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Clay: the 3 properties you did not know

Clay: the 3 properties you did not know

The clay is a complex of harmonically coexisting mineral systems that, according to geologists, derives from millenary erosive processes by atmospheric agents (water, wind, solar heat and volcanic heat) on original granite rocks. The most important chemical element in clay is aluminum silicate, which, however, never presents itself in pure state but is accompanied by a series of minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, etc.). These impurities have a significant effect on the color of the clays which are: white, red, yellow, pink and green.

To understand the reason for the extraordinary effectiveness of clay it is important to know its chemical nature in the first place. The average chemical composition of a green clay of Italian origin is: silica (46.70%), alumina (11.30%), calcium oxide (10.60%), iron sesquioxide (5.20%), magnesium oxide (4.95%), potassium oxide (2.70%), titanium dioxide (0.65%), sodium oxide (1.30%), humidity (5.20%), loss to dry (11.40%).

The elements constituting the clays are practically constant, although presenting some differences depending on the places of origin. Relevant is the fact that all clays, everywhere dug, virtually contain almost all minerals and among them the seven heavy metals: silver, iron, mercury, gold, lead, copper and tin. Their very small quantity is a collection of trace elements which is therapeutically very interesting even if, from a strictly chemical point of view, these metals are impurities.

The properties of clay

The numerous properties of clay do not derive solely from its chemical characteristics; other factors such as the type of preparation, the ionic exchange capacity in the osmotic processes, its drying in the sun, its particle size and ventilation intervene to increase its mechanisms of action which, however, have not yet been fully clarified.

The clay is antiseptic, anti-toxic, absorbent, bactericidal, healing, energizing.

The different types of clay and their preparation for use

It is important to choose the most suitable type of clay to be used.

Coarse ground clay is used mainly for large-sized poultices or cataplasms, or for baths, pediluvi and clayey maniluvi. It comes in pieces. To prepare it, place the required amount of clay in a container that is neither metallic nor plastic (wood, glass, porcelain, majolica), roughly roughing the surface, adding cold water to cover the clay and, without mixing , allow the liquid to be completely absorbed; finally cover with a gauze to prevent any foreign body from settling and allowing it to stand for a few hours. The ready clay is smooth and homogeneous, with a creamy and dense consistency that much, collected on a spoon does not coli. In case of warm or warm use it is necessary to heat it in a bain-marie, but never directly on the fire.

Fine ground clay has the appearance of a normally dissolved earth and is used for compresses and cataplasms of normal proportions, for bandages and clay baths, for washing, irrigation, masks and cosmetic applications. It is prepared in this way: in a container (never metallic or plastic) place the necessary quantity of clay giving it the shape of a cone (as is done with the flour), add water (cold, warm or hot) to cover about half of the cone clay. Allow the liquid to be completely absorbed, adding a little water if the consistency of the mixture is excessive. You can also add to the mixture a few drops of extra virgin olive oil to increase its plasticity.

The ventilated clay is instead that earth that has been treated in a special cylinder using a powerful jet of air that separates the smaller clay granules from its powder. This powder, which has the consistency of a powder, is precisely ventilated clay. It is used for internal purposes, to make frictions or to pack pills, tablets, soaps, toothpastes: the use of clay in this granulometry for external use can be considered quite occasional and sporadic.

How to use clay

Clay is mainly used as an external medicine and mainly these methods are used:

- Cataplasms: they consist in spreading directly on the skin or on a light gauze, the clay prepared as previously explained. It is advisable to use a wooden spatula to apply the mixture, for a thickness of 1 or 2 cm, on the established area, covering a surface 2 or 3 cm wider than the one concerned. Once the clay is spread, it is necessary to wrap itself with a light cloth (of natural and white fiber) and fix it with bandages or plasters, so that it remains firm. Then wrap everything with a wool or flannel cloth to keep the part warm and protected. The duration of a cataplasm varies from half an hour to a few hours depending on the problem to be treated.

- Packs: the clay mixture is diluted with water, a cotton cloth or cotton swab is dipped into it until it is impregnated with clay. After having dripped it a little, place it on the part to be treated and cover it with a flannel cloth.

- Bandages and bandages: here too the bandages or bands with a wide weave are immersed in the preparation, suitably diluted, the extent of which will be proportionate to the part to be treated. It then proceeds by wrapping the affected area. This method is normally used to cover large areas or for aesthetic purposes.

- Pulverization: in this case, ventilated clay powder is used, spreading it on the part as if it were talc. The powder is excellent for treating sores, wounds, eczema, on which it exerts a highly disinfectant and antibacterial action, encouraging at the same time the reconstruction of damaged tissues.

- Clay baths: it is clay dissolved in water and in which you dive completely or partially (pediluvi, maniluvi, soppies), for no more than 15-20 minutes. Using this method it will be advisable not to use the usual bathtub because, by discharging, the clay could clog the pipes: it is therefore advisable to resort to a tub. This type of treatment is used in case of rheumatism, arthritis, bony affections.

- Ointments: it is possible, adding essential oils to use the clay to prepare ointments to be used both for medicinal and aesthetic purposes. There are a lot of ointments obtainable, but let's see the example for the treatment of boils. In a non-aluminum container, melt two pieces of unrefined sea salt, stirring with a wooden spoon. Then add, by mixing, a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and fine powdered clay in an amount to obtain a consistency of ointment. Put the hot dough on a cloth to be applied on the part to be treated. Repeat the operation until pus appears, from that moment apply cold cataplasms of only clay for a day or two.

- Clay masks: clay masks are essentially used for cosmetic purposes. In their preparation we proceed as for the preparation of ointments. Leave on for 15 minutes and rinse with warm water. The mask, one of the most used cosmetic and therapeutic treatments, behaves like a powerful absorbent paper that removes the toxins of the epidermis and at the same time gives off mineral substances, revitalizing and energetic elements. The superficial mechanical action that takes place during the removal of the mask itself, moreover, allows the elimination of the superficial corneal lamellae and makes the skin clearer, degreased and clean.

- Clutches: in some cases they are made with massage oil in which a little ventilated clay has been diluted. You can also use extra virgin olive oil or other suitable support.

Dr. Laura Comollo

Visit our phytocosmetics department to choose our clays line or contact us for further information or for further information.

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