TOXICS INFORMATION PROJECT (TIP)

P.O. Box 40441, Providence, RI 02940

Tel. 401-351-9193, E-Mail: TIP@toxicsinfo.org

Website:  www.toxicsinfo.org

(Sharing Information on Toxics in Everyday Life

& Providing Healthier Alternatives)

 

 

Zeolite: Nature's Deodorizer

 

by Carl Tagliavia

 

Once again nature shows us she can do it better, and in reusable fashion!  Finally a natural bonafide solution to pet and household odors, toxic gases and musty basements.  Unlike conventional deodorizers that merely mask odors and are not even meant to address toxic gases, this nature's product literally removes them from the air.  For many years this alternative has been mineralogically known as zeolite.

 

What Is It?

 

Zeolite is a naturally occurring crystallized volcanic mineral.  In fact there are at least 50 different types existing in nature (in rock form), though the type which is recognized as superior is known as the clinoptiolite group.  What makes zeolite unusual is that it is the only known negatively charged mineral in an original state, which means it naturally absorbs pollutants from the air.  This is because the vast majority of molecules known to exist have some degree of polarity.  In other words, they have both a positive and negative side. 

 

It is the positive side of the polarized molecules that is attracted to the negative charge of the zeolite crystals.  When the positive side of the polarized molecules makes contact with the negative charged surface of the crystal, the molecule becomes attached to the crystal.  Molecules smaller than four angstroms enter inside the crystal, taking advantage of the enormous surface area.  This process is technically called "adsorption", not absorption with a "b".  The process of adsorption refers to the locking onto or retention of ions or molecules of a gas or liquid on the surface of a different substance.

 

But the most remarkable property of zeolite is that, in rock form, it is reusable indefinitely!  It is available to the public in 1 and 2 pound breather bags that can adsorb odors and gases for up to 3 months, depending on the situation.  After that time the bags are brought outdoors to be desorbed.  This is achieved by the action of direct sunlight on the bags.  The gases and odors held in check within the rocks are now released, leaving the bags of zeolite fresh and clean, ready to use again and again.  Neat trick, eh?

 

It has been more than 50 years since chemists discovered that zeolite minerals had unique properties, a discovery that prompted Union Carbide to develop expensive synthetic substitutes, which they later realized were inferior to the natural version. Today, synthetics are used primarily in fluidized catalytic processes to convert crude oil into refined hydrocarbon products such as gasoline, kerosene, etc.

 

According to a report in "New Scientist" magazine, natural zeolite minerals "...consist of a tetrahedral network of oxygen and silicon atoms where aluminum replaces some of the silicon to form an alumino-silicate".  The result is an extended honeycomb of channels and cavities where the aluminum atoms have fewer electrons than silicon available for bonding with the oxygen atoms, thereby causing an unbalanced electrical charge.  This gives zeolite its negative charge.  Because these channels provide up to several hundred square meters of surface area on which chemical reactions can take place, zeolite can adsorb huge amounts of materials, ions, or gas molecules (up to 30% of their dry weight).

 

Many Uses

 

Zeolite can adsorb toxins such as bacterial odors, formaldehyde, sulfur dioxide etc., as well as toxins like mercury, lead and radioactive gases.  This is why zeolite was used to clean up the nuclear accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. It is also a good drying agent, actually working better than traditional desiccates such as silica and alumina gels.  In Europe, natural zeolitic rock finds its way into building stone as an ingredient in cement or as lightweight insulation, while in Japan, it is used as filler by paper makers.

 

Over the last few years, zeolite has been proven to be a boon to chemically sensitive people. Many publications in this country and around the world have written highly of this wonderful mineral.  Also of notable mention, are the many pet lovers who have now found comfort in being able to deal with their pet odors without the use of nasty chemicals.  Manufacturers also offer zeolite in a non-reusable powder form.  It has been said that when it comes to a deodorizing dry pet bath, nothing beats zeolite powder.  A friend of mine adds two or three tablespoons to his cat's litter box once a week and virtually eliminates the offending odor.  Hopefully, many people will one day discard their hurtful chemical products and utilize this special mineral called zeolite.

 

About The Author:  For further information, contact David Andrews

at Dasun Company 800-433-8929

12/05 Note: A friend has been using "Lava Rocks", a similar if not identical product which she found at a national hardware store chain.

 

For more TIPs on healthier alternatives to toxic products, contact Toxics Information Project (TIP), Tel. 401-351-9193 or E-Mail:  TIP@toxicsinfo.org, Website:  www.toxicsinfo.org

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