’d like to give you some information on bentonite clay so that you’ll understand what to look for when selecting a good quality clay as well as how it works. Plus, I’m also going to share 15 ways you can use it from head to toe, and hopefully, in the end, you’ll know all about it and be confident in your ability to use it to benefit you and your family’s health!

Understanding Bentonite Clay

What It Is & What It Does

Bentonite clay is a clay that is mined from the earth, and it’s formed after volcanic ash has weathered and aged in the presence of water. It has a strong negative electromagnetic charge, and when activated by water, it acts like a magnet in and on our bodies, pulling metals and toxins to it. It also has an affect on the body’s pH and provides the body with some vital minerals at the same time.

Varieties of Bentonite Clay

This clay comes in different varieties depending upon which elements are most concentrated in it, potassium, sodium, calcium, and aluminum, but the two most commercially available types are sodium bentonite and calcium bentonite. The best thing I’ve read on how these different types of clay come to be is from this Bulk Herb Store article that says,

Bentonite clay is a very unique substance, formed primarily of Montmorillonite, which is an extremely flat crystal flake, that carries a relatively strong negative ionic charge. The negative charge is compensated for by adsorbing a cation (either Sodium or Calcium) to the interior of the molecule, this is what makes it either Sodium Bentonite or Calcium Bentonite clay.

To put it another way think of the Montmorillonite crystal flake resembling two pieces of bread, with a strong vacuum pulling the lunch meat in between them, whatever lands there (Sodium or Calcium) determines what kind of sandwich it will be. Now when you activate this clay sandwich it will magnetically grab the junk in your body (heavy metals, toxins, acid, etc.…) and trade them for the” lunch meat” taking the toxins out in your waste. The two different clays although very similar in their inert state (dry) have very different applications when activated (mixed with water).

So to me this says, if I use sodium bentonite clay, then it will exchange the sodium for the toxins it draws from my body… meaning it gives me it’s sodium and takes my toxins. Same goes for the calcium variety too. Pretty cool huh?

The main differences in these two varieties is that the sodium bentonite is best for detoxing purposes as it has a stronger negative charge which causes it to pull more toxins into it whereas the calcium bentonite clay is better at remineralizing the body with calcium and silica.

Quality of Bentonite Clay

15 head-to-toe uses for Bentonite Clay and a great primer on types, quality, and concerns for the clayWhen looking for a good quality bentonite clay, there are a couple of things to consider.

First, look into the company you’re buying your clay from. Research them and be sure that they’re active in where they source their clay from and test the quality of it. Remember that this clay acts as a magnet and you don’t want it absorbing toxins from nearby sources and then putting it on or in your body. Each of the companies mentioned here are very particular about their products, and I believe have great, healthy forms of bentonite clays available to use.

Next, ask how it’s mined. I never once thought about this until I read about it in the Bulk Herb Store article above, but since bentonite clay acts as a magnet for positively charged toxins (which the majority of toxins are) the equipment that the clay is mined with matters. You’re never supposed to use metal utensils with your bentonite clay because the metals can leach from the utensil and be pulled into the clay. This fills the clay up with those positively charged metals and means your clay will practically be useless by the time you use it since it’s already full of the metals from the utensil you used. The same goes with when it’s being mined. You want fully active clay… not clay that is already half full of metals from the mining process. Stainless steal mining equipment is supposedly a good option and doesn’t cause heavy metal leaching into the clay.

Bentonite Clay Concerns

I can think of a few concerns when it comes to using bentonite clay… at least internally that is.

First… it’s aluminum content. If you look at this bentonite clay profile by Mountain Rose Herbs, you’ll see that their bentonite clay contains 18.1% aluminum… the highest of all the minerals found in the clay. Now I’m sure this varies depending upon who you buy your clay from and where their clay is mined, but this can be really confusing for a lot of people since we all know that aluminum can be dangerous for our health. Thankfully, Redmond Clay addressed this concern of aluminum in bentonite clay stating,

Aluminum occurs naturally in our bodies, and in Redmond Clay. As with everything else we put in our bodies, the source and form of aluminum makes a big difference in how our bodies use it. The molecular structure of bentonite, especially the high negative charge of the aluminum, makes it impossible for the aluminum to leach into our systems. Instead, the aluminum leaves our bodies the old-fashioned way—along with the positively-charged toxins and impurities that the clay has bonded to. At a chemical level, much of clay’s healing benefit depends on aluminum.

Next, using sodium bentonite internally. Since sodium bentonite is the better detoxifying bentonite, your first thought may be to use it if you want to take it internally for a nice detox. Well, that’s true, but remember how it exchanges it’s sodium for your toxins? Well that could cause your body to get too much sodium and that in itself can cause a good amount of problems. Mountain Rose Herbs sells sodium bentonite and they specify that their clay is for external use only, but Bulk Herb Store and Redmond Clay are a combination of both sodium and calcium bentonite clays so that you can take them internally and get the best of both worlds… just as long as you take the right amount and don’t overdo it.

Lastly, constipation. Yes, bentonite clay can be used internally to detox the body as well as help with pH and remineralization, but if you use too much of it, it’s definitely going to cause constipation issues. Think about it. It’s clay. If you mix bentonite clay with a little water, you’re going to get a seriously thick paste. As you continue to add water to it, the clay continues to thin out and disperse in the water. Same goes in your body. If you take bentonite clay in water or in capsules, you have to continue to drink water throughout the day to help the clay stay thin and not “settle” or “compact” in your colon. No. Fun. Man.

15 Bentonite Clay Uses From Head To Toe

Below is a roundup of 15 different ways you can use bentonite clay to help your families health… from head to toe.

  1. Detox Your Hair – Wellness Mama
  2. Homemade Clay Toothpaste – Keeper of the Home
  3. Bentonite Clay Detox Bath – Homegrown & Healthy
  4. Bentonite Clay Rose Water Face Mask - Hug A Tree With Me
  5. Homemade Calamine Lotion – Nourishing Joy
  6. DIY Mascara - Body Unburdened
  7. Homemade Deodorant – Frugally Sustainable
  8. Bentonite Clay Paste - Whey Beyond The Naked Truth
  9. Bentonite Fruit & Veggie Wash – About Clay
  10. Bentonite Clay Poultice For Rashes, Burns, & Bites - Everyday Roots
  11. Bentonite Clay for Eczema – Livestrong on YouTube
  12. Bentonite Clay in Soap – Yahoo
  13. Skin Bleaching (Tattoo Lightener) – Ehow
  14. Heavy Metal Detox - Like A Mustard Seed
  15. Shaving Soap - Blue Aspen Originals

Where You Can Find Bentonite Clay

Mountain Rose Herbs (sodium bentonite, for the strongest detoxing properties)

Redmond Clay (sodium/calcium bentonite mix)

Frontier and Living Clay (both calcium bentonite)

About the Author

meaganMeagan Visser is the owner of Growing Up Herbal on Etsywhere she offers natural, herbal skin care products for children. She also teaches parents how to take charge of their children’s health naturally on her blog,GrowingUpHerbal.com, and she’s enjoys living a simple and healthy life with her husband and 3 little boys in the southern Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee. Connect with her on her on Facebook and Pinterest.

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Comments

  1. Melissa says

    I learned a lot! Thanks! I’m on the no soap, raw honey shampoo, raw honey and oil facial cleansing regimen. I ran 4 miles in complete heat and humidity and felt really clean after my soap-free shower. I’ve learned so much from this blog!

  2. says

    Wow! This is a great article! I have been researching ways to do a heavy metal detox and I kept coming across bentonite clay, but I was really confused about if I can use it internally or externally and which kind was better based on quite a few articles I read. You really made it seem so easy to understand and cleared up all my confusion. Not to mention you helped me think about how it’s mined! Great piece of info! Thank you!

      • says

        Although it is important to know how the clay is mined, it is more important to remember that clay only pulls once it’s hydrated or activated. During the mining process metal equipment can come in contact with the clay, but the clay is in a dry or deactivated state, and is not in prolonged contact with the metal so the fear of it pulling anything is very minimal. When using metal to mix you clay such as with a spoon or a metal bowl, just make sure you don’t leave the clay in contact with the metal for long periods, ie. overnight, because the clay will draw on the metal and cause it to look a little rusty. For quick mixing purposes, metal has very little, if any effect on the clay.

        As for causing contipation, when clay is taken internally, it is usually taken in liquid form. Your body is mostly water. As clay passes through the body, there is no place it can be stored that would allow it to dry up and “settle” and become “compact”. Pour liquid clay in a glass, then pour out the liquid and rub your finger on the inside of the glass. You’ll notice it’s very slick, not sticky. What causes constipation is not the clay but the muccoid plaque it is trying to remove. Because clay is made up of trace minerals that are not bioavailable, the body does not store them and the intestines cannot digest them or break them down any further. They simply pass through the digestive tract grabbing positiviley charged toxins like a magnet. That buildup as it’s being released can cause constipation. But this is a sign the clay is working! But, yes, as with any detox, drinking plenty of water is important to flush out the body. Just like washing a car, it’s a lot easier with plenty of water.

        And as for major differences between Sodium and Calcium, the main thing you’ll notice is the taste. Sodium bentonite has a very salty flavor. Calcium bentonite is oderless and tasteless and most people will find it to be quite palatable. And although it might be true that Sodium has a stronger bond, moleculary, sodium bentonite is triangular shaped. Calcium bentonite is rectangular shaped. Naturally a rectangle has more surface area than a triangle so there is more room to store toxins using the same amount of clay. The idea is to find a clay that is not only safe to consume internally, but works with your specific physiology.

        • says

          That’s very interesting about the mining process Marco. If you don’t mind me asking, how does Living Clay mine their bentonite? I have several friends who use that brand, but I’ve never heard how it’s mined.

          As for the constipation issues, I see what you’re saying about putting bentonite in a glass, pouring it out, and feeling how slippery it is, but a person doesn’t drink bentonite clay and then immediately pass it out. It has to go through the GI tract. Where is the majority of water absorbed in the GI tract? The large intestines. There, water is absorbed from whatever is in the colon in order to form stool. If there are large amounts of bentonite clay there, it could certainly cause constipation. Back to your glass example. Go take some bentonite clay, mix it well with water, and let it set for 24 hours. The clay will settle to the bottom of the glass. Now pour out the water and what do you have left. Clay… “settled” at the bottom of the glass. Seems to me it’s important to eat lots of fiber and drink lots of water when taking bentonite clay to avoid that. Of course that’s just my opinion though.

  3. Paula says

    Great info! I just that I would share with you another source of clay, and that is Dynamite Products. I’ve found them to be the most integritable of companies. They have products from animal feeds & supplements, home, garden, and of course superior human supplements.

  4. Cait says

    This was a really nice overview! I use it in toothpaste already, but am curious what other applications would be safe during pregnancy, because of the detoxifying effects. So many things can be detoxifying, at least in large quantities (probably even some herbs in my pregnancy tea), and it’s hard to know what’s a safe level and what’s not for right now.

    • says

      I would guess that it would be okay to use in topical applications like face masks, but I would be on the safe side and wouldn’t use it internally.

      • says

        Clay is not a drug and although it can be found in the supplement section of your local health food store, it does very little mineral supplementation. It is true that there is some cation exchange at the molecular level, but not enough to give it any nutritional value. The FDA categorizes bentonite as GRAS (generally regarded as safe) and not as a source of nutrition. A clay labeld safe for internal consumption is absolutely safe for pregnant women, and many woman find that it’s great for not only cleansing the body to allow for the creation of life, but also great at neautralizing acid reflux discomfort experienced while pregnant.

        • says

          I’ll have to politely disagree with you here Marco. I feel that just because the FDA has labeled something as “safe” doesn’t mean it’s safe for pregnant women. And, because of bentonite clay’s powerful ability to detox the body from metals, I’d definitely caution a pregnant woman from that during the time you’re body is forming a baby.

  5. Agw says

    We use bentonite clay for mosquito and other bug bites- I usually mix up a jar at the beginning of the summer (glass or plastic only- no metal) and we use it on any kind of bug bite and poison ivy. We call it magic mud= within 30 seconds of the application the itch is gone, never to return

    • says

      That’s actually the first brand I ever bought Kay. I only used it externally though… I’m not sure what it says about internal use. You could probably look the company up online or call them and see what mineral their clay is high in. If it’s a mix and it’s been carefully mined and stored, it’s probably okay for internal use. I’d check it out though. Hope that helps!

      • says

        Aztec claims on their label that it is for EXTERNAL USE only. It is a very low quality bentontite clay that has been on the market for a while. They are more than likely not a source manufacturer and purchase their clay from an industrial mining company. This explains the low quality of clay for human use. It is not mined for that purpose, but just put in a jar and labeled as a bentonite product. But cleary, they admit, they do not test their clay for safe use internally or at all which explains their “external use only” label. In other words, use at your own risk.

  6. Justyna says

    I just started using it last week to make a face mask (I’m just learning about birth control and what it does to your body – I was on Mirena for six months and had the worst skin of my life; now that I understand that it is sign that something else isn’t right, I got rid of the Mirena and am now detoxing). I had been wondering how else to use the bentonite clay and didn’t really feel like taking the time to research it. I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and feel that you do your research and I can trust what you write. You’ve saved me a boatload of time here. Thank you!!!

  7. Shebb says

    What a great article! I really appreciate your blog, Lauren, and a great guest post, Meagan!
    I am a huge bentonite clay fan and will never be without it in the cupboard. My most recent use was while my four young daughters had the chicken pox earlier this month. I made up a bentonite paste with water and dabbed it on their sores to help dry them out quicker. Worked a treat (accompanied by baking soda baths)!

  8. says

    Do you have any idea what proportion of sodium clay and calcium clay the mixtures (Redmond and Bulk Herb) have or what a safe mixture is? I bought some Bentonite from Mountain Rose Herbs not knowing the difference in types and was making a homemade toothpaste from it, but if it is the sodium kind, I don’t want to keep using it in case my toddler swallows it.

    Wondering if I bought some calcium kind and mixed them if it would be better…but how much of each? Maybe just use the calcium kind in the toothpaste…

  9. says

    How about zeolite? Do you know anything about it? I am using that for heavy metal detox. They used to bake it in cookies and give it to the Chernobel kids to help them detox after the disaster.

    • says

      I use zeolite and diatomaceous earth together and mix with water and then drink. It tastes WAY better than Bentonite clay. I use bentonite clay for my toothpaste and baths, but internally it is hard to swallow that slimy stuff. I like the chalky powder.

      I also prefer french green clay, and sometimes will use that in my mixture that I drink. The zeolite pulls out heavy metals, the diatomaceous earth gives me tons of minerals and kills any parasites in my body, and the french green clay also pulls out toxins, but it also has been proven to pull out radiation as well. (It was french green clay that was used after Chernobyl)

      http://www.rense.com/general93/rads.htm

      http://www.naturalhealthway.com/articles/french-green-clay.html

      I have a craving, actually, for the taste of the chalky clay (not bentonite clay). I gag when try to drink bentonite clay water, but I am ok with using it as a toothpaste and have been making my own earth paste for a long time.

      I think that craving is called something like Pica… not positive on that but as long as it is good for me, why not.

      Every 3-4 months I do the drink mix 2x a day for 2 weeks (I live in a 3rd world country and parasites are probably more abundant here). I also give my pets the diatomaceous earth during this time.

      Then, in between, I use that mixture maybe 2-3 times per week.

      I have issues detoxing toxins from my body, thanks to thyroid disease and gene mutations. So I also use my detox foot pads (http://www.purifyyourbody.com) and I can tell you how my life has changed since being able to detox.

      I also use a far infrared sauna, until I moved here to Panama… now I walk along the beach in the water barefoot, to get the negative ions and to experience the effects of earthing.

  10. Kimberly Owens says

    I’ve got some bentonite clay and I want to take some internally to detox. What time of day do you think would be best to do this – morning or night?

    • says

      Hummm, I’ve never thought about that, but I’d guess morning would be best because I’d think your body would be slowing down at night whereas during the day it’s working harder. Plus, when you use bentonite for internal detoxing you want to be sure you’re drinking a good amount of water during the day with it. So yeah, I’d go with morning.

    • Mary says

      Kimberly Owens,

      You should drink the clay on an empty stomach which can be in the morning or a couple hours after dinner before bed. Just remember to drink a good amount of water!

  11. Lisa Waltz says

    HI…
    Just found your website. I am on a healthy journey for my family…looking at eating right and clean and leaving out the toxins/chemicals from everything around us. I am VERY interested in the bentonite clay use in DEODORANT, but the website is not working. Do you have the recipe? Which clay from where is BEST for the deodorant?

    Thanks!
    Lisa

  12. Heather says

    That’s so ironic! Just beginning to explore natural health and beauty options, and guess what? My hubby works at a bentonite plant. Their main buyer uses it in cat litter. I had NO idea!!

  13. says

    Thanks for your useful share! It is amazing that we can make use of this natural resource to do such a thing as beautifying our body! It was the first time I learn about this and I feel really excited. I will apply this right away to see desirable results. Such wonderful masks! Thanks for sharing!

  14. lily longflower says

    you made some good points and one omission that needs to be voiced. (i came to herbalism via horticulture/soil science so understand well the chemistry of clay) clay does indeed have a strong negative charge…which means positively charged molecules like calcium, potassium, magnesium etc are attracted and strongly bound to the clay….when the clay leaves the body so do the minerals. long term use of clay can lead to nutrient deficiency.

    the clay does not easily release a +2 charged calcium molecule which means clay is not a good reliable source of minerals for the body. the minerals are there, but unavailable due to tight chemical bonds.

  15. Rachael says

    I keep reading about bentonite clay trying to inform myself and talk myself into trying it. Just seems scary! I think I will just stay with diatomaceous earth. It has worked wonders on my arthritis and it also is a great colon cleanse without the scary blockage problems you can have! DEfoodgrade.com is where I get mine. Can’t beat the free shipping and knowledgeable staff. May e one day I will get the courage to try the clay!

  16. says

    Great list! Would like to recommend adding Terramin and TerraSilk to your list as high quality Calcium Montmorillonite clay sources. Find on Amazon. Also http://www.IONChargedMinerals.com

    Products certified for internal use with highest USP rating and also for skin, pain, and animals.

    Believe this is the most healing source ever found. Take internally every day. Clean my skin, heal my boo boos, and brush my teeth with it.

    Thanks for advocating for using minerals for healing.

  17. MS says

    Great info here. Any thoughts on kidney issues when taking bentonite clay? I’ve taken it for four day and can feel my kidneys working. Assume it’s part of detox, but always good to listen to the body. Thx!

  18. Lark says

    My whole family LOVES Earthpaste! My daughters love the lemon flavor best. :)
    I am also wondering if you have researched or tried using Diatomaceious Earth {DE}? I have read it can help reduce candida/yeast overgrowth since it is negatively charged {like bentonite clay} and binds to bacteria/toxins etc. to flush them out. Plus since it is an excellent source of silica {and other other trace minerals} it is great for skin, hair, and nails. It does not dissolve in water/liquids though so it must be stirred well and taken before it sinks to the bottom. And it is also important to source it properly from a trustworthy company so you know what you are getting. Anyway… would love your thoughts on this, particularly for internal use. Thanks!

    • says

      Diatomaceous earth is said to have antifungal properties so it could help with candida. I’ve not researched that specifically so I can’t really speak on it. I’d definitely research that a bit more before you count on it helping.

  19. says

    Thanks for this great article. Big believer on Have been shopping in health food stores for over 35 years and tried lots of things with daughter working at spa that has a “Club Mud” even, but nothing ever compared to TerraSilk (for skin) or Terramin (for internal detox). Find on Amazon. These Ionic Minerals are 15 million years old and come from millions of years of the Colorado River taking parts of the mountains along it’s 1,500 mile length and then was cooked by underground geo thermal activity. Highest purity with 57 minerals, many have never been in most people’s body. Believe in power of synergy as well where more powerful together than alone or in mega doses. Mineral key to health and this is the most way to give them for regenerating and rebuilding higher quality new cells. Detox with negative ionic charged minerals that bonds to harmful positively charged toxins, chemicals, and heavy metals. Will rebuild you because what is the foundation of our body made of, and what is not in soil and food anymore because so depleted? Minerals! Not all created equally so be careful, especially with calcium. Don’t need multiple bottles when have one perfect source like Terramin.

  20. Anne says

    I started using it four days ago, I initially brought to use as shampoo. I used as a face mask that night and woke up with no wrinkles,,!!!!!! And then I made a paste for my teeth and in five minutes they were white, I couldn’t stop looking in the mirror. I am for ever trying new things for my skin, but nothing has comE near this. Amazing, it’s nz clay.. From new Zealand. It’s quite pricey but worth it

  21. Maxi says

    Hi!
    I would love to buy some clay but do you know any good company that sells quality calcium bentonite clay in europe? to ship from america to germany is not only very expensive but takes long.
    thanks!
    maxi

    • Kimberly says

      Redmond Clay is available in Europe from a distributor called PH Wisdom. Their website is http://www.phwisdom.com. They are an excellent source. Redmond Clay is nearly equal in both sodium and calcium content and is safe and wonderful for both internal and external use.

    • Rana Shahbaz khan says

      dear i need your help, i hv mines of bentonite clay ( as test reporte it has, bleach and plastic limit roundabout 30% each; your help require to identify market where to cell it as raw materials. if u hv any idea please share it.
      regards,

    • Rana Shahbaz khan says

      dear i need your help, i hv mines of bentonite clay ( as test reporte it has, bleach and plastic limit roundabout 30% each; your help require to identify market where to sell it as raw materials. if u hv any idea please share it.
      regards,

  22. Veerle Deschuytter says

    Hi… Since one week I drink bentonite clay for a detox. I feel very tired and hope this goes away soon…:-) How long should I drink it? Can I contiune drinking it daily?

    Thanks!
    Veerle

    • says

      It could be a detox reaction Veerle. Maybe try reducing your dose in half for a bit and then slowly increase it back to where it’s at now and see if that helps. If not, it could be your bodies way of telling you it’s not for you right now. Hope that helps some!

  23. Jan Dell says

    Questions: I’v been reading about a research firm in Germany that processed and used a Bentonite Clay from northern Germany they used to successfully treated and I gather reversed Kidney Disease. So far all I’ve been able to find is the news release from the Co. in Jan. 2014. Do you know where I can get hold of the Bentonite Clay they used and do you know where I find find the prototypical they used? thanks for any assistance Jan

  24. Yolanda says

    I was wondering if my husband can use this clay to control his diabetes yall said and I read it takes out toxins but is it good for diabetics please help thanks

  25. Sophia says

    Hi, I love your blog! Great post, too! I was wondering if it’s okay to mix up clay and distilled water in a jar(I hate having to mix it up every time) for face masks or does it still grow too much bacteria? Also, do you have any tips on how to make the clay mask less clumpy? Thanks so much! Xxx

  26. Nadia says

    I read somewhere that you can use it on your face as a mask for two weeks straight then revert back to using it twice a week. Do you know if this is true or if this is okay for your face? because I also heard it can dry at your skin. so far I have done it every day for a little over a week and it has dried a bit and I’ve notice a bit more acne…

  27. says

    Bentonites are characterized by the content of montmorillonite within it. Basically, if it is an impure clay with 50% or more Montmorillonite in it, it’s Bentonite. Bentonites are from several mines throughout the world which have varied characteristics in color and texture.

    Quality calcium bentonites are often found at higher elevations. They are used as facial masks, poultices and health remedies. They do not swell like the lower quality bentonites which have accumulated sodium as they have washed to lower elevations. They are used in industries for drilling, bleaching and even cat litter.

    The highest quality clays are no longer even referred to as bentonite as they were from deposits that have not washed to lower elevations at all and are pure montmorillonites that have not attached ionically to what the rains have taken them through.

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