Is It Safe to Eat Clay? (Important Facts)

You might have heard of people eating clay for its health benefits and to remove toxins from the body. However, this topic has brought a lot of controversies, and many health experts advise against it. It is also crucial to know that not all clay is edible, but is it still safe to eat?

Clay, even in its purest form, is not considered safe to eat. Some people ingest edible clay, such as bentonite clay which is different from pottery clay. But ceramic materials, on the other hand, are toxic and should not be inhaled or ingested.

If you are worried about your children eating clay, you might want to make safer, edible clay at home for them to play with. Playdough, for example, is non-toxic and should not be dangerous if ingested in small quantities. But if you take in too much, it may cause digestion problems and other issues. 

No matter what type of clay you are thinking about, it is better to be safe than sorry. So keep reading to find out what happens when you accidentally eat clay, which clay is safe to eat, and how to make edible clay.

What Happens If You Accidentally Eat Clay?

If you have eaten a small amount of clay, it will not harm or kill you. Your body does not absorb clay, so it will most likely pass through and not cause any toxicity, but that does not mean you want to eat it. 

If your child has eaten some playdough, it is best to observe him or her for any strange behavior or reaction. But other than that you can provide food and drinks as normal. However, consider possible allergies to gluten and coloring as some playdough contains these ingredients. 

But, if consumed in large amounts, clay can cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Chunks of clay can also be a choking hazard for children, so it is best to keep that in mind.

What Happens If You Eat Polymer Clay?

Polymer clay is like raw plastic, and it lines the rims of most mugs and cutlery. While it is not fatal if you have accidentally ingested a bit of polymer clay, you do not want to eat a considerable amount or ingest it over a long period. Polymer clay is supposed to be non-toxic and safe for children but, you still want to be careful how much of it your kids put into their mouths.

If you ate a small amount of clay, it should not cause any problems, it should simply pass through. Symptoms from eating clay can include vomiting and constipation, so keep an eye out for that.

What Clay Is Safe to Eat?

Some people eat small amounts of Calcium Bentonite clay to clean the body of toxins such as mercury and lead. You can often buy it in the form of capsules to help boost your immunity. But ensure that you take the recommended dosage and try not to overdo it.

However, no type of clay is safe to eat in large amounts. If you have an urge to eat clay, it might be due to deficiencies, and you should consult a doctor. A lot of people have tried drinking clay to reap the health benefits, but the results are debatable.

Which Is the Best Edible Clay?

The two most popular types of clay that people eat are bentonite and kaolin clay. But you do not want to ingest clay used for skincare or meant for external use only. Keep in mind that most clays at the store are not for internal use; you want to find one that’s food-grade quality.

Also, ingesting clay as a beginner means you should take it slow and take breaks. 

How to Make Edible Clay?

If you want to make a safe, edible clay at home, there are several recipes you can find. Edible at-home clays are much safer for children as well. To make some, all you will need is two cups of salt, ⅔ cup of water, 1 cup cornstarch, and ½ cup cold water.

Stir the salt and water over low heat for about 5 minutes in a saucepan. Remove it from the heat, mix in the cornstarch and cold water until well incorporated. Stir back over heat until it thickens, then allow it to cool and knead into shape. 

By making your clay, you do not have to worry about your kids putting it into their mouths. But again, be mindful of any choking hazards and potential allergies.

Can I Eat Kaolin Clay?

We use kaolin clay or white chalk, in most ceramic manufacturing and as a coating for paper. Moreover, it is a key ingredient in treatments for diarrhea. Kaolin clay is considered edible and food safe, but it is not food.

If you have accidentally ingested kaolin clay, do not worry it shouldn’t cause any problems.

What Are the Benefits of Eating Clay?

Some people believe that eating clay improves the skin and makes it softer. It is also supposed to help with stomach issues and treat health complications by absorbing harmful toxins from the body. However, many people claim that eating clay did not work for them, so do not get your hopes up with this remedy.

What Is Geophagia?

Geophagia or geophagy is the intentional practice of ingesting earth-like substances. It has existed all over the world in different cultures throughout history, and it also correlates with a type of anemia. Geophagia still exists around the world to this day, especially in tropical regions.

Some people group geophagy together with pica, the abnormal desire to eat non-food items. If you think you fall into this category, then be sure to consult your health expert.

History of Clay Consumption

Throughout history, people have associated clay eating with treating cholera and bacterial infections. In the 1800s, people used clay tablets in religious rituals and as a cure for the plague. It is still present in certain cultures, especially in South America, sub-Saharan Africa, Australia, and Indonesia.

But, you should avoid trying to imitate the practice without careful consideration. Most times, people prep this clay for ingestion, so it is not the same as scooping up dirt straight from the ground. Unsafe practices can result in parasites and chronic symptoms.

What Does Clay Taste Like?

Edible clay has a pure, earthy taste, but different types of clays can have different tastes. Most people describe it as “not being as bad as they expected“. Despite the taste, it does not provide any nutritional value.

What Are the Risks of Eating Clay?

However, geophagia over a long period is associated with several health risks, such as parasites, heavy metal poisoning, and intestinal issues. While eating clay can point towards anemia, it does not necessarily improve its symptoms. Moreover, clay can absorb necessary nutrients such as iron and contribute to your anemia.

The bottom line is that it is not safe to eat clay as there are many risks involved. You especially do not want to ingest clay that is not food grade. If you want to eat clay for its health benefits, then it is best to consult a health expert before taking any steps further.

But in most cases, try to avoid eating clay altogether. Especially clay you can buy at your crafts store, it is just not meant to be ingested and could cause complications further down the road.

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