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With over 300 studies on the beneficial properties of the zeolite clinoptilolite, this mineral has gained increasing renown for its natural ability to trap toxins, heavy metals and environmental pollutants, and depending on how the zeolite is processed, it works up to three distinct ways to take out toxins!
Capturing through cationic exchange
The first way zeolites work is through their cationic exchange abilities. Before you glaze over that science term, it just means because zeolites are negatively charged, they attract positively charged particles, or in other words, opposites attract.
How does this work? In nature, the negative charge of the zeolite is balanced by the presence of four-exchangeable metals known as cations—usually calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium—which are only loosely held and readily “traded up” for other substances it prefers.
Zeolites willingly exchange a weakly-charged calcium ion from their cage-like structure for an ion that has a strong positive charge and fits tightly in the cage, like mercury, lead, cadmium or arsenic. Lucky for us since these heavy metals are known to have devastating autoimmune, neurological and carcinogenic effects.
Good stuff goes out of its cages and bad stuff gets trapped in the newly available cages—a perfect fit. Once inside the cage, these toxic heavy metals are no longer active in the body, and are flushed out through the body for good within 4-6 hours.
To get this beneficial effect, make sure the finished zeolite product is buffered with those four-exchangeable cations of calcium magnesium, sodium and potassium. A third-party test can validate this has been properly processed.
Surface Area Creates a Sandwich Effect
Cationic exchange works perfectly for particles small enough to fit inside the zeolite cage, BUT, what happens if you have very large, positively charged molecules, such as many of the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) we’re exposed to on a daily basis?
That’s when the zeolite calls in the cavalry to “sandwich” those particles. Two or more negatively-charged zeolites stick to various points on the positively-charged bigger toxin and haul it off naturally through the body. Thus Volatile Organic Compounds such as benzene, toluene, acetone and others will still be removed, even though it’s not technically “inside” the zeolite cage.
To maximize this effect, look for a zeolite with a small particle size, rendering a greater surface area (and more zeolites to sandwich VOCs).
A Zeolite with Zeta Potential?
Zeta potential describes the electrical potential of a particle. And since the effectiveness of zeolite is based on the strength of its charge, electricity matters.
Normally, when you look at the structure of zeolite crystals there are a lot of empty spaces between the intersections of the pores and channels. These spaces are like gaps of air where a charge is weakened.
Think of it like having gaps in your electrical wiring and the energy simply cannot get across. If you reduce the amount of space between the points (by making it smaller) the charge can bridge the gap and connect.
Applying the concept of zeta potential to zeolites means the entire particle becomes charged which allows it to more effectively attract heavy metals and VOCs.
The rarefied world of zeta potential (it can’t yet be directly measured, only theoretically) ONLY applies to zeolites that are in a colloidal suspension (no dry powders need apply) and where the particle size and charge converge to create electrical potential.
There are many reasons why particle size matters—since the particle needs to be small enough to get into the bloodstream —and now you can add zeta potential and super-charged particles to the list! No toxin too big or too charged will stand a chance!