We’re going to nerd out a bit here – but when an article features our two loves 1) cool rocks and 2) beer (party time, excellent)… we’re IN. Said article from our favorite informants on the natural world, Geology.com, discusses the use of diatomite – a sedimentary rock “mainly composed of the siliceous skeletal remains of diatoms” – in filtering beer. Sounds just a tad gross, but also so cool – right?
Diatomite is the perfect natural filter (pour-over coffee, you’re next!) due to its highly porous composition and very fine particle size. When crushed, diatomite is referred to as “diatomaceous earth, or D.E.” (for insiders). It is in this form that breweries across the U.S. use D.E. to filter out any by-product of the brewing process that we don’t want floating in our pint glass. This process is also used at drinking water treatment plants, in swimming pools and by wineries, chemical plants, and factories where juices and syrups are made. Who knew!
So, diatomite is the rock made from skeletons of diatoms, but what’s a DIATOM? From Geology.com, “Diatoms are members of a large, diverse group of algae that drift freely in the waters of oceans and lakes. A few types of diatoms live on the bottom of these water bodies and in soils. Most diatoms are microscopic, but a few species are up to two millimeters in length. As a group, diatoms are unique because they are single-celled organisms that produce an external cell wall composed of silica, called a frustule. These frustules are very thin and have a delicate structure.
Nearly all diatoms are photosynthetic and live in water less than about thirty feet deep where sunlight can penetrate. Diatoms are prolific and responsible for producing nearly half of the organic mass in the world’s oceans. Their abundance and small size places them at the base of the marine food chain.”
We warned you – totally nerding out. Hope you were too!
(all info and images from http://geology.com/rocks/diatomite.shtml)