Sodium Bentonite Clay or Calcium Bentonite Clay: Which Is The Best For Detoxing?

FOOD GRADE bentonite clay (both sodium AND calcium) can be safely used both externally AND internally. Use for clay drinks, detox baths, face packs and even in tooth whitening and tooth paste products.
3 Best Selling Bentonite Products:
1. Food Grade Sodium Bentonite Clay
2. Bentonite Clay Face Mask
3. Natural Earthpaste Toothpaste

When I first started looking into Bentonite clay and using it, I like many others, had been led to believe by information that I’d read online that calcium bentonite clay was the only clay that should be used internally, and that sodium bentonite clay was only suitable for external use.

However, I have since learned the truth, and that is that all bentonite clay is suitable for internal use provided it is clean, pure clay with NO fillers, and has been approved for internal use (this should always be stated on the packaging).

Food grade bentonite clay, whether calcium or sodium, is the ONLY clay that should be used internally.

 Buy FOOD GRADE bentonite clay

Understanding Bentonite Clay

Bentonite Clay is classed as a smectite. This is a swelling clay that has powerful drawing and absorptive properties. There are four types of Bentonite Clay, also referred to as Montmorillonite. They are:

  • sodium
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • potassium

These clays are identified according to the higher amount of one of these exchangeable ions ie. sodium, calcium, magnesium, or potassium.

The most well known and commonly marketed are sodium bentonite and calcium bentonite.

Does it matter which type of Bentonite clay I use?

No! It makes no difference which type of Bentonite you use because it’s all about the IONS!

What are IONS?

IONS are atoms that have gained or lost one or more electrons. A common atom has no electrical charge, but ions are either positively or negatively charged.

Ions are attracted to each other by their opposite charge. Kind of like a magnet. An electrical exchange takes place and it doesn’t discriminate. So it matters not whether the ions are sodium, calcium, magnesium or potassium.

An example of this in action: Arsenic has a positive charge and is looking for a negative charge to balance its electrons. Because all Bentonite clays have negatively charged ions, they will bond with arsenic or any other positively charged particle.

This is how clay works as an effective cleansing or detoxing agent in the body. It binds to positively charged heavy metals or toxins and locks them away. They are then passed out of the body and into the toilet via the digestive system.

This is called adsorbing.

Absorbing does the locking away part.

Note that sodium Bentonite clay contains calcium as an exchangeable ion, and calcium Bentonite contains sodium as an exchangeable ion and so you can convert Calcium Bentonite to Sodium Bentonite by adding a small amount of salt to a cup of clay. This will give provide more sodium exchangeable ions and therefore sodium Bentonite.

It is also worthy to note that sodium is a better electrical conductor than calcium and so there may be an advantage is this regard.

No matter which type of Bentonite clay you choose, rest assured that all types of Bentonite are abundant with exchangeable negative ions and that’s a big positive for our bodies!

Bentonite clay

What about the minerals in clay?

The minerals that make up the various types of Bentonite clay are similar. However, because bentonite clays are a natural product, they vary in colour and texture and each clay deposit has its own unique combination of minerals.

What about mineral uptake?

There is growing interest in Bentonite clay as a mineral supplement, and the idea that it has nutritional value is increasingly being used in marketing. However the test results for bio-availability we have had done confirm that the minerals in bentonite clay are not bio-available.

They are not able to be absorbed through the skin when applied topically. Nor is our digestive system capable of breaking clay down into individual minerals that can be absorbed.

The truth is that bentonite clay has NO value as a mineral supplement.

And this actually makes sense because if we could in fact digest it, it would lose its cleansing capabilities.

The benefit of using bentonite clay internally lies in it remaining intact as it passes through our digestive system, attracting and absorbing toxins, locking them away, and eliminating them from the body.

And ultimately if our digestive system is clean and functioning properly, then it follows that more efficient nutrient uptake will occur.

What matters?

First, ensure that the clay you purchase is in fact Bentonite clay! This is because these are swelling clay, and have the ability to absorb toxins and pollutants, and remove them from your body.

It is important to choose clay that is pure/clean clay with nothing added. Some clays can have buffers and fillers.

If taking clay internally it must be stated on the label that it is 100% bentonite clay and food quality or edible.

Screen mesh size

The screen mesh size refers to the milled or granular size of the finished product. It is a measurement of the fineness of the powder. Usually the finer the powder the quicker it will hydrate.

However the mesh size does not affect the performance of the clay. It is the fine particle size of Bentonite, meaning molecular size, that provides a large surface area for absorption and this is what separates it from other clay.


  1. There are four types of Bentonite clay:
    • Sodium bentonite
    • Calcium bentonite
    • Magnesium bentonite
    • Potassium bentonite
  2. They can all be used both internally & externally provided they are Food Grade
  3. When it comes to clay quality it is all about the IONS – 70 -90 cation exchange is ample.
  4. Sodium bentonite may have an advantage for detoxing as it is a better electrical conductor. However calcium bentonite can be converted to sodium bentonite by adding a small amount of salt.
  5. The minerals in clay are NOT bio-available. We do no digest it. It passes through our digestive system undigested.
  6. The finer the molecular (micron mesh size) the more effect the clay (for detoxing).
  7. The finer the screen mesh size, the easier it will mix with water and hydrate. Clays are more effective when well hydrated. (Mix well and leave to sit for as long as possible for best results before drinking or using).

My Personal Experience Using Bentonite Clay Internally

I’ve been using bentonite clay for a lot of years, and to be honest, I had come across that article that misled the whole internet into believing that calcium bentonite was the only safe clay to ingest. I actually didn’t find out until quite some after I’d started using the brand of clay that I first used, that it was in fact sodium bentonite!

I chose the brand of clay I was using because it was food grade, and after doing a bit of research, I discovered that many of the food grade clays are in fact sodium bentonite!

I remember coming across discussions around the whole sodium vs calcium bentonite clay thing online and realising that there was so much mis-information. There was clearly a lot of confusion and I even saw someone telling others that there was no such thing as food grade clay! This is simply false.

My advise after many years of clay ingestion is simple. If you want to drink clay, eat clay or otherwise use bentonite clay internally, always make sure that what you’re buying is food grade clay, otherwise you really have no idea what you’re consuming.

Why I Wouldn’t Be Without Bentonite Clay

I always have bentonite clay in the house and wouldn’t want to live without it. Clay is amazing for detoxing. You take it internally or use it in the bath and it also makes a great face mask.

But there’s a whole lot more to bentonite clay than that.

When I go away on holiday, or even away for a weekend, I always take a small container of bentonite clay with me. Why? Because it can be a real life saver when sh@t happens…

Over the years I’ve used bentonite clay:

  • On bites and stings (with almost instant relief)
  • On boils
  • On injuries by making a poultice
  • For diarrhea
  • For stomach upsets
  • When I’ve been a bit suspicious about what I’ve eaten (think food poisoning risks)
  • On splinters or any time a ‘drawing action’ is required
  • On strange skin ‘things’ – lumps, bumps and things that look a bit ‘suss’
  • On verrucas
  • In my home made bentonite clay tooth powder

Bentonite clay has so many uses (more than I’ve listed here). Keep some on hand so that you have it whenever you need it! And rest assured, it doesn’t expire so you can have the same container of clay in the house for years.

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve used bentonite clay and if so, what you use it for.

Buy FOOD GRADE Sodium Bentonite Clay

Want more DIY skin care? Check out my Tallow Balm recipe or let me do the making for you and buy Tallow Balm ready made.

10 thoughts on “Sodium Bentonite Clay or Calcium Bentonite Clay: Which Is The Best For Detoxing?”

  1. Dear Sue,

    When I saw your first video, my world became a better place.

    While I’m much older than you (66), your story of your experience is almost identical to mine. I’m almost embarrassed to say I watched the video multiple times, just because it made me feel better, and our stories are uncannily similar.

    I recently was tested, and given a diagnosis of Pyrroluria and/or Copper/Zinc imbalance (I don’t really care what they call it, the symptoms and treatment are the same. For mainstream docs (including my supremely unhelpful daughter), I call it Copper/Zinc imbalance, which they feel comfortable with since there are blood tests–Oh, how they love their blood tests. However, for everyone except MDs and some DOs are call it Pyrroluria.

    Finally, after being misdiagnosed AND INCORRECTLY TREATED for RA, Lupus, Hashimotos, Depression–with sometimes extremely toxic drugs, like Prednisone, Methotrexate (the jury’s out on antidepressants). (No doc! There MAY appear to be depression, but ANXIETY is the hallmark of my disease, as it has since my first memories of childhood). Strong, body-tensioning, exhausting anxiety and tension have defined my life. However, I did manage to make some adjustments along the way, psychotherapy, psychedelics (in college–they work, this was the most serene, socially rewarding, and spiritually unfolding time of my life), super-exercise, pot (sorry folks, I confess. It is a safer and more effective drug for what I have than anything else–I don’t care if I get arrested, it’s still worth it.)

    Anyway, I don’t want to get off track. I’d like to ask you a lot of questions, but I sense you’re busy with the book. If you need any help with it (research, proof-reading, style, clarity, grunt work, whatever), just call or FaceTime, or text or email me

    1. Hi Dave. Unfortunately most mainstream doctors know little if anything about Pyroluria, but some do, and for the existence of those doctors, many of us are thankful. I know there are so many people (old and young) who remain undiagnosed and spend most their lives looking for answers. I feel for those who end up on the anti-depressant, mental illness roundabout, because for them, life can really get out of control. It’s funny that drugs were helpful for you. For me, even pot just made me more anxious so I gave up trying that when I was quite young!

      Oh and I’ve removed your contact details as I didn’t think it best to leave them on there for the world to see. 🙂

      Thanks for the feedback

  2. Lesley Fahrenkamp

    Hello, I mm here just to gain info regarding clays, I read in and found the conversation interesting!
    I have never heard of that disease , I’m sorry it exists and sounds like hard to diagnose properly .
    My ailment is nerve damage caused by a back surgery that went terribly wrong. That’s about that so how to live with chronic pain . I have to agree, for the “Make me jump off the bed” muscle spasms which seem more like labor I. Their. Timing of pain , MJ has been the only help . I have been given so many different , pills, which include all from A-Z and “Pill Cocktails” which my surgeon seemed to enjoy congeriing up! Although I didn’t really appreciate passing out and losing an entire day on the floor with a lump on my head! I just stopped taking any.
    I began the MJ experiment and found that ingestinMJ Butter to be the most effective pain/muscle spasm reliever of all. I don’t enjoy having to feel “Altered” to be comfortable I am thankful there is an option! Good luck to anyone who’s suffering and searching, I will say, be very careful in regard to pharmaceuticals mixed together, it can be a very scary experience which is also an up side to MJ. One herb. I do find that the Indica strain for me is most effective for nerve pain. Sativa is another strain and makes me tend to focus more on the pain than anything else. Everyone is so different. Peace. Health.

  3. I have a quick question that I hope you can still answer. Is there a difference in the granular and powder clay?

    1. Hi there. I’m sorry but I’ve not heard of granular clay. I’d imagine that it might be harder to take or use as it may not mix as readily with water, but that’s just an assumption on my part as I’ve only used powder. Always make sure your clay is food grade though if you’re using it internally.


    1. Hi there. I’m not sure what the maximum dose would be, or even if there would be a max dose. The usual amount is 1 or 2 tsp a day in water. If you have more it’s probably not going to have any added beneficial effect, but probably won’t do much harm either (might make you constipated or cause some digestive discomfort maybe?) because it’s simply just clay. Sorry I don’t have a more specific answer, but I hope that helps.


  4. Hi Sue,

    As a geo by training I am fascinated by the different uses of materials from the earth. That said, I did in the past do some analysis work on sodium Montmorillonite for use with race horses. Volcanic sourced vs marine sourced clays appear to be different in their respective minor elements suite and each elements concentration. The take away is that some of these sources have levels of toxins much higher than expected in humans, even to the level of toxicity for humans. So, I ask, can you point me to any randomized double blind placebo controlled trails demonstrating efficacy?

    An anecdote is that the parrots of South America eat clay with apparent positive effect.

    Thank you,


    1. Hi Jesse. I don’t know of any randomized double blind placebo controlled trials on bentonite clay – but that’s not surprising really. Unfortunately natural products such as clay don’t make the massive profits that pharmaceutical drugs do and so there isn’t the motivation or money to pay for trials. Therefore we, the consumer, just have to use our common sense, our intuition or ‘knowing’ about what’s real and good for us and go with that. I personally have used this clay off and on for years with only positive effect and I’ve seen it do some amazing things when used topically. That’s good enough for me. I don’t need millions of dollars worth of studies to tell me it’s good stuff! 🙂

    2. As Sue as pointed out, DB RCTs are expensive studies to perform. It’s typically only pharmaceutical companies and Governments who have the right combination of interest and money for such studies. As there’s no money to be made in selling bentonite for human health purposes, that eliminates the corporate interest in such studies.
      Also, being entirely reductionistic in their approach, RCTs are not particularly effective at determining the individual human outcomes of holism, or that which is integrative. It’s simply the wrong tool for the job. Paying close attention to thousands of years of living human experience is a better source of appreciating the benefits of something like ingestion of bentonite clay. A healthy level of scepticism is important when making such observations … which simply means, approach the subject from a place of inquiry, a search for answers.
      The holistic human body, in its natural state of intelligence, has the means to determine whether or not a given substance (like bentonite clay) is life-affirming or life-degrading. Your request, Jesse, for DB RCTs related to clay ingestion suggests to me you, like most people suffering form the consequences of modernity, have likely lost some of your innate bodily intelligence. Which is quite normal for a body conditioned (and indoctrinated) by a world that prizes the artificial and the synthetic, over the natural and organic.

      There’s nothing “wrong”, however, about wanting to see some third party data / views on something like clay ingestion. In a natural setting, we would turn to our elders and other members of the tribe / community who have relevant experience, for such information. Ingesting clay can seem a bit freakish in a world that has normalised disconnection from nature. So, with that in mind, here’s a meta analysis of ~2500 studies on bentonite clay:



      PS. And Sue, from a fellow Kiwi, thanks for your thoughtful write-up on Bentonite clay.

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