Diatomaceous Earth For Long Term Storage Of Wheat & Grain

I will advise how to store diatomaceous earth (see below), and how-to use it to assist long term storage of wheat, grains.

FOOD-GRADE diatomaceous earth (D.E.) can be safely added to long-term storage of grains to protect from insects.

It’s nothing new. Diatomaceous earth has been used by many ancient cultures – mixing into their grain to protect it from insects. It’s still used today in agriculture for grains and animal feed.

You can also use DE to help preserve food storage items such as grains, flour, legumes, rice, corn, and other dry foods.

Not only does DE kill and repel insects, it also absorbs moisture, which helps keep food dry and mold-free.

Another perk of using DE is that it is completely natural, so it helps eliminate the need for artificial preservatives.

~ diatomaceousearth .com

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica. Over a long period of time, diatoms accumulated in the sediment of rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. Today, silica deposits are mined from these areas.

~ National Pesticide Information Center – Oregon State University

Diatomaceous earth is often harvested from areas where large bodies of water once stood and is marketed in two grades – industrial and food grade.

Highly magnified view of diatomaceous earth under bright light
Highly Magnified view of DE

Industrial Grade DE

Industrial Grade diatomaceous earth is used for many purposes including water filtration systems for swimming pools.

Food Grade DE

Food grade natural freshwater diatomaceous earth is perhaps best known for its use as a non-toxic insecticide in agriculture for grain storage. Additional uses include on pets (flea control), general bug/insect control, ingestion for parasite elimination, protect animal feed from infestations, and more.

mined in Nevada:
(view on amzn)

How to store Diatomaceous Earth

I also use this with my chickens. So I always have a few bags of this stuff around. It’s like powder! Therefore, you need to keep it dry. It has an indefinite shelf life. But there are a few ways to make it more convenient to store and use.

Harris DE Spreader with Scoop and Adjustable Top
(view on amzn)

[ Read: Diatomaceous Earth For Chicken Coop Mites And Bugs ]

How much Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) to add in 5-gallon bucket of Grain

Food Grade diatomaceous earth can be used as an organic method to rid wheat / grains of bugs and insects. It is particularly useful for long-term storage of grains, yet it is not harmful to man or animals. It is also inexpensive and easy to use.

1/2 Cup per 5-Gallon Bucket of Grain

How much Diatomaceous earth to add with 5-gallon bucket of grains or other dry foods?

Add 1/2 Cup of DE for every ~25 pounds of dry food / grains. This is very close to the typical weight of a 5-gallon bucket filled with wheat, grain, legumes, rice, etc.. Add in layers. Roll it around to mix well.

How much Diatomaceous earth to add with 1 pound of dry food?

1 teaspoon of DE for every pound of food.

How I Add DE to my 5-Gallon Buckets

The way I do it is while staging one or more 5-gallon buckets for the process of long-term food storage (with Mylar bag inserts, O2 absorbers, etc..),

I will set aside a single bucket for pre-mixing the ingredient (e.g. wheat berries, or rice, etc.) with the diatomaceous earth.

I use a bucket with a Gamma Seal Lid so that I can screw on the lid and roll it around to mix all the DE together without spillage.

First I add a few inches of wheat berries on the bottom. Then sprinkle on some of the diatomaceous earth (from the 1/2 Cup).

Then add another layer of wheat berries, and sprinkle on some more DE. Repeat until using up the 1/2 Cup.

Then roll it around for a minute or so.

[ Read: More about Gamma Seal Lids ]

Pro Tip: It mixes better if you do half the bucket first. Then roll. Then fill the rest. Roll again.

Note: You might consider doing the mixing and pouring outdoors or in a well ventilated area because the dust can be an issue. Avoid getting this in your eyes or breathing it. It’s safe, but it just might irritate during the process. You might consider wearing a carpenters dust mask.

How Diatomaceous Earth Kill Insects

The microscopic sharp edges and points scratch the exoskeleton of insects causing them to dehydrate / dry out and die. The DE powder also absorbs fats (lipids) from the hard exoskeletons of the insects, drying them even further.

DE makes an excellent pesticide, effectively controlling aphids, thrips, mites, snails, and slugs without harming worms or beneficial soil microorganisms.


Do not use Industrial grade diatomaceous earth for food storage because it has larger quantities of a highly crystallized form of silica.

Food grade diatomaceous earth for use in food storage has a crystalline silica content of no more than 1-1.5% and has not been heat treated.

Wear Kitchen Gloves! When handling diatomaceous earth, such as mixing with buckets of grain or in the garden, it’s a good idea to wear a dust mask and gloves (kitchen gloves). Breathing in too much may irritate the mucus membranes in the nose and mouth. Handling it will dry out your skin.

I can attest to using gloves because the first time I used it with my bare hands it did indeed quickly dry out the skin and was like having rubbed my hands and forearms in fine sandpaper… Washing up and a good dousing of hand lotion remedied the situation.

DE for ingestion / health benefits

I have widely read that a typical adult ingestion dosage of food grade diatomaceous earth is 1 teaspoon added with a cup of water / juice. I suggest that you do your due diligence, though it is clear that it’s widely used.

[ Read: The Calories in a 5-gallon bucket of Rice, Beans, and Wheat ]

[ Read: 6 Tips For Bug Free Storage ]


  1. I have had no ants for years due to use of DE one spring. So, I was surprised one morning last week when I found a few coming in on the ceramic, shook a little DE on the floor and ants were gone in minutes.

    It is in a lot of my buckets but not all. I learned about DE after I began storing foods.

  2. Personally I have never used DE.
    I believe my Father did in his Garden for pest control, has anyone else used DE in the Garden? Would like to hear how well it works.
    As to Jay Jay’s comment, I had a few billion (literally BILLIONS) Piss-Ants show up this year, have never had such an invasion. I used the good old Borax Mix to win that war post hast. 1/2 cup Sugar, 1 cup water and 1 Tablespoon of Borax, soak a few cotton balls, place them around and in 3-4 days, say by-by to those little suckers. I have NO problem with Chemical Warfare with Bugs.

    1. NRP
      I do, sprinkle it around here n there, it helps, i use it in chicken coops too, nesting boxes etc. can mix it with water and spray it, getting a suspension is tough if you dont have a self mixing sprayer, but know it reduces crawleys on all sorts of plants, ornamental or veggie. As with anything organic it boils down to frequency of use and hitting targeted pests with more than one active ingredient.
      In the garden boric acid helps too

        1. Tommy boy,
          Thanks for the info. Just ordered one.☺️
          PEACE to all

        1. Mrs. USMCBG.
          Hence I’m very selicitive where I use the mix.
          Piss-Ants just gata go though, sorry.

        2. I mistly usit only on the ground, ants are a problem, but cutworms too

    2. Yes it works on invasive grass hoppers/locust eating in the garden
      mixed results on aphids and worms. aphids are hard to get to up under the leaves even with a dustomaitc hand crank duster.

      Tested on my cats with fleas and I had mixed results. It knocked the fleas down only for a few days.
      Get a 50lbs bag from the feed supply lasts a long time.

      1. Pretty sure you put in on the yard in order to take care of the flea problem, not on the cats themselves.

        1. we use it on our dogs and the kennels as well as the yard for fleas. we also douse the inside cats with it. (fleas hitch rides from outside sometimes) we also feed once a month for 3 days to the dogs, cats and horses. great dewormer for all. and easy on the digestive system for them.

    3. We have been using it on our sweet corn for years now to get ride of the squirrels and raccoons come to eat the sweet corn. We apply it with the duster Tommy that listed.

      1. I like that you use it on your sweet corn to deter rascals. I want to plant a small garden this spring and was worried about not just squirrels and raccoons, but bunnies, deer, and a neighborly ground hog family that lives somewhere near my property.

    4. I used DE in my yard it works great on an ant hill kills the ants within a day

  3. Besides using it in grains or other food, I personally use it on my animails. Dog gets a powdering of it on her fur, where I have rubbed into the skin, it helps with the flea infestation. I have even put it in her food for elimating of parasites internally.

    For the cat I mix about a 1/3 of a pea size of power into butter for getting rid of parasites and notice it also helped with fleas, and ear mites.

    Grains we may wish to use for seeds I use the FOOD grade DE to help with the preservation. No, time has not allow a testing of this method but have a good faith it will work.

  4. never used it in food storage I store my wheat with a good helping of bay leafs this has been 100 percent effective for the the 3 plus years wheat sits in store. wheat is stored in 3 half hundred weight bins when 1 is empty a new half hundred weight is rotated in . one of the few preps that is rotated in my long term storage!

  5. Ken, Nice timing! I am in the middle of putting up some rice (in 5 gal. buckets) that I bought and I have some food grade DE but, was not sure how much to use. Now I do! THANKS Ken!!!

    1. Glad I could offer timely input.

      All of my rice buckets are treated with DE.

  6. – Have DE in utility room, haven’t had bugs get in in a good long while. Anybody use it outside? Keep getting re-infested with both big red ants and piss ants outside under concrete walkway. I was trying to think of a way to get it down into the nest, maybe it would get rid of them for good.
    – Papa S.

    1. Papa Smurf;
      Please follow my comments on Piss-Ants,
      The mix dose exactly that, geys to the “nest”.
      1 part water, 1/2part sugar, 1 BIG tablespoonful of Borax. Disolve, soak a cotton ball in it and drop near the infestation.
      Takes 2-3 days and the ants start to disappear.
      Basically they like the sugar water and carry it back to nest…..

        1. Pamela
          Thought you should know that there are ‘two’ different DE’s. One is used around the home and is not harmful.
          The other one is used in swimming pool filters; it is dangerous to your pets if they eat this material. I used to work in a garden shop that also sold swimming pools, so I know that there are two different materials sold.
          If you purchase said material ‘ask’ which one you are buying. jic

      1. – NRP,
        Thanks! Appreciate the info! Just had never tried the borax mix. Have everything at hand.
        – Papa

  7. I put a thick layer (1/4″) of DE powder on the thresholds leading outside. We have a severe scorpion problem here, and the DE is a great help to getting them dead.

    1. Trace, if you are asking about DE (Diatomaceous Earth) it comes as a fine powder. You then spread a layer of powder on the area with bugs. When you buy it some suppliers include a dispenser. (Not needed but can be a help for first timers.) It needs a dry surface so apply it on a dry day. Hope this answers your question.

  8. Half a cup to a bucket of grain sounds like a lot, I’m wondering if it would damage grain mills. It is quite abrasive after all, but I haven’t been able to find any information on the effect it may have on grinding discs.

    1. You could soak and sprout you grains first….and that would rinse off the DE. Then dehydrate them to grind.

  9. Good info for using food grade DE for storage use.
    I had used DE for our newly planted cherry tree last summer.
    The Japanese beetles were destroying it. I sprayed the tree leaves with water then sprinkled DE on it.
    It survived the beetle infestation, but this years wet spring has taken its toll on it. It may come back……I now see reappearing greenery.🤞

    1. I wish I had known this years ago! I planted and lost several cherry trees …. And those beetles!!! Those stupid “traps” only call them from miles around!!!! 🤦🏼‍♀️

    1. StCisco,
      I don’t do video’s… see if this clarifies enough for you. I wanted a non toxic way to treat my veggies. and protect us from bugs of all kinds.. DE works for ticks, fleas, water bugs,roaches on the yard and house parameter.
      It does not work on fire ants.
      Its pretty simple:
      take a 32 oz spray bottle add 31 oz water..
      … , put in one tablespoon Dawn. put on top and shake well spray down plants from under leaves and top saturate all leaf material.
      …….WHILE still wet use garden duster to coat the plants with Diatomaceous earth.. looks bad,, they look muddy…. but worked.
      Applying after a rain or heavy dew will also work..
      for treating the yard i wet ti with garden hose and spray nozzle. then dusted heavily… again for ticks i treated close to time of the 2 week hatch cycle.for second time.

  10. Question: I heard that if you use the d.e. in the bucket with the grain you don’t need to store it in mylar with O2 tabs. True???

    1. Nancy
      Will depend on what kind of bucket you will be using. Is it a ‘food grade bucket’?
      If it is not would recommend that you place the grain in a Mylar bag(minimum)5mil. Then you can use the “Food Grade” DE, make sure it is food grade, and not for swimming pool filters.

    2. Nancy, I do both. With that said, if choosing one or the other, choose O2 Absorbers.

  11. I followed instructions on a different blog that mentioned adding 1-1/2 cups of DE to a 5-gal bucket of wheat berries… is there a way to save my berries from an overdose of DE before I grind them into flour, or have I ruined them? Is there any way to get rid of the excess DE? Could I sprout and dehydrate the berries before grinding them? Help!!

    1. Maria,
      Food Grade DE is not going to hurt you. I’ve put that much ( ~ 1-1/2 cups) in my buckets in the past – and have since consumed with no issue.

      1/2 cup is “enough” to get the job done per 25 pounds (which is about what fits in a 5 gallon bucket).

      Again, in my estimation, don’t worry about having dumped in a cup and a half…

      Next time just use about half a cup ;)

  12. Maria
    You have not ruined your wheat berries. If you want to place them in a strainer made of screening material to shake off the excess, then grind them will work. The DE will not harm you, it is fine sea shells. I use it in pet food to worm them.

  13. Thank you, Kevin and AC! That makes me feel so much better :) Follow-up question: if I did use 1.5 cups of DE in my 5-gal bucket and I grind that wheat for flour, will there be any noticeable “digestive cleansing” effects on the people who eat the bread from that flour, or is the amount negligible? Or perhaps the heat of baking it will render the DE ineffective? Thanks! Newbie here :)

    1. Maria:
      I personally don’t use DE for storing Wheat Berries.
      I have had excellent success with simply a stick of Wriggles Spearmint Gum or a Bay Leaf.
      Have many many buckets stored for decades of Wheat not a single bug.
      If you suspect bugs or larva when you first buy the Wheat I would suggest freezing it for 2 weeks, allow to defrost completely that store it, the freezing usually will kill the bugs.
      Best of luck…..
      PS I would agree the DE will not effect most people.
      Do as AC suggest, simply sift it on a wire screen and use.

      1. NRP,
        Thank you for your advice. After I freeze my rice n defrost completely, there is still condensation/wet on rice. It’s very humid here. How do I take care of that b4 Mylar bagging n putting into buckets?

        1. Hawaii
          i usually buy the 12-15# bags, the plastic ones, stick whole thing in the freezer, about a week, them pull out and let sit for a week, then into mylar bag in 5 gal bucket, can get 2 of them in there. Also put big desiccant pack and oxy absorber in there.

        2. DE works good with rice too since you rinse the rice anyway, have found not necessary though

    2. Maria
      The DE should be ‘Food Grade’. You can use either method suggest by Ken, NRP or myself where your wheat is concerned for long term storage.
      Personally I put mine in Mylar bags with pleated bottoms with zip lock tops inside of the 2/3 gallon after processing. Processing where I place the wheat inside the bags, use a flat curling iron seal across the top flap leaving enough room to drop an oxygen absorber into the bag. Squeeze the remaining air out, zip it closed then finish sealing the flap then place into the bucket for storage.
      We all have different methods of storage, you will need to find one that works the best for you and where you reside. Give you an idea why we are different in our processing. Ken resides in the frozen north😎😂, NRP resides in the crispy critter south 😂and we reside in the 50/50 zone🤗🤣.

      1. I wish I had known this years ago! I planted and lost several cherry trees …. And those beetles!!! Those stupid “traps” only call them from miles around!!!! 🤦🏼‍♀️

    3. Maria
      Forgot to answer your question on cleansing. Honestly the small amount one would digest could possible remove any unwanted vermin growing inside the intestinal tract.
      Please do not assume my saying so as gospel, as I am not a Doc of medicine. Know that it has been used on cats/dogs for such removal.

      As for side effects it seems to only occur from the wheat a person may consume. They have altered the genetics in some of the wheat grains. Reason we all look for the old wheat varieties. On line should be an issue of Mother Earth(before it went to the dark side)discussing the different types of wheat grains. It would have been published sometime during the 2016-2018 issues I believe.

  14. I added DE to my wheat berries in storage. Now when I grind the berries for bread as normal, the bread does not rise well at all. Does DE affect ability of yeast to work in bread or prevent dough from rising in some way? If so how do I compensate for this?

    1. Denise,
      We haven’t noticed any particular problem, and I do add DE to our wheat berries storage (5 gallon buckets). All of our inventory has it.

      That said, I’ve not compared with and without though, side-by-side with the same bread recipe and yeast, etc…

      Maybe we’ve been missing out on extra rise all this time? ;)

      Anyone else ever notice this with DE added?

  15. I’m single and I buy the small packages of red beans, black beans, black eye peas, and 15 bean soup, is there any way I could just store them in 5 gal bucket and put DE on top of the package? Smaller packages of beans would be easier for me to use at a time. Along with buying them when I have extra cash.

    1. Stinker 2 Fun name :-)

      DE works best mixed into your dried beans for bug control. Sprinkling it on the sealed plastic bags should have no real effect on the any possible bug eggs inside those plastic bags.

      I’ve found some very elderly great value dried bean bags just last month. Elderly as in dusty and the beans needed extra soaking and cooking time in my bean pot BUT they made a nice mess of beans for many meals.

      I cannot remember opening up any dried beans in my years to find anything buggy about them. But maybe I’m lucky?

      So unless your keeping them for well over 2 years I personally would just keep that 5 gallon pail and lid (to keep out pests) full of mixed beans in a cool, dry dark place and Enjoy those beans :-)

  16. NH Michael,
    One more question, then I might leave you alone :)! I have Zulka Morena Pure Cane sugar that is vegan and non GMO. I have a bag that has been setting on a shelf for several months and has not gotten hard. Do you recommend using diatomaceous earth to put in sugar in a food safe bucket???

    I really like DE! I put two teaspoons in a bottle of water and drink it twice a day. Helps with diverticulitis! I also have high cholesterol. Next time I get my cholesterol checked I will let you know if it actually lowers the cholesterol levels. As much as I can I like to avoid supporting the pharmaceutical companies!

    1. Honestly Stinker 2 I cannot see a reason to use DE on a bag of sugar. I am mildly surprised you don’t have clumps of sugar in that several months old bag but maybe you live in a LOW Humidity area?

      Unless ants get into it sugar lasts nearly forever. I have 5 gallon buckets full that I have to chip out some chunks of sugar, warm it in the microwave or low oven and it crumbles easily into granulated “Sugar” we expect.

      In recent history folks used to use a sugar scissors to cut lump sugar and mortar and pestle to crush sugar chunks into more useable grain sizes.

  17. I have organic sugar and it clumps up. I do live in the midwest and summers are humid. Maybe it is the brand of sugar? Who knows? :P Thanks!

  18. I take that back….there was a clump in that bag when I opened it.

  19. I appreciate all the comments here on DE. So, if DE helps with the bugs, how do you get rid of the dead/dried up/etc. bugs out of the wheat berries, beans, etc. so you don’t grind them with the wheat, soak them with the beans, etc.?

    1. LB, for beans any bugs will float off as you wash. Same with rice. the wheat i treated with it, i shook the bucket as i used.has not been an issue. did not get any big pcs..

      1. Thanks. So, with the wheat, you just shake the bucket and they fall further into the bucket? How does one make sure they are grinding no bugs with the wheat berries?

  20. I was I guess using far too much de in my rice and beans.
    Sprinkling it in at a few inches around the edges and center, half full then the top after I put in the o2 packet.
    But it doesn’t actually matter, too much is better than too little while not excessive.
    I think I was putting in around a cup+ just using an old can to scoop and sprinkle.
    In the end it does it’s job and in use it magically goes away.

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