Smectite is characterized by its
expandable properties. Unlike the other clays, only smectite can
absorb toxins. This qualifies its structural uniqueness and sets it
apart from all other clays. For this reason, smectite has become a
favorite clay for industrial and dietary use.
The most familiar species of smectite is montmorillonite. Again, it is
the most preferred species of edible clay. Most clay research has
been done with montmorillonite.
What makes montmorillonite so special?
The montmorillonite minerals occur in very small micron sized particles.
They are extremely fine-grained and thin-layered, more than any of
the other clay minerals. The layers contain ions that are very
loosely bound to one another and easily exchangeable. Not only will
the toxins stick to its outside surface, but numerous elements and
organic matter will enter the space between the layers.
In addition to its already unique structure, montmorillonite has a
particularly large surface area when properly hydrated in water,
which further boosts its adsorptive and absorptive properties.
Chemically and structurally, it is shaped like a credit card, with
negative charges on the flat surface and positive charges on the
edges. Therefore, the negative charge (the good one) is many times
more powerful that the positive charge. Montmorillonite is a more
complicated clay and has a higher exchange capacity than the simpler
species of clay, such as kaolinite. Its ability to adsorb and absorb
toxins is greater than that of the clays in the other groups.
to one article on clay (Lei 1996), a mineralogist at Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, Robert T. Marin, stated that one gram of
this clay has a surface area of 800 square meters. To give that some
serious perspective, that's about ten football fields! The greater
the surface area of the clay, the greater the power to pick up the
positively charged particles or toxins many times its own weight.
given clay is usually a mixture of clay minerals, one or two minerals
almost always being predominant. Clays are rarely found separately
and are usually mixed not only with other clays but with microscopic
crystals of quartz, mica, feldspar, and carbonates. Most clay
contains montmorillonite to a greater or lesser degree. The available
types of montmorillonite vary in color, consistency, and shape. The
color may be white, gray, or tan, with tints of yellow or green.
Typically, montmorillonite will be included in a mixture of clay
groups in any given material; all six groups will most likely contain
particles of montmorillonite. Sources of montmorillonite include the
United States, Italy, China and France”.
Montmorillonite - what is is?
Montmorillonite is a very soft phyllosilicate
mineral that typically forms in microscopic crystals,
forming a clay.
Montmorillonite, a member of the smectite family, is a 2:1 clay,
meaning that it has 2 tetrahedral sheets sandwiching a central
octahedral sheet. The particles are plate-shaped with an average
diameter of approximately 1 micrometre. The particle thickness is
extremely small (~ 1 nm).
is the main constituent of the volcanic
content is variable and it increases greatly in volume when it
absorbs water. Chemically it is hydrated sodium calcium aluminium
magnesium silicate hydroxide (Na,Ca)x(Al,Mg)2(Si4O10)(OH)2·nH2O.
Potassium, iron, and other cations are common substitutes, the exact
ratio of cations varies with source.
It is used in the oil drilling industry as a component of drilling
mud, making the water slurry viscous
which helps in keeping the drill head cool and removing drill debris.
It is also used as a soil
additive to hold soil water in drought prone soils, to the
construction of earthen dams and levees
and to prevent the leakage of fluids. It is also used as a component
of foundry sand
and as a desiccant
to remove moisture
from air and gases.
Similar to other clays, montmorillonite swells with the addition
of water. However, some montmorillonites expand considerably more
than other clays due to water penetrating the interlayer molecular
spaces and concomitant adsorption. The amount of expansion is due
largely to the type of exchangeable cation contained in the sample.
The presence of sodium as the predominant exchangeable cation can
result in the clay swelling to several times its original volume.
Hence, sodium montmorillonite has come to be used as the major
constituent in non-explosive agents for splitting rock in natural
stone quarries in order to limit the amount of waste, or for the
demolition of concrete structures where the use of explosive charges
Montmorillonite has been used in cosmetics
and has reputed therapeutic effects. Indeed over 200 cultures have
used the clay for medicinal purposes including the Ancient
Egyptians, the Essenes
and the pre-Aztec
and other natives of Mexico,
Montmorillonite is also used in animal feeds as an anti-caking
agent. Current research indicates that montmorillonite or bentonite
has the ability to bind
the digestive system of animals as well as several bacteria
Montmorillonite was discovered in 1847 in Montmorillon
in the Vienne
prefecture of France,
but is found in many locations world wide and known by other names.
Other modern discoveries include about 1830 by the French-Canadian
fur trapper Emile
Pascal atop the 8600 feet high Big
Horn Mountains in Wyoming,
USA and as bentonite
in about 1890 and named by an American geologist for the one time
(on the Fort
Benton Formation geological stratum)
in the eastern Wyoming Rock
Creek area. Native
Americans have referred to the therapeutic clay as Ee-Wah-Kee.
& Image Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montmorillonite
And here is what website
says about montmorillonite:
"The Mineral MONTMORILLONITE
Montmorillonite is a member of the general mineral group the clays.
It typically forms microscopic or at least very small platy micaceous
The water content is variable, and in fact when water is absorbed by
the crystals they tend to swell to several times their original volume.
This makes montmorillonite a useful mineral for several purposes.
It is the main constituent in a volcanic ash called bentonite, which is
used in drilling muds.
The bentonite gives the water greater viscosity("thickness" of flow),
which is very important in keeping a drill head cool during drilling
and facilitating removal of rock and dirt from within a drill hole.
Another important use of montmorillonite is as an additive to soils and
The effect of the montmorillonite is to slow the progress of water
through the soil or rocks.
This is important to farmers with extended dry periods, engineers of
earthen dams or levees or perhaps to plug up old drill holes to prevent
leakage of toxic fluids from bottom levels to higher aquifers used for
As a mineral specimen, montmorillonite does not get much
Usually, pure samples of montmorillonite are massive, dull and not very
attractive. However, as with all minerals, there are those exceptional
specimens that defy the norm.
Montmorillonite has been found as attractive pink inclusions in quartz
crystals, and these make for interesting specimens.
- Color is usually white, gray or pink with tints of yellow
- Luster is dull.
- Transparency crystals are translucent and masses are
- Crystal System is monoclinic; 2/m.
- Crystal Habits: never in large individual crystals,
usually found in compact or lamellar masses.
Also seen as inclusions in quartz as fibers and powder-like masses.
- Cleavage is perfect in one direction, basal; not seen in
- Fracture is uneven to lamellar.
- Hardness is 1- 2 (can sometimes leave marks on paper)
- Specific Gravity is variable from 2.3 - 3 (average)
- Streak is white.
- Other Characteristics: crystals expand to many times their
original volume when added to water.
- Associated Minerals include other clays,
- Notable Occurances: include sources in France, Italy, USA
and many other locallities world wide.
- Best Field Indicators softness, color, soapy feel, luster
and expandability when added to water".
Cambrian Montmorillonite Clay
clay - member of the Smectite Group - is considered to be the most
potent of all medicinal clays - more so than the French Green
Montmorillonite clay. Montmorillonite clays are being mined in
various parts of the world. Like with all minerals, the quality and
composition of the deposit will vary greatly. Blue clay contains a
number of minerals in their natural colloidal form which are used by
the body to produce enzymes and as for many other bodily functions.
Blue clay is a rich source of trace minerals, with the highest
ability ot adsorb/absorb, so it is one of the most popular bulking
agents in the beauty industry.
Being most potent, it has the most
powerful detoxifying properties of all clays. Blue and Red
Montmorillonite clays have similar properties and benefits. It is
very effective at drawing oils and toxins from the skin and is best
suited for oily skin and hair. It is also excellent for dealing with
acne. It is not advisable for use by people with sensitive or dry
skin, since it has a very drying effect. Blue clay can also be used
in soaps and in body and foot powders as a natural color additive.
Externally, blue clay is used in the making of masks, body wraps,
baths, compresses, poultices, creams, lotions, etc.
Red Montmorillonite is a close relative of Blue Montmorillonite
and is highly efficient at drawing oils and toxins from the skin. For
external use: this montmorillonite clay is good for use on the skin,
over the site of sore muscles, sprains, and aches.
In the cosmetic idustry,
it used in soaps and in body/foot powders as a natural color
additive. Because of its drying effect, it is not recommended for use
on the skin more than once a week or by the people with sensitive/dry
skins. This is also a very polular clay in natural medicine for its
detoxifying qualities. It is good for baths, compresses, face masks,
body wraps, as a natural colouring agent, etc.
Clay owes its name to a place called Fort Benton in the USA where it
was first found. It was formed by the alteration of volcanic glass to
clay minerals which are less than .005mm in size. It consists of
hydrous aluminum silicates plus iron oxide and magnesium oxide, with
either sodium or calcium oxides. It can absorb 40 - 50 times its
weight and swell to form gel-like masses.
This clay is often
used for drawing poulices and for treating sprains, bruises, insect
bites, rashes, in perspiration absorbing foot powders, and in
exfoliating and detoxifying face masks, as well as in body wraps.
Most types of clay are drying because of their absorbent qualities so
are recommended for normal to oily skin only.
bentonite type clay is non swelling and is also called Fuller's
earth. It is widely used in cosmetics for face masks for
oily/blemished skin for its drying effect.
Bentonite clay is a combination of
montmorillonite and volcanic ash. It is a highly absorbent clay that
pulls oils and toxins from the skin and is one of the best clays for
making clay poultices. It is best suited for oily skin. Bentonite is
also a good clay for use as an oily hair and scalp treatment.
Medicinally, it is one of the most
effective natural intestinal detoxifying natural substances
available, and therefore it is one of the most popular clays for this
Montmorillonite (Fullers Earth)
Montmorillonite or Fullers Earth, is a natural, mineral clay type
substance with the property of absorbing basic colors and removing
them from oils. It is composed mainly of aluminium, silica, iron
oxides, lime, magnesium, and water, in extremely variable
proportions, and is generally classified as a sedimentary clay. In
color it may be whitish, buff, brown, green, olive, or blue. Fullers
earth was originally used in the fulling of wool to remove oil and
grease but is now used in refining edible oils. It is also a useful
base ingredient for facial clay recipes and adds a nice finishing
touch to clay products promising to aid its user with their battle
against oily skin. Add a tablespoon of fullers earth to your
favourite cold process soap recipe for a bar of soap that eliminates
hard to remove dirt and grease.
Glacier clay is a rare type of clay and is found in
British Columbia. It contains over 30 minerals and trace elements
particle size less than .15 microns in size, making it the finest
glacial marine clay yet discovered in the world. It has a natural pH
balance of 6.5 to 7.3. It is easy to apply and remove. It stimulates
the circulation, detoxifies, exfoliates dead skin cells while and
smothes down wrinkles, leaving the skin soft, smooth and invigorated.
It produces erythema (local skin warmin),
accelerates physiological processes and increases cell regeneration
in surrounding tissues, improving skin elasticity and overall
complexion. It is an excellent choice for ageing skin due to its soft
but stimulating and rejuvenating effect.
Clays - Illite and Montmorillonite - What is the Difference?
Green Clays consist of volcanic ashes which are
found near ancient volcanoes, 20-50 meters below the ground surface.
Therefore, they contain only natural material treated mechanically,
without any chemical additives.
two types of Green clay used - Montmorillonite and Illite.
I have come across many sites selling French Green Clay as such, without specifying whether it is a montmorillonite or an illite. I think that since these two clays have certain differences in their
chemical makeup and structure, they need to be described separately, although their therapeutic properties are similar.
Green clays consist of curative volcanic ashes which are found near ancient volcanoes, 20-50 meters below the ground surface. It contains only natural material treated mechanically, without any chemical additives.
They are rich in magnesium and trace elements, as well as organic plant matter which alongside iron oxide determines its soft green colour (illite has a lighter hue of green than montmorillonite). They detoxify, restore mineral balance and act as an absorbents. There are two types of Green clay used in natural medicine - Montmorillonite and Illite.
Montmorillonite is part of the smectite group of clays and is named after a French region Montmorillon where it was first discovered, and Illite, named after the state Illinois, USA, where it was first found in 1937. Both clays take
equally important places in the restoration and maintenance of health. However, as mentioned earlier, there are certain differences:
Following information has been offered to me by the manufacturer.
Illite is found in certain regions in the North of France and in the Atlantic basin. Montmorillonite is found mainly in the South of France.
Illite is is a non-swelling highly absorbent clay (30% - it absorbs 30% of water), and has a relatively low remineralisation power (12%). It is used in cases where detoxification and decongestion is important. Illite contains less magnesium than Montmorillonite.
The active minerals in illite include calcium, silicium, several important mineral oxides, magnesium, potassium, dolomite, silicium, manganese, phosporous, copper, and selenium, as well a relatively small percentage of montmorillonite.
Montmorillonite of the South of France enjoys the sun 260 days per year. It lies in the Mediterranean basin and is rich in magnesium. Its sorptive properties are less than those of the Illite (it absorbs 20% of water), but its remineralisation properties are very high -
Cationic (ionic) exchange rate, alongside their sorptive properties, is one of the most important factors of clays. In fact, each type of clay exchanges mineral elements with the environment they are in and has a certian coefficient of absorption which varies from one clay to another.
Montmorillonite has 60-70 Meq/g catioinic exchange rate, while Ilite
has around 12 Meq/g.
Both Illte and Montmorillonite clays absorb water. However, the Montmorillonite clay is called 'the swelling' type, while illite clays are called 'non-swelling'. I have been wondering - why? They both absorb water, so both should be referred to as 'swelling' clays. I have asked the manufacturer to explain the difference.
The reply I received was something I could not find anywhere. Apparently, the illite clays have a highly poprous crystal structure, so the water gets inside the crystals, which makes the clays so absorbent. With montmorillonites, on the other hand, the water gets between the flat layers in the clay particles, which causes the
layers to move apart, causing the 'swelling' effect. Both the Green Montmorillonite and the Green Illite can absorb a large amount of water. For the other Illite clays and the Kaolinite the absorption rate is lower.
French Green Montmorillonite Clay
French Green (Montmorillonite) Clay is one of the most popular and useful clays used
in cosmetics purposes. It contains a variety of minerals and salts including
calcium, potassium, dolomite, magnesium, silica, manganese,
phosphorous, silicon, copper, and selenium. These elements are
essential in producing body enzymes which enhance the production of
enzymes in all living organisms. Green Clay - grayish green, the
colour is due to the presence of ferrous and magnesium ions. This is
the most widely used of the cosmetic clays, Green
Montmorillonite clay is best clay for oily skin, since it
reduces sebum production, works as a wonderful absorbent and an
choice for face masks, body wraps, compresses, baths, poultices.
Rhassoul clay is part of the smectite,
or swelling, group of clay minerals. It is a rare and luxurious type
of clay. It is mineral rich,
reddish/brown ancient clay which comes from the Atlas
Mountains of Morocco and has been traditionally used in Morocco and
in Egypt as a soap, shampoo and skin conditioner. Rhassoul clay is
truly exquisite and is different from other clays due to its unique
composition, excellent ability to adsorb oils and impurities.
It is very high in trace elements such as silica, magnesium, iron,
calcium, potassium and sodium. Because of the high mineral content,
astringent properties, and absorption properties, Rhassoul clay is a
wonderful and effective clay for cleansing, detoxification, and for
general skin care treatments. It has been shown to improve skin
elasticity, clear clogged pores, remove dead skin, excessive oil from
skin, stimulate circulation, nourish and hydrate the skin. Rhassoul
clay can be used in soap-making, facial masks, body wraps, clay
packs, shampoos, and conditioners. It is used by the best spas around
the world and is highly regarded in the beauty industry.
Suitable for normal and oily skin. Not recommended for dry/sensitive skin.
illite group is named for the state of Illinois. Illite is a
non-expanding mineral. The chemical formula:
Illite is a phyllosilicate
or layered silicate. The best-known species of illite is glauconite,
a green mineral clay. It is typically found in clays of marine
origin. Other colors include white and yellow. Unlike the Smectite
Group, the Illite Group clays do not expand when hydrated.
is a non-expanding, clay-sized,
micaceous mineral. Illite is a phyllosilicate
or layered silicate. Structurally illite is quite similar to
slightly more silicon,
and water and slightly less tetrahedral aluminium
and interlayer potassium.
The chemical formula is given as
but there is considerable ion substitution. It occurs as aggregates
of small monoclinic
grey to white crystals. Due to the small size, positive
identification usually requires x-ray
diffraction analysis. Illite occurs as an alteration product of
muscovite and feldspar
environments. It is common is sediments, soils, and argillaceous
rocks as well as in some low grade metamorphic
in sediments can be differentiated by x-ray analysis.
Illite was first described for occurrences in the Maquoketa shale
County, Illinois, USA, in 1937. The name was derived from its
type location in Illinois. Illite is also called hydromica or
hydromuscovite. Brammallite is a sodium rich analogue”.
and image reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illite
French Green Illite Clay
The most well known of the illite
group is Green Illite clay. It is efficient at drawing oils and
toxins from the skin and is also often referred to as French Green
Unlike French Green Montmorillonite, French Green Illite is a non-swelling clay. It is sometimes called 'marine clay' due to the quarries being found in the ancient marine beds.
Green Illite clay is a superb detoxification product. Its detoxifying properties are explained by 2 main factors:
- Its sorptive capacity is very high, so it draws toxins out of the body very effectively.
- Its negative cumulative ionic charge which helps to attract and bind positively charged toxic waste and eliminate it out of the body.
French Green Illite clay is like a sponge, attracting water and toxins not only to its negatively charged surface, but also inside the numerous canals in its crystalline structure.
It is difficult to list all the wonderful benefits of French clays - not only because their properties have not been researched as well as they deserve, but also due to the fact that there is no condition on Earth which cannot be helped with clay in some way.
Both clays have similar properties, with one clay detoxifying the body due to its higher sorption capacity (illite), and the other due to its ability to expand and attract negatively charged ions (montmorillonite, altough illite has this ability too, on a
French Yellow Illite Clay
Yellow Illite clay has a soft yellow colour and velvety texture. It is very similar to Green Illite in its therapeutic and cosmetic properties and uses. Its colour is due to a high level of iron oxide.
Illite is found in certain regions in the North of France and in the Atlantic basin, in the areas abundant in red clays. It is a highly absorbent clay (30% - it absorbs 30% of water), and has a relatively low remineralisation power (8%).
It is used in cases where detoxification and decongestion is important. Illite contains less magnesium than Montmorillonite.
The active minerals in illite include calcium, silicium, several essential mineral oxides, magnesium, potassium, silicium, manganese, phosporous, copper, and selenium, as well a relatively small percentage
of montmorillonite. The cationic/ionic exchange rate for the French Illite sold by NR is 32 meq/100g, which is almost 3 times as high as French Green Illite.
French Red Illite Clay
Red Illite Clay is similar in properties to Green and other Illite clays. Its main property is high sorptive capacity which makes it very useful for removing toxins. The only difference is its colouring which is explained by a higher presence of iron oxide.
Illite is found in certain regions in the North of France (in our case it is Provence) and in the Atlantic basin.
French Red Illite is a non-swelling clay. It has a very rich mineral content. It has a sorption ability of 30% against Maontmorillonite's 20%.
Its sorptive properties give it a very powerful drying and detoxifying effect.
Red Illite is used mainly in the beauty industry and cosmetics production, for its tonifying, humidifying effect on the skin. It revives pale, sallow, ageing skin. It also purifies congested, acne-prone skin types. It improves bolood ciruclation and
makes the skin look radiant, hydrated, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and also broken capillaries. The cationic exchange rate for the French Red Illite Clay offered on this site is 32 meq/100g.
French Pink Illite Clay
French Pink Illite is not a clay naturally mined as such - it is a mix of two French clays - White Kaolin and Red Illite and is mainly used in the beauty and cosmetics
industry thanks to its soft, soothing, tonifying action on the skin. It is suitable for all skin types, but especially for mature skin, prone to wrinkle formation and flushing.
Sensitive, fragile, dehydrated skin types benefit most from the use of French Pink Clay.
If the skin is very sensitive, adding oil would make the clay even more delicate and effective in the above mentioned cases.
The clay is very rich in minerals, so the skin gets remineralised in the process. The cationic exchange rate of the French Pink clay sold by NR is 26 meq/100g.
“The word kaolin is derived from the name of the Chinese
town Kao-Ling (or Gaoling, "high ridge"), located in the
Jiangxi Province of southeast China, where the written description of
porcelain can be found. The word kaolin is now used as a loose
geologic term to refer to white clayey rock that is predominantly
composed of Kaolin Group (khandite) minerals. The most common
constituent is the mineral kaolinite. Kaolinite is a layered silocate
made of alternating sheets of octahedrally coordinated aluminum and
tetrahedrally coordinated silicon that are bonded by hydroxyl groups.
Kaolinite is represented by the chemical formula Al2Si2O5(OH)4, and
it most often occurs as clay-sized, platelike, hexagonally shaped
kaolin adsorbs toxins and bacteria like the other clays, it acts
mainly as a bulking agent and in anti-diarrhoeal medications.
Sometimes kaolin is added to food supplement due to its mineral
The Kaolinite Group
includes clays of various chemical composition and therefore varying
Kaolin Clay - most abundant mineral in the Kaolinite Group - is also
known as China Clay or White Cosmetic Clay. It owes its colour to the
high concentration of aluminium. It is the most used clay in
cosmetics. Due to its natural adsorbent properties, it is an
essential ingredient in the manufacturing of cosmetics - soaps,
scrubs, poultices, body and face powders, and masks. It is the
mildest of all the cosmetic clays and is also used as a fixative in
the perfume industry. Its action on the skin is very gentle, so it
can be used on most sensitive skins. It adsorbs impurities from the
skin without removing any natural oils. It helps stimulate
circulation in the skin while gently exfoliating and cleansing it.
Its adsorption effect is minimal, so it does not draw oils from the
skin and can therefore be used on dry and sensitive skin types.
Pink/Rose Kaolin Clay is a mix of red
and white kaolin clays, so the best properties of both clays can be
experienced at once. It has a mild, soothing, cleansing and
exfoliating action, and can be used on dry to normal skins. It is an
excellent choice for face masks, baths, creams lotions body products.
It is often used as a colourant in cosmetics.
Pink Kaolin Clay
is generally for normal skin although is can be extremely beneficial
for dry and sensitive skin. Pink clay is soothing, cleansing,
hydrating and detoxifying.
Pink kaolin is a gentle clay, making
it suitable for sensitive skin. It helps stimulate circulation to the
skin while gently exfoliating and cleansing it. Pink kaolin clay does
not draw oils from the skin (since kaolin clays do not absorb, only
adsorb), and can therefore be used on dry skin types. It can be used
in body powders to keep skin dry.
Uses: Cosmetic/Medicinal. Suitable for dry, sensitive or normal
Red Kaolin Clay - also known as
Moroccan red clay or Maroc clay - is rich in iron oxide (this gives
it the red colour), it is highly adsorbent and draws oils and toxins
from the skin. This is the clay to use for moist, oily skin types. It
can be used in the treatment of acne, spots, rashes, etc.
Moroccan red clay is extracted from the Atlas Mountains in
Morocco. It is a strong cleansing clay which will draw excess oils
from the skin, stimulate circulation to the skin and act as a
powerful astringent for oily skin and hair. It is very popular in
spas around the world. Good for use in in face masks and body wraps.
Most suitable for normal and oily skin/hair types. Not to be used
for dry/sensitive skin.
Yellow Kaolin Clay is also a relatively
rare type of clay. It is mild and is traditionally used on sensitive
skin types. It stimulates blood circulation while gently exfoliating
and cleansing the skin. It also draws impurities out of the skin.
Being mild by nature, it will not remove natural oils, and can
therefore be used on most skin types. Like all coloured clays, it can
be used as a colourant in cosmetic products.
Suitable for dry, sensitive and normal skin.
Black Clay contains a lot of iron oxide
so it is very popular for use decorative cosmetics. It is
particularly good for nourishing and revitalising the skin due to its
its mineral content. Can be used for most skin types.