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Clay Comparisons

July 18, 2017 10 min read

What are the differences between Zeolite, Bentonite, Montmorillonite, Illite, French Green, Pascalite, Redmond, Terramin, Living, Fuller's Earth, Pyrophyllite, Ormalite, Vitallite, AquiTerra, and Rectorite Clays?

Almost all natural clays have value in promoting human health. Some may be consumed, others are best used only externally, and some are best reserved for industrial purposes. 

Clays in general, provide a wide array of benefits for humanity, whether for the body, in the garden, or for industrial use.

Each of the edible clays will possess different mineral profiles and electromagnetic properties, and will therefore affect the body somewhat differently. NASA discovered that clay countered the loss of calcium in the bones (common during space flight) better than calcium supplements due to the additional minerals and other properties natural to a clay that improved calcium assimilation.

[Ubick, Suzanne. "Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud". Magazine of the California Academy of Sciences. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 2012.]

Detoxification, mineral nourishment and the natural promotion of the body's own healing processes are common to most clays, though one specific clay may excel in a unique area of application more so than other clays.

So what are the benefits of the most popular edible clays available today, and which ones stand out when it comes to promoting human health?

Common and Not So Common Clays

According to Galleries/The Clay Mineral Group, Wikipedia and common geological knowledge:

Bentonite is the most abundant of all clays. The term "bentonite" is a catch-all for numerous variations of smectite absorbent (swelling) clays derived from weathered volcanic ash. A Bentonite often contains a high percentage of Montmorillonite, Illite or Kaolin clays. For the most part Bentonites are classified as Sodium Bentonites, Potassium Bentonites or Calcium Bentonites. The one common characteristic of a Bentonite is that they absorb moisture more so than other clays.

Calcium Bentonite has a dominant quantity of calcium in its mix of minerals. When the Bentonite has weathered to a microscopic size of 1 micron or less it is referred to as a Montmorillonite.  PascaliteTerramin, Living Clay and Fuller's Earth are Calcium Bentonites or Calcium Montmorillonites.

Sodium Bentonite is the most swelling of the bentonites. It absorbs moisture and swells. For this reason, it makes an excellent lining for a pond to help prevent loss of water, but it is generally not a good idea to put a Sodium Bentonite down the drain after a bath, since it may clog the drain.

Bentonites in general, are also hard on the bowels when taken internally, causing constipation, therefore herbal laxatives and bulking agents are recommended when using a Sodium Bentonite for internal detoxification. I find this characteristic counterproductive to the goal of internal cleansing, yet Sodium Bentonite is surprisingly often used for this purpose in the health industry. Redmond Clay and most of the clays sold by LL Magnetic Clay are Sodium Bentonites.

I prefer a slightly laxative clay with a small particle size for maximum detoxification.

Potassium Bentonite is referred to as a "potash bentonite". It contains a high percentage of Illite Clay. Since it absorbs less moisture than other bentonites, it is commonly used in brick making. It is also used for radioactive waste containment.

Illite is a member of the Clay-Mica Group of clays referred to as Muscovite (mica) and is a main component of shale. It is naturally abundant in potassium and does not swell with moisture. It is also commonly found as a component in other clays such as Bentonite & Montmorillonite, adding a potassium twist to those clays. French Green Clay is an Illite Clay.

Zeolite is technically not a true clay due to the structure of Zeolite being composed of porous channels rather than the sheet layering typical of a true clay. Although scientifically, clay is defined by particle size, selecting either 2 or 4 microns (depending on the discipline) and smaller to define whether a mineral source is clay or silt (silt is the next category larger in particle size). 

Zeolite is formed when rolling lava encounters a body of water (such as a lake or the ocean), or when volcanic rocks and ash layers react with alkaline groundwater. Zeolite forms as a volcanic rock which is then milled into a fine powder. It is built of numerous porous channels of irregular shapes which act as a filtering sieve, or container, for heavy metals and toxins. The porous channels attract other minerals or environmental contaminants which must first be purged from the Zeolite before human use. Zeolite is commonly provided as both a liquid and a powder. 

The liquid Zeolite purging process involves several cycles of high heat and rapid cooling, the addition of acids and the addition of a few alkaline minerals (to improve its ionic exchange capability) before it is ready for human use. This purification process produces an average particle size of 1 micron (similar to a montmorillonite).

While this extensive purification process produces a decent detoxifying clay for the bloodstream (but not the bowels where the vast majority of body toxins reside), its altered state is less balanced in its mineral profiles than an unheated clay.

High heat disturbs Nature's original mineral and biological composition, reducing its value as a nutritive clay. In any case, only a minimal amount of nutritive minerals from a Zeolite are available for assimilation by the body, since a Zeolite does not break down easily in the body. Once heated and processed, what might be provided to the body as mineral nutrition will lack the full spectrum of trace mineral balance naturally provided by other clays.

This lack of mineral balance in a purified Zeolite is a less than desirable aspect of the clay since minerals in the body are so strongly dependent upon each other to be effectively utilized by the body. The full spectrum of 70+ minerals are required each time minerals are taken to be sure sufficient mineral balance is maintained.

Given the high prevalence of mineral deficiency in our soils and food supply these days, working with a clay that is both detoxifying and nutritive is an important consideration for the "dirt eaters" of the world.

A 1 micron average size for a processed Zeolite is good for getting into the bloodstream where a good portion of the detoxifying needs to take place, but this can also be accomplished with a Montmorillonite or a Pyrophyllite without altering their original clay structures or mineral profiles.

Sacred Clay is thus far identified to be a naturally occurring blend of Rectorite (layered Illite/Smectite), Montmorillonite, Illite, Pyrophyllite, Chlorite, Jarosite (hydrated iron sulfate), and Geothite composition, (though this will vary somewhat based on the depth of the mine and unique square footage unearthed, given that Nature is not uniform).

Sacred Clay typically possesses component clay minerals of all major classifications of clay – the Smectite Group, the Kaolinite Group, the Illite Group, and the Chlorite Group.

Montmorillonite and Pyrophyllite belong to the Smectite Group, although Pyrophyllite is at times given its own clay category (Pyrophyllite/Talc) due to its simplistic structure, one that is the basis of all Smectite clays.

Sacred Clay makes one of the most powerful detoxifying clays known, partly due to its balanced mineral profile and partly due to its exceptionally small particle size going down to less than .2 micron. The smaller the particle size, the greater the surface area for the removal of toxins. Taken as a bulk clay internally, one gets the benefit of both cleansing of the blood and detoxification of the bowels (from where most of the toxins entering the blood are derived).

Sacred Clay, and it agricultural version, Silica Rich, provide other benefits to humanity as well in areas of:

  • remineralizing farm & garden soil
  • detoxifying chemicals, radiation, and heavy metals from our waterways, land, and oceans
  • additives in pottery & building materials

Sacred Clay was formed differently from the other clays mentioned, in that it began as an underground boiling lava soup that decomposed into a clay through an interaction with deep underground aquifer water, steam and pressure.

It is believed that the manner in which a Sacred Clay is made is the reason it possesses stronger detoxifying powers relative to other clays (one former auto mechanic found a 1/8th inch oil slick on the bottom of his first Sacred Clay bath).

Sacred Clay's rich electrolyte content (8 electrolytes comprising close to 10% of the clay) provides an abundance of free ions acting as antioxidants. Ions are required for rapid transport of toxins out of the cell and efficient transport of nutrients into the cell.

Because Sacred Clay easily breaks down in water, it can easily go down your drains after a relaxing clay bath without worry. (I have washed as much as 50 lbs of Sacred Clay down the tub drain without a hitch.) It will also help your city sewer and improve biological activity in a septic system.

For most people Sacred Clay is safe to use internally and actually slightly accelerates the bowels. See Sacred Clay Instructions for Use for exceptions, or if you are on pharmaceutical drugs.

Sacred Clay Compared to Zeolite

Zeolite is an excellent clay (I believe Nature has given us a number of great gifts within the clay world), however, Sacred Clay has certain capabilities that exceed those of the Zeolite family.

Sacred Clay is capable of holding toxins to the outside of its molecular structure like iron filings to a magnet (adsorbing), as well as absorb them like a sponge. Sacred Clay's negative electro-magnetic charge coupled with its abundant electrolyte content reaches deep into the tissues, organs and bloodstream to draw toxins to itself.

Zeolite is an adsorbing-only clay capable of attracting a large amount of toxins to itself due to the large available surface area within the micro sieve chamber structure of the Zeolite. However, the toxin must be small enough to enter into the chamber structure of Zeolite (less than 2 nanometers) to be carried away in abundance. Larger toxin molecules will cling to the exterior of the chamber, yet are less likely to be removed in cases of toxin saturation due to this limitation. 

Liquid Zeolite does very little to remove toxins in the most toxic organ of our body, the small intestines, where toxin saturation happens the most rapidly. The few drops of liquid Zeolite recommended will absorb directly into the bloodstream and do little to address the intestinal toxicity common to most people today. To remove toxins from the intestines of any significant measure a bulk sediment clay must be consumed. A common recommendation for a clay powder is 1 tablespoonful per day. 

Sacred Clay is both an adsorbing and an absorbing clay with a donut shaped combination of tetrahedral molecules mimicking the shape of a red blood cell. The geometric shape of a red blood cell constitutes the most efficient shape known for the absorption or disbursement of nutrients.

Even a powdered Zeolite must be heated to purge it of its accumulated load of environmental toxins. Heating a clay destroys both the clay's natural biological benefits (soil based organisms) and its delicate balance of mineral ratios. While this may be necessary with a Zeolite in order to make room for an additional amount of toxins, Sacred Clay does not require this purging process to be effective.

Zeolite does not offer many minerals to the body, as the micro sieve structure does not easily break down into individual minerals to help the body perform its thousands of chemical/hormonal functions. Sacred Clay readily breaks down into its individual mineral components, thereby providing the body with a storehouse of mineral options to choose from in order to build its needed supply of chemicals and hormones.

A Side Note on Heating a Clay

Heating a clay to the melting point of the various metals disturbs the clay's original integrity. Heat is sometimes used to melt away certain "undesirable" elements within a clay, under the mistaken impression that this action will "purify" the clay. Instead, what you are left with is an unnatural assembly of mineral ratios (something Nature did not design), resulting in an end product that, when consumed, requires your own body to compensate for what is now missing in the altered clay. This compensation effect is due to the body's ongoing attempt to create and maintain homeostasis, or balance.

Disturbing Nature's original balance of mineral ratios, or taking just one mineral at the exclusion of the full, natural complex of 70+ minerals with their naturally-formed mineral ratios, can result in greater imbalances within the body with long-term consequences. A major New Zealand study found that taking the single mineral, calcium citrate, for several years raises the risk of heart attacks by 40%. [Am J Med 2002; 112:343 Ian R Reid, MDa. et al]. Minerals need each other in naturally-occurring ratios to provide the most effective service to the body.

Comprehensive Nutritional Content and Bioavailability

Sacred Clay is naturally more abundant in both electrolytes and trace minerals than a processed Zeolite, so it provides greater nutritional value to the human body. Unaltered Sacred Clay has a more balancing effect on the body from a nutritional point of view.

Sacred Clay clay is high in silica, which forms orthosilicic acids when brought in contact with water and digestive microbes. Silicic acids are required to make minerals bioavailable to both plant and human. Silicic acids act as ligand escorts for minerals and other nutrients attempting to enter the cell walls. Without a ligand escort, like humic acid, citric acid, or silicic acid (among a few alkaline ligands), neither minerals nor phytonutrients (plant-based) are able to pass through the cell wall.

Taking Clay with Natural Vitamins and Food Sources 

Taking Sacred Clay with natural remedies will actually enhance their mineral and nutrient absorption due to the presence of silica in the clay. While natural supplements are not recommended in combination with a Bentonite clay (being a swelling clay) due to a concern over drawing beneficial nutrients from the body, Sacred Clay helps make other nutrients more bioavailable.

The orthosilicic acids formed out of the silica are also used by the body to build collagen and slow the aging process.

Regeneration of Body Tissues

Bioavailable silica is required by the body to repair damaged tissues, bone, tendons and cartilage.

Sacred Clay clay's observed skin regenerative powers when applied to a cut, a bruise, an inflammation, or a cold sore is truly remarkable. In two instances I observed open wounds on the face being closed and regenerated in less than two weeks without even a scar. Scarless wound repair is best accomplished with the immediate application of clay to the wound, as scars are the direct result of a lack of silica in the body for collagen development during the early stages of wound healing.


Ormalite is an angstrom mineral clay, (anecdotally) rich in naturally occurring M-state elements (single atom elements largely from the platinum group). Even amounts less than a pinch have noticeable effects on calming and centering the mind, increasing the meridian flow (chi) around the body and leaving one more in the heart. Due to its activation of the pineal gland (which produces melatonin), sleep is improved when taken before bed, stress during the day is lessened, and a sense of overall well being is increased.

Observations of Sacred Clay and Ormalite

From an observable point of view, we have frequently seen and experienced the reduction of inflammation and swelling following the application of Manna Mist (concentrated Ormalite water) spray and/or a Sacred Clay poultice, along with a more rapid regeneration of tissue. This indicates that the current research being performed on Sacred Clay and Ormalite may well document some very promising findings.


Vitallite is a naturally occurring earthen clay which nourishes adrenal and endocrine functions in such a way as to increase physical vitality, mental focus, and physical stamina. Its main benefit comes from its ability to provide an immediate "second wind" to those undergoing intense workouts. 

Vitallite Clay supplies the body with both macro minerals and trace minerals and has the natural soothing effects of an ormus (angstrom element) clay similar to Ormalite Clay, only not as concentrated.


AquiTerra is a kaolinite-dominated mixture of Kaolin, Illite, and Rectorite with a minor angstrom element component. It possesses excellent skin toning properties. Given its Kaolin content being predominant (about 65%) it can be used to slow the bowels at times of excess. 

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To grasp some of the implications of what a powerful nourishing, detoxifying, health building clay can do for the human body, and how to use it, the following article offers insight into the possibilities: Sacred Clay Instructions for Use.

Is it possible Mother Nature has provided an answer to many of our conditions all along in the form of natural clays, and we are just now discovering them? 

Michael King
Michael King

Michael King is a Life Enrichment Consultant, a natural intuitive, a researcher of Nature's most powerful healing resources the world over, the author of "Detoxify, Nourish & Build – Three Essentials for Vibrant Health", the Vital Health News Updates – a periodic newsletter documenting the most life-building natural resources on the planet, and the co-author of Life Chats with Oversoul – an ongoing dialogue designed to gain clarity and direction while navigating the immense changes going into the New Era. Michael is also an advocate of sustainable gardening, environmental responsibility, and an architect of ways to increase global food production.

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