An Acid is a chemical compound with a pH of less than 7, whereas a base is an "alkaline” (synonym = "basic") compound with a pH > 7. Acids and bases contain ions of individual elements with positive or negative charges. When an acid reacts with a base a new substance is formed, alternatively called a salt or a mineral. Because of the strong connotation of "salt" in its narrow sense as a particular flavoring we put on our food, most non-chemists use the term "mineral" instead (when referring to the new structures created by such interactions).
An element is one or more unique atoms of the identical atomic weight and number, or their isotopes, as distinguished from all others on the periodic table. Elements have a neutral charge, and may appear as either a liquid, solid or gas and some may assume two, or all three states depending on environmental temperature and / or other factors.
Ions are elements that have given up or gained one or more electrons from (an)other atom(s). Those giving up electrons assume a positive charge and are henceforth called "cat-ions" while those gaining electrons assume a negative charge and are termed "an-ions". Along with the exchange of electrons, bonds are formed. Therefore ions are the building blocks of mineral formation amongst different elements.
A mineral (Chemistry definition) may be a single element with low reactivity such as gold, silver, platinum, copper or their alloys, or a combination of at least two more highly reactive elements creating a chemical compound (a "salt"). [This is the usual meaning employed by this website in its discussion of trace minerals.] Minerals (Geology definition) are normally crystalline, inorganic and naturally-occurring, formed as a result of geological processes and with a definite chemical composition and physical properties. H2O is a mineral because it is a molecule of two distinct elements, Hydrogen and Oxygen that are gases, but when they combine they may remain as either a gas (i.e., water vapor), or change shape to that of a liquid (water), or become a solid (ice) in which from they finally assume a crystalline structure. Solids (Nutritional definition) that are neither animal nor vegetable (animal and vegetable matter is organic) may also be considered to be minerals in a broad sense. [Sometimes the nutritional concept is employed in explanations presented in this website, consistent with the context and common usage of the word.]
Organic means something made up substantially of Carbon atoms such as any, once-living organism.
A rock is a conglomeration of minerals with a degree of hardness, and may contain organic material. Coal, for example, may be classified as a rock since, besides its predominantly organic state (mostly carbon), minerals as aforedescribed may be present. But coal itself, is not a true mineral in the geologic sense.
Salts for the most part, also may be considered to be true minerals. Any chemical compound formed by the union of different ions is a "salt" (in the generic sense). For example, Sodium Chloride (NaCl) can be recreated using chemistry, but is also found in nature as a rather abundant mineral called "Halite" by geologists. English-speakers have given this mineral the common name of "table salt".
Silicic acid is a general name for a family of chemical compounds of Silicon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen, with the general formula
Silicate means a type of salt (mineral) derived from the action of silicic acid). Smectite (see Further Explanation, below)
In terms of chemistry, clay minerals are hydrous aluminum phyllosilicates1, sometimes with variable amounts of Iron, Magnesium, alkali metals, alkaline earths and other cations2. In Geology fine-grained sediments with particle sizes of less than 0.0039 mm in size may be classified as clays.
The healing properties of clays have been known to mankind since ancient Egyptian times. For centuries cultures as diverse as the Chinese, Essenes and various Native American tribes ranging from North to South America, have embraced the medicinal and nutritional uses of mineral clays.
Geologists classically divide clays into seven groupings:
All clays will adsorb3; however, the Smectite Group is the only clay of interest for our purposes here, i.e because it is uniquely capable of absorption . Unlike the other clay groupings, only Smectite is effective at absorbing toxins. Its peculiar structure and advantages, therefore, sets it apart from all other clays. Smectite is also characterized by its expandable properties. For this reason also, Smectite has become a favorite clay for agricultural and nutritional use. These reasons, inter alia, are why most clays sold in the health food industry belong to the Smectite grouping.
Within the Smectite grouping are several subdivisions2, including:
Without question, the most popular of the lot is Montmorillonite. This clay material is a very soft phyllosilicate1 that typically forms in microscopic crystals, producing a 2:1 clay, meaning that it has 2 tetrahedral sheets sandwiching a central octahedral sheet.
Between 1847 and 1898 Montmorillonite also gradually became known as a subfamily of clays while maintaining its status simultaneously as a unique, individual clay itself. This kind of resulting confusion (akin to "salt" as a general term for mineral, and "table salt" as a particular variety) spawned the term "Montmorillonoid" which to many is still a better classification for the Smectite5 clays, but Smectite seems to have ultimately won out in the literature.
Bentonite is a name given by W.C. Knight in 1898 to a somewhat different clay that was originally found near Fort Benton, in eastern Wyoming. Before 1898, Bentonite was sometimes called Taylorite--named after William Taylor, who is the first noted to have begun to draw attention to the clay deposits in the USA.
Alas, Bentonite [(Na.Ca)0.33(Al,Mg)2Si4O10(OH).nH2O], defined as a naturally-occurring, hydrated aluminum silicate, has had many other synonyms over the intervening decades including Fuller's Earth, hectorite, hormite clay bentonite magma, saponite, southern bentonite, tixoton, volclay, volclay bentonite BC, wilkinite, Wyoming Sodium Bentonite, Calcium Montmorillonite [montmorillonite (Ca)], Sodium Montmorillonite [montmorillonite (Na)]and just plain Montmorillonite6.
However, nowadays, Montmorillonite in its simplest form (alternatively written as Al2O3 4SiO2 H2O)6 is commonly held to be a distinct and separate clay albeit, it is widely accepted to constitute one of the major components of Bentonite7. The truth is that nearly all clays mentioned so far, often contain at least small amounts of each other. Thus, it would seem to be a matter of degree when a distinct name becomes acceptable because the ratio of ingredients has swung far enough in one direction to warrant it.
Building upon the foregoing explanation it would also seem that by adding a substantial amount of either Sodium (Na) or Calcium (Ca) to "pure" Montmorillonite, along with significant amounts of Iron ions and traces of the minerals such as feldspar, quartz, calcite, and gypsum, we can convert Montmorillonite to Bentonite proper. Bentonite minerals containing up to 50% moisture are observed to occur as seams or lenses. They are rocklike in nature and are usually extracted by quarrying or strip mining. One of Bentonite's characteristic features is its high swelling ability, high liquid ability and high thermal durability, particularly in so-called Sodium-Bentonite8. These abilities make it particularly well adapted for making crayons, lubricating grease, oil well drilling muds, plaster, paints, shoe polish, and other such diverse and peculiar purposes including as an ingredient in cat litter, cement tiles, concrete, copy paper, dynamite, matches, sheetrock and other forms of insulation. Calcium-Bentonite, characterized by much lower swelling (followed by simple Montmorillonite) was well-known prior to the turn of the previous century for its bleaching and cleaning agents.
It is Montmorillonite, however, that is known as the "living clay" because it contains a bouquet of essential minerals in trace amounts that may enhance the production of enzymes in most living organisms. Montmorillonite is often the preferred choice (over Bentonite, Diatomite, Zeolite, etc.) to use for soil amendment, and as added nutrition for plants, animals and humans, especially when ingested. Hence, it is an "edible clay". In agriculture it that can be used over an extremely wide area for remineralizing the soil. As an absorbant taken internally, it has even a more dramatic effect. According Robert T. Marin, a mineralogist from MIT9 "Just one gram of this (ultra-)fine clay has a surface area of 800 square meters". That is a strip of turf the length of a soccer field and over 26 feet wide! What this means is that the greater the potential surface area of the clay, the greater its power to absorb and remove positively charged toxins and impurities in the body.
M. T. Dikkers PhD indicated that he first became acquainted with the now Window Peak Trace Minerals deposit when he was a professor of Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry at Loyola University 1931. After testing many other deposits from around the world during the intervening years he stated in a 1980 Technical Report that "The most outstanding form of Montmorillonite . . . is the brown source from Panaca, Nevada (emphasis added). All other deposits of which I am aware were formed by volcanic action", which means that most of the ingredients present are in their elemental state, and therefore, not very assimilable by animals and humans. "In order for minerals to be more readily metabolized, they must first be chelated."
Generally speaking, companies that boast about their products being ionic, organic or colloidal may be providing you with only half the story, or even some misinformation. What you want is a product that contains all three, and is chelated to boot. Even ionic colloids which are microscopic can still carry a positive charge into the small intestine, and not be properly absorbed. Likewise, chelated material that comes in large molecules or particles, may not pass through the intestinal wall, even though it bounces into it several times on its way down the pipe.
|Nature of supplement||Absorption rate|
|Ionic material, positively charged||0-3%|
|Inorganic (metallic), neutral charge||3-5%|
|Chelated minerals, negative charge,|
small to medium particles
|Chelated minerals, colloidal particle size||98%|
There are literally hundreds of websites, reports, companies, and experts extolling the virtues of Montmorillonite. Separate brochures about the deposit exploited by Window Peak Trace Minerals containing testimonials and reports, and analyses discussing careful tests, are available on request for every segment of the wellness industry.
The foregoing terms and explanations become extremely important in the context of human, animal and plant nutrition. All chemical processes and associated terms including, but not limited to, absorption, dehydration, digestion, metabolism, osmosis, photosynthesis, toxicity, may be affected for the good with the conscientious application of Montmorillonite from the Window Peak Trace Minerals deposit. In the corresponding, appropriate dosages, our mineral conglomerate has been demonstrated to foster alternatively, both remedial, and proactive results.
1 Greek [phyllo] meaning "leaf" + [silicate] meaning "form of silicon" ( i.e., a silicon ion that has combined with an ion of another element forming a salt or mineral), together, phyllosilicate implies a layered structure.
3 [Latin, ad - to + sorption] the attachment of one substance to the surface of another; such as the gathering of a gas, liquid, or dissolved substance onto the surface of another substance or its interface zone. In other words, the adhesion of the molecules of any of the foregoing to a solid surface, resulting in relatively high concentration of those particular molecules at the place of contact. One example would be the plating by an anti-wear additive onto metal surfaces.
4 In terms of Chemistry, absorption means a process in which atoms, molecules, or ions enter or permeate some foreign matter and are assimilated by it, harmoniously. A more general term is sorption which covers adsorption, absorption, and ion exchange.
5 Typical Smectite geological formula = [1/2Ca,Na)0.7(Al,Mg,Fe)4(Si,Al)8O20(OH)47nH2O]
8 Sodium-bentonite is not a mineral name, but a trade name for a commercially sold swelling clay
9 1996 article on clay by Lei