Healing Clays of the World ~ Illite, Bentonite, Montmorillonite - Eytons' Earth


Bentonite: Public Research Project

Bentonite & Montmorillonite: Smectite Clay Minerals


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Featured: Did You Know...?


Clay Eating Peruvian Macaws / Parrots

"All sorts of macaws converge at a small area on the main claylick outside the Tambopata Research Center. The claylick is pretty much a simple cliff face. Somehow all of the birds know that if the clay they eat in the morning will dispell the toxins in the poisonous fruit during the day. They only need to eat clay during the times of the year when the non-poisonous fruit is not available. Many species of parrot know to do this. How do they all know? When did they learn? How did they discover this amazing property of the clay and propagate it to the rest of the parrots?"

- Mick @ MickTravels Around the World Travel Guide, Copyright 2005, Reserved

To explore potential answers these excellent questions, consider reading our new document: Living Clay

Read more about indigenous habits and instinctual use of edible clay minerals in our bentonite articles section.

Quick Links to Articles in this Section

|| What is Bentonite? || Bentonite Clay Mineral Formation & Evolution ||
|| Hydrated Sodium Bentonite Studies - Edible Clay || Bentonite & Food Poisoning ||
|| Pascalite Article - White Calcium Bentonite || Clay Use by Primitives & Indigenous Cultures ||
|| Trace Minerals and Clay || Living Clay: Bentonite ||

What is Bentonite? And Montmorillonite?

Bentonite Hills - Click for larger view
Bentonite Hills - Click for larger view

Bentonite Hills in Capitol Reef National Park
Photo used with Permission, copyright Q.-T. Luong

Bentonite Hills - Capitol Reef National Park
Photo used with Permission, copyright Q.-T. Luong

Bentonite Micrograph

Bentonite Micrograph

Green Bentonite - Nebraska


Bentonite is a name given to a particular clay that was originally found in Fort Benton, Eastern Wyoming. The name was given by W.C. Knight in 1898. Previously, it was called Taylorite, which was named after William Taylor, who first began to draw attention to the clay deposits.

Geologists often describe bentonite as a clay mineral containing Montmorillonite, which poses a rather curious problem, as Montmorillonite is a name of a particular clay that was discovered in Montmorillon, France, named by Mauduyt in 1847.

"The name montmorillonite is used currently both as a group name for all clay minerals with an expanding lattice, except vermiculite, and also as specific mineral name. Specifically it indicates a high-aluminia end member of the montmorillonite group with some slight replacement of Al3+ by Mg++ and substantially no replacement of Si4+ by Al3+. MacEwan suggested the term montmorillonoid for the group name to avoid confusion with montmorillonite as a specific mineral name, and Correns suggested Montmorin as the group name. Neither of these names has found favor. The name smectite suggested as a group name by the Clay Minerals Group of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain at the outset met strong opposition, particulary by many American mineralogists, but it is becoming widely accepted"

(R. E. Grim: Clay Mineralogy 2nd edition, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York (1968) 41).

Bentonite Chemical Equation: Al2O34SiO2H2O ( Reade Advanced Materials )
Montmorillonite Chemical Equation: Na0.2Ca0.1Al2Si4O10(OH)2(H2O)10

"Sodium bentonite is the name for the ore whose major constituent is the clay mineral, sodium montmorillonite. Montmorillonites are three-layer minerals consisting of two tetrahedral layers sandwiched around a central octahedral layer (Figure 1). Oxide anions at the apices of the tetrahedral subunits are directed inward where they surround interior aluminum, iron and magnesium cations, thereby forming the octahedral subunits of the octahedral layer. Bonding, between the shared interior oxide anions and the cations in both the tetrahedral and the octahedral layers, links the layers together and yields the unique sheet structure characteristic of clay minerals. For montmorillonite, the total negative charge contributed to the structure by the sum of all the oxide anions (O=) is somewhat in excess of the total positive charge contributed by the sum of all the structural cations (Si+4, Al+3, Fe+2, Fe+3, Mg+2) and imparts a slight overall negative charge to the surfaces of the clay sheets. This slight excess negative charge on the sheets is counterbalanced by free-moving (exchangeable) cations which exist between them. These three layers in each sheet comprise individual bentonite platelets which are typically 1 nm in thickness and 0,2-2 microns in diameter. Dry platelets of sodium bentonite are most commonly grouped together in a face-to-face arrangement, with exchangeable cations and small amounts of adsorbed wares in an interlayer region between each platelet. The thickness of the interlayer region is variable depending on the amount of water adsorbed between the platelets."

If the terms bentonite and montmorillonite had both been coined late in the 20th Century, then it's possible that one would be saying that " Sodium montmorillonite is the name for the ore whose major constituent is the clay mineral, sodium bentonite."

To fully illustrate this, consider the following classification made by American Colloid, one of the premiere Bentonite mining organizations in the United States:

Bentonite - HPM20:

"High-purity, air-classified sodium bentonite, selectively-mined, consisting of micronized particles and supplied as a free-flowing powder. This high-purity montmorillonite is typically used where small particle size is required in pesticide and fertilizer applications... A Hydrous aluminum silicate, air purified to concentrate the finest montmorillonite fraction from the bentonite ore. Contains traces of feldspar, quartz, calcite, and gypsum."


We wanted to add the above paragraphs due to the common misconception that, somehow, bentonites and montmorillonites are two different types of mineral classes. In other words, we've talked to people who didn't want bentonite, but instead montmorillonite, and those who have rejected montmorillonite because it wasn't labelled as bentonite.

Bentonites (and montmorillonites) are further classified by their dominant cation (the element in the clay that has the highest potential for ion exchange).

Some sources state that there are only two primary types (sodium and calcium) of bentonite. However, magnesium bentonite (http://www.gsaresources.com/bentonite.htm), calcium magnesium bentonite, and potassium bentonite (http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/LivingWith/VolcanicPast/Places/volcanic_past_indiana.html), while less common, are unique forms of bentonite, just like the calcium and sodium bentonites.


Featured: Did You Know...?

  "Clay is the most versatile, profoundly effective, cheap, mysterious, underrated, covered-up health treatment available.

"I know this because I am a natural health professional who uses clay personally and professionally for healing and health maintenance. I research and read everything I can find on the therapeutic use of clay. I have seen clay perform "miracles." I get very excited about mud. And in case you think I got my diploma out of a Cracker Jackís box, rest assured; I have a bonafide Masters Degree..."

"...Bentonite attracts and neutralizes poisons in the intestinal tract. It can eliminate food allergies, food poisoning, mucus colitis, spastic colitis, viral infections, stomach flu, and parasites (parasites are unable to reproduce in the presence of clay). There is virtually no digestive disease that clay will not treat. It enriches and balances blood. It adsorbs radiation (think cell phones, microwaves, x-rays, TVs and irradiated food, for starters). It has been used for alcoholism, arthritis, cataracts, diabetic neuropathy, pain treatment, open wounds, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, stomach ulcers, animal and poisonous insect bites, acne, anemia, in fact, the list of uses is too long for this article. It was used during the Balkan war of 1910 to reduce mortality from cholera among the soldiers from sixty to three percent."

- Julie Crist, M. Ac., jc@acupla.net
Julie Crist

Read more about bentonite clay minerals in our section dedicated to bentonite articles.


Green healing clay, bentonite, Fuller's Earth, Montmorillonite

See Also:


General Uses of Healing Clay
Introduction to Healing Clays of the World


Eytons' Earth - Clay Chemistry



Comments @ Eytonsearth.org

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Comments (2)

Topic: bentonite-montmorillonite.php
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Mellen (Yarmouth, US) says...
Hi- just confused,

this sentence states:

Bentonites (and montmorillonites) are further classified by their dominant anion (the element in the clay that has the highest potential for ion exchange).

Wouldn't they be classified by the dominant CATION? i.e. sodium (Na+), calcium (Ca+2), etc??

Greetings, Mellen:

Thank you for catching that typo.  You are absolutely correct!  I have made the correction.

Thank you for taking the time to point it out.


18th January 2017 8:15am
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarEmpty Star
Swapnil Thakur (Thane, India) says...
Can you add sources for Sodium bentonite/?
that will be much helpful for those looking to source sodium bentonite.

Thank You

Greetings, Swapnil:

We have a page on recommended sources if you use the top nav menu.  At this time, my favorite sodium bentoonite is a high yield sodium bentonite that complies with USP standards.  It is ultra ventilated and water washed.  You can find it @greenclays.com

29th March 2016 10:21pm
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~ New Articles Section on bentonite and clay minerals - the clay cure ~
|| what is bentonite? || bentonite clay mineral formation & evolution ||
|| hydrated sodium bentonite studies - edible clay || bentonite & food poisoning ||
|| Pascalite article - white calcium bentonite || clay use by primitive & indigenous cultures ||
|| trace minerals and clay || living clay: bentonite || healing clay therapy books ||
Silver, Clay and Ozone Heal a Broken Infected Finger || Stinging Trees of Australia & Healing Clay
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Eytons' Earth, a non-commercial, public awareness organization dedicated to researching the values of healing clays ( bentonite, illite, and montmorillonite ), is based out of Las Vegas Nevada. Feel free to us at any time. While we are not always able to respond, we do our best to answer non-commercial inquiries!

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