Kaolin Clay Uses, Benefits, Powder, Skin, Eating & Side Effects

Kaolin clay is versatile clay with a number of uses and benefits. It also has unique chemical and physical properties that contribute to its use. Read on learn more about this clay powder, how it is good for your skin, hair, if it can be eaten, uses in soap, deodorants, surround wp spray, where to buy and side effects

What is Kaolin Clay-Chemical Composition & Properties

Kaolin Clay

What is Kaolin Clay?

It is a naturally  occurring clay substance mostly found in soils that have developed from the chemical weathering of rocks in hot, moist climates. A good example of such a climate is the tropical rain forest. It is also called China clay, White clay, White Cosmetic clay, Hydrated Aluminum Silicate, Kaolinite clay amongst other names.

Kaolin Clay Chemical Composition

Kaolin clay is inert (dose not react with other elements) at widely varying pH and temperature and it often exists in nature as a free element.

Its chemical name is hydrous aluminum phyllosilicate (Al2Si2O5 (OH) 4

Kaolin clay hardly dissolves in water, but form slurry suspension. Kaolin clay has very low cation-exchange aptitude (approximately between 1 and 15 mEq/100g). This implies that it can only hold very minimal quantity of any class of cations at any given pH value. Therefore, it is very less reactive. However, it may transform under extreme temperatures above 500oC.

Physical Properties of Kaolin Clay

China clay is fine and light. It is often white in color, especially in its pure natural state. However, the color may vary when it occurs in combination with other elements. For instance, kaolin clay appears pink-orange in combination with iron oxide, and yellow or light orange when in combination with aluminum silicate (feldspar). Sometimes, white clay may appear brown when mixed with sand. See more kaolin clay varieties basing on colors.

White clay occurs in crystal forms of varying sizes. The crystals of kaolinite as seen under electron microscope are hexagonal in shape arranged in platy layers. Kaolin clay is fine soft powder and earthy in texture. It has low capacity to shrink and swell, which means that it has low extent of expanding when wet and low capabilities of contracting when dry.

What is Special about Kaolin Clay?

What makes white kaolin clay special? From the above wide range of uses you can tell the china clay is versatile. That is most obvious answer on what is special about Kaolin clay. Other special and unique properties of the clay include;

  • It is the mildest of all clays.
  • It is made up of a wide range of minerals.
  • It is silky
  • For other uses, it can withstand very high firing temperatures and is stronger as a result.

Kaolin Clay Uses & Benefits for Skin & Hair

How is is kaolin clay for your skin and hair? The external use of this kaolin has a long history and it beneficial as you will learn shortly. Of all the known clays, kaolin (the white type) is the mildest. This property makes it a not-harsh skincare product for sensitive skin types. The distinctive constituents of aluminum oxide and silica largely contribute to the amazing effects for skin.

The safety of using kaolin is mainly based on its rich history in personal use. Not enough scientific evidence exists to support its dermatological effects. However, it’s generally naturally occurring ingredient that is safe to use.

Following are the benefits of kaolin clay for skin

Kaolin is used to Clean and Care for Skin

Kaolin clay has been traditionally used  in caring, nourishing, and soothing different skin types. Currently, kaolin is one of the major active ingredients in most of the facial and skin products, body powders, deodorants, scrubs, and poultices [Awwad, 2011]. It can be used alone or in combination of other products.

The clay can be effectively used to care for wet and oily skin. It is applied on the skin as a dusting powder or in a wet dressing and left for sometimes until dry then washed out. Kaolin clay works by reducing the production of sebum. This makes the oily skin to remains smooth and dry.

Kaolin Helps in Detoxifying the Skin

According to W.N Logan (2009), Indiana Division of Geology,  Kaolin clay is used as skin detoxifying and cleansing agent. The clay contains high content of silica that helps in removing the dead skin and makes it to regenerate. This also purifies and detoxes the skin and makes it moist. In addition, it has unique minerals and phyto-nutrients present, which helps in eliminating toxin and oil from the skin.

To detoxify and clean the skin, kaolin clay is used as facial masks and body wraps, where thin layer is applied on the face or on the body and left to stay intact for averagely 20-30 minutes.

When it is washed out, the skin, remain with remarkable regenerative properties.

Kaolin Clay can Treat Various Skin Conditions

Kaolin clay can be used to treat and heal various skin conditions. For instance, in the gastrointestinal tract, kaolin clay has been effectively used to treat and heal soreness and some swellings in the oral mucosa (mouth) that result from radiation treatments (Barker, et al. 2007).

In combination with other products, kaolin clay can also be used to treat some ulcers or inflammations of the larger intestine, such as ulcerative colitis. This is because kaolin clay provides a protective coating to the epithelia of the gastrointestinal tract, hence preventing damage cause by radiation drugs or the irritant hydrochloric acid that causes ulcers and inflammation.

China clay can be used as a topical emolument to treat some skin conditions, such as soreness of the muscles, aches, and pain, inflammations, small and moderate cuts, bruises, boils cold sores, insect bites, and zosters. According to Berker, this is because kaolin clay enhances blood circulation to the skin. Kaolin is mild hence very efficient in improving circulations of the blood to the skin, which facilitate healing of the skin conditions.

Kaolin Clay for Hair Benefits

Kaolin clay uses also come down to hair. China clay is ideal for the scalp since it gently exfoliates while stimulating circulation and cleansing.

kaolin clay uses and benefits for hair
Kaolin clay for hair

For individuals with dry hair, white clay will serve as the perfect cleanser since it won’t draw moisture from the hair. It increases strength and elasticity, absorbs toxins on the scalp and hair and can aid slow the aging hair process. It can also be used as a hair mask.

Kaolin Clay Powder

Most kaolin products in stores are usually in form of powder. As mention above is this clay is light, fine and has high absorbency properties. It may be available in stores as kaolin powder or  the powder may be used powdered and dry cosmetics and even wet cosmetics such as;

  • Scrubs
  • Masks
  • Facial powders
  • Deodorants
  • Poultices
  • Soaps
  • Scrubs
kaolin clay powder
kaolin clay powder in container

Tips to use Kaolin powder at home

Simply take a teaspoon of the clay powder then mix it your lotion then apply the mixture on your body and hands. To spice it up with more benefits add a few drops of essential oils. Many users agree with the fact that it makes your skin soft. Have you tried kaolin clay powder? Give it a try today to understand its effect.

Eating Kaolin Clay-Is it Edible

Eating white clay is a common habit especially in pregnant women. It is claimed that the clay is eaten for health or to suppress hunger. To some, ingesting the clay is a tradition. The practice of eating clay (soil) or soil-like substrates such as chalk by human and animals is called geophagy. Did you know that even birds eat clay? Birds such as red-and-green macaw have been observed ingesting clay from exposed riverbanks.

White Dirt of Georgia

What is white dirt used for? Why do people eat white dirt? Read on to find out.

In the United States, the major kaolin deposits are found in central Georgia. In this region kaolin clay goes by the names white dirt, chalk or white clay.

According to Georgia Encyclopedia, eating white dirt is a common habit that is usually observed within a minute population of African-American women who have been introduced to this practice by close friends or family members either as children or during pregnancy. Many chalk-eaters state that they eat white clay because they like its taste or that they crave it.

Eating Edible kaolin clay
Edible White clay

According to a documentary film, ‘Eat White Dirt’, several women admit to craving the taste of white dirt which they depict as fresh, natural-feeling, like rain or something.

Anecdotal evidence proposes that some individuals on routine renal dialysis crave kaolin and will it even while being dialyzed.

Is it Safe to Eat White Dirt?

Eating kaolin clay is hardly ever authorized or recommended by medical experts but some nutritionists believe it has health benefits especially in absorbing toxins.

Kaolin Clay in Soap & Deodorant

DIY deodorants with kaolin clay

Clays are very important ingredients diy deodorants. Kaolin clay can be used in place of bentonite clay. It will help neutralize odor. It is also gentle when compared to ingredients which are irritating and unnatural.

Kaolin in  Soap

Have you ever wondered why kaolin is at times referred to as white cosmetic clay? It is an ancient and popular item in skincare beauty products. China clay is used in majority of powdered and dry cosmetics as well as most wet cosmetics. Its light texture and silicate minerals are the properties that make it ideal for cosmetics.

Use of Kaolin in Soap

Kaolin in soap making is mainly because of its silkiness and creaminess. It is also safe and mild. Soap manufacturers use it in shaving and oily skin soaps. Are you preparing homemade white kaolin clay soap and wondering how much kaolin to add to your soap recipe?

According to Soap Making Essentials, the rule is to use up to 1 tablespoon of white clay per pound of base oils.

In case you are interested in making or preparing clay soap at home, Wellness Mama has a couple of kaolin clay shaving soap recipes.

Generally, white clay’s natural absorbing, detoxifying and exfoliating properties makes it an indispensable ingredient in hygiene products such as scrubs, deodorants, poultices, facial powders and masks.

Kaolin Clay for Diarrhea & Children

When administered by mouth, light kaolin is said to absorb substances especially toxins from the gastrointestinal track. It also raises the bulk of stool. According to drugs.com, Kaolin improves stool consistency within 24 to 48 hours; however, it does not reduce the number of stools passed or decrease the amount of fluids lost.

The clinical data available states that anti-diarrhea creations containing white clay have been used in the cure for cholera, enteritis and dysentery but these creations actually do not have any intrinsic antibacterial activity. Hence, kaolin-containing preparations are not recommended as the only treatment for diarrheas.

Kaolin for children, usually taken orally, helps in symptomatic relief of diarrhea and upset stomachs.Kaolin clay is also used to treat diaper rash in children. This involve use of 4-20% of products containing kaolin applied on the skin and left for 30-120 minutes then washed out.

Another use of kaolin in medicine is to relieve soreness and swelling within the mouth caused by radiation.

Surround Kaolin Clay Spray

Kaolin clay uses in agriculture have proved effective in the recent past. Surround kaolin spray has provided organic orchardists a result-producing tool for a variety of petal fall pests that destroy fruit

Kaolin clay is sprayed on fruits, leaves, or the entire crop to prevent insects and parasites from damaging them. It is also sprayed on fruits, to prevent sunscald. Studies have also found out that kaolin clay is rich in silica, which improves nutrients uptakes by plants by increasing the mineral bioavailability.

More  Kaolin Clay Uses & Medicinal Health Benefits

China clay is also has medicinal health benefits. It is not only good for skin but also other conditions. Here are a few medicinal health benefits of kaolin

  • White clay can be used to manage spontaneous pneumothorax –Kaolin has been considered effective in the treatment of spontaneous pneumothorax. This is because the small crystals of kaolin act as an abrasion particularly on the pleura endothelial lining. This makes it produce pleurodesis, which successfully prevent recurrence of pneumothorax or pleural effusion.
  • It is used as a food additive
  • It is also used to relief soreness and swelling in the mouth.

Other Industrial uses

There are more white clay uses in industries. Following are some.

  • The largest use is in paper production [Wikipedia]
  • In ceramics
  • As paint to extend titanium oxide
  • In adhesives
  • In production smoking pipes
  • As absorbents in water and waste water treatment.

Difference Between Kaolin and Bentonite Clay

Basically kaolin is light, mild, fine and fluffy clay. On the othe hand bentonite is heavy, course more absorbing than kaolin.
In terms of PH, Kaolin has a high PH compared to kaolin.
Owing to the fact that kaolin is mild and with a low PH, it can be used for almost all skin more especially skins types with high sensitivity.
Bentonite is not good for high sensitive skins due to its ph and absorbing properties.



Where to Buy kaolin Clay

You have already learnt white clay uses and probably you are interested in buying the clay. Where can I buy Kaolin clay? This is the question this section is meant for.

China clay is readily available and it entirely depends on what you want to use it for. Kaolin clay powder is the most sought for skincare. It can be found on Amazon.comand Ebay.com.

If you want to buy kaolin or white dirt for eating, Amazon is the place to find it. You can also buy it from Bulkapothecary.com in bulk at whole prices for other uses.

Side Effects of Kaolin clay

Is Kaolin safe? Does using this clay have adverse effects on our health? What are the side effects or cons eating kaolin or using this clay as mask or in other skincare products? Read on to find out.

  • Kaolin clay has few side effects and limited severe toxicities. This is mainly because it is not absorbed systematically. However, according to studies, kaolin clay may cause lung (pulmonary) problems, such as pneumoconiosis  in cases of prolonged exposure such as occupational contact. This indicated by reduced Forced Expiratory Volume in one second (FEV1) and Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) due to destruction of the airway, such as in restrictive lung disease. .
  • Kaolin pectin may reduce the absorption especially those that chelate with aluminum salt such as digoxin, lincomycin, and clindamycin. Again, it may also reduce the absorption of quinidine, trimethoprim.
  • Kaolin clay is also remarkably safe in pregnancy. However, there may be consequences for the unborn child for instance;it is sometimes associated with low birth weight when consumed regularly during pregnancy.
  • For those who eat China clay caution should be taken because prolonged usage may lead to Low blood-hemoglobin level, a sign of anemia. Ingesting the white clay inhibits absorption of iron from foods.
  • Many of the women who eat kaolin-specific pica complain of constipation: some even suffer ruptured colons.
  • Chalk –eaters (those who eat kaolin clay) at the expense of healthier foods often develop malnutrition.
  • Some kaolin varieties such the Red kaolin are known to possess strong drawing power should be used minimally avoid adverse effects

Kaolin clay is a clay mineral with numerous benefits as well side effects. Its chemical and physical properties explain how this clay is lets us understand its deep features.It has medicinal and health benefits such as caring for dry skin, treatment of various skin conditions, and detoxifying skin. It is also used to treat different kinds of diarrhea. Its uses are based on its inertness (inability or low capabilities of reacting with other elements). Kaolin clay is also very less toxic even in human, since it is not well absorbed into the body systems. However, there should be more human and clinical studies to substantiate and back up the beneficial uses of Kaolin especially on humans.

Recommended further reading-Kaolin (China, White Cosmetic, Kaolinite) Clay

More on Clay-Bentonite

Montmorillonite Clay

Aztec Healing Clay

Rhassoul (Red Morrocan, Ghassoul) Clay

Multani Mitti (Fuller’s Earth Clay)

 Other Clays-French Green Clay & Dead Sea Mud



Awwad, A. (2011). Nano-Structured Kaolin clay and Its Industrial Applications. New York: VDM Publishing.

Barker, J., Holaschke, M., Fulton, A., Evans, K. A, & Powell, G. (2007).  Effects of kaolin particle film on Myzus persicae (Hemiptera: Aphididae) behaviour and performance. Bull Entomol Res, 97(5), 455-460.

Indiana Division of Geology- Newton Logan  (2009). Kaolin of Indiana.  Bilbao Bazaar


  1. Hi there, my name is mark and I was wondering if you could possibly help me with a question I have regarding Kaolin clay? I just wanted to ask if you think it is safe to use as part of a homemade toothpaste recipe if I have dental fillings? (mercury or amalgam) I have read that Bentonite clay is not recommended as it draws mercury out of fillings, so I just wondered if you knew if Kaolin clay did similar or was safe to use?

    1. Hi Mark.Thanks for visiting DurableHealth.That was a good question. Unfortunately as per now, there is not enough information, in terms of research, studies or user experiences, to affirm that kaolin clay is SAFE or NOT SAFE with mercury or amalgam fillings. However, what is known is that kaolin clay is non-abrasive and chemically inert (nonreactive). And most clays, including kaolin, work by absorbing and adsorbing…but it could be a good idea if you consult a holistic dentist if you really want to try it.

  2. I’m made because the people who made regular Kaopectate were bought by another company and replaced the clay with that nasty flavored pink junk.
    Why should I buy it now and pay their price when it’s no better that the grocery store product sold for $1.00.

    I just don’t care for faked flavors is another reason.

  3. Please what are the quantities of calcium and other nutrients found in kaolin clay?
    Can mere eating of clay cure fibroids or prevent ageing?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Nancy, thank you for visiting DurableHealth. Kaolin or China clay is mainly made up of kaolinite (hydrated aluminium silicate crystalline mineral) Can eating clay cure fibroids? The causes of this condition is not fully known. It is said that fibroids are under control of hormonal changes but still studies are underway to find out more.
      No scientific evidence exists to support the idea that eating clay can cure fibroid or prevent ageing. In fact some individuals claim that clay may cause fibroid. On the other hand, some claim that the same clay can cure the condition. The information is anecdotal in nature. That is, it is based on
      hearsay therefore not necessarily true or reliable.

  4. Hi Charl,
    I have very dry, flaky itchy skin. I believe it is Melasma on the face only (around nose, upper lip and forehead. Is this clay good for very dry skin?

    1. Hi Colleen. Thanks for visiting DurableHealth. Some varieties such as the Red kaolin have strong drawing power thus not good for dry skin. If you must use this clay, use it minimally with a moisturizer. Avoid ingredients that may further dry your skin.

  5. hello I have a questioned about using Kaolin Clay? I am a esthetician and I was reading about Kaolin Clay and it says it could be dangerous if you breath it in. I have lung issues from using the chemical DHA in tanning sprays. I had inhaled to much and I got it all in my lungs and now I have lung issues. Would you say it would be dangerous for me to use kaolin clay mask on a client?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Kimberly, Thanks for your insightful question. It is possibly dangerous especially if it is in form of dust. It also depends on the duration of exposure. A study of kaolin clay miners at Georgia established some workers who had more than 5 years of exposure had radiographic evidence of kaolin pneumoconiosis. The workers in question spent majority of their time in the processing area of the mine where exposure to kaolin dust was the highest. It all depends on how use and the duration.

  6. just read this article. Thank you so much for posting. I’m interested in using Kaolin Clay as a base for making a baby powder. Is it safe for babies, in terms of it being sensitive enough and everything else? Are the risks still high for contracting lung problems for the babies?

    1. Hello Kimberly, thanks for your question. In terms of using it for the skin, Kaolin Clay is thought to be safe because it is the mildest of all clays. There are a couple of baby powders that use it as a base. In terms of risks of contracting lung problems, there isn’t enough information/evidence to support or oppose this idea. All that is known is that this clay may cause lung problems in cases of prolonged exposure especially in adults not babies.

  7. Hello,

    Could you tell me what INGNL means in “According to INGNL 2009” ? I am looking for an article about kaolin… thank you !

    1. Hi Amandine, thank you for your contribution. IDG for Indiana Division of Geology- Newton Logan (2009). Kaolin of Indiana.That was a typo. See the references. Thanks a lot for noticing it.

    1. Hi Reggy, yes it is the same mineral. It was thought to have an association with alzheimer’s disease but studies that have been conducted do not show any connection.

  8. Hello,
    I have researched enough about kaolin clay and it looks like a good remedy for oily skin.
    So, do I use it regularly or weekly for a face cleansing product?

  9. Hi, I am intending to use this powder to treat occasional diarrhea in my dogs as it has become increasingly difficult to obtain kaolin suspension. Please would you advise about the ration of kaolin powder to water for this use. Thank you for your help.

  10. Hi, am very interested with this kaolin clay after studied the kaolin clay actually I have a skin problem so much access oil and open pores I can’t control oily in ma face and since from 3,4 years am finding solution for cure open pores, I couldn’t found so my question is this kaolin clay can v cure oily skin and open pores I really want to get rid from this such kind of problem and tell me how to apply kaolin clay,,, thank you

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