View Full Version : Kaolin or White Clay uses?

01-19-2004, 09:02 PM

While enroute to Fort Gaines last weekend, I stopped at a roadside produce stand in Opelika, Alabama that was selling "Down Home Georgia White Dirt" . I inquired about what it was used for, and the very backwoods sales clerk told me that people ate it! Especially by pregnant women and by anyone that craved it.

The stuff was $1.50 per bag and looked like a large cocaine crack rock in a bag plastic bag. Here is what the label stated:

"Down Home Georgia White Dirt
826 Meriwether St.
Griffin, GA 302224 (770) 228-1493
Charels Maddox Mgr.

Kaolin (clay) A hydrous aluminum silicate of which kaolinite is the predominate mineral.

Some of the uses:
Adhesives, paper, catalyst, pesticide, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, glass, plastics, ink, rubber, paint and old white wash.

Georgia Pure White Dirt. No additives. Not suggested for Human Consumption.

I ate a small chunk, it will clean you out, totally.

Any chance that this was widely used in the 19th century?

I thought it would be useful in making authenitc paint.

01-19-2004, 11:36 PM
The Brits issued a Kaolin compound in tins to brighten their buff leather for a century or two. An English-made white Enfield box strap would have been whitened with kaolin when new. Never heard if any made it over here for that use.

Kaolin is also the clay used to produce all those little white English and Dutch pipes since about 1580.

The practice of clay eating or ''Pica'' is an ancient and world-wide practice.
It's origins in the New World are both indigenous and imported.
It simply replenishes mineral deficiencies.

If you have taken Kaopectate for an ''upset stomach'' then you have ingested kaolin clay.

01-20-2004, 03:56 AM
Kaopectate...well I'll be. Finally an argument solved. My cousin and I (yes we have a good deal of time on our hands in the winter) were goin' back and forth like two old maid sisters just about a week ago because he thought that nasty green c__p called 'kale' was used in the stuff and that was where the name came from.

Yes, very bored.

01-20-2004, 10:34 AM
The quiet vice of clay eating seems to have died out in my family right around WWII, when cash money and all that it buys became easier to obtain.

The craving is often an indicator of malnurishment, (a shortage of iron I think) and was especially common in women with multiple children born close together. Sites with good clay and personal stores of it were well guarded possessions, passed down from mother to daughter.

HMMMM--I've been thinking a lot lately about a good name for a deep south po' white civilian group--you may have just helped me out here :D

01-20-2004, 10:49 AM
One of my aunts is a retired social worker in very rural northeast Texas. She said that within memory clay eating was considered a form of birth control. Of course, she was making the home visits due to the recent birth of a baby....

Vicki Betts

K Bartsch
01-20-2004, 12:10 PM

They covered it on an episode of Turner South's "Liars and Legends" a couple of years back. Bizarre practice indeed, but the folks who "dig it" (pardon the pun) swear by it. Nice chunk of moist white clay, hot cup of coffee and a Marlboro. Yum!

Sister Lawson: sounds like a zinger of a poor civy group concept! "Deep South Dirteaters!" or perhaps, "Kaolin Krunch Klan" (oops, probably a bit too klose for komfort), maybe the "Pica Purgative Party" or. ... I'd better stop before I hurt myself. ;)

K. Bartsch

01-20-2004, 12:47 PM
I was really hoping that I could make a good, 1860's period correct bug killer/pesticide for our coastal SC events. If the clay can be used for such. I also think the white wash and leather whitening properties would be useful to our hobby.

Oh well I feel the sudden urge to gnaw on some more clay. What happens if your addicted to clay? Do you attend clay-eaters anonymous meetings?!

On a second thought the clay really wasn't preventing pregnancy, it was everything else associated with the clay eaters lifestyle.

Thanks everyone

01-20-2004, 12:53 PM
Good ideas Keith, keep 'em coming, but don't bust anything that a good truss won't remedy. ---------Bill Rambo's been after me to name my little traveling circus for the last year or so--I think I'll let him choose though. He wasn't too thrilled with my first choice "The John Harrelson Production Line" --thought it a bit TOO graphic, even if the FCL is NOT a "family organization".

Me, I've been swimming in the winter meeting of our area mainstream organization last weekend, so I've had my fill of being nice and ladylike in big hoops and fine bonnets. I even kept my mouth shut unless specifically called upon. I'm ready to change into fort clothes, pick up my bow and have some REAL fun.

Alas, I have 8 set of corporate books to close this week and thus cannot take to the woods until Saturday.

Toothless Secessh Trash,

01-20-2004, 07:34 PM
"he thought that nasty green c__p called 'kale' was used in the stuff"
Sorry this is off topic, but I have to defend kale's reputation - there's nothing better with some cornbread and pinto beans.
Nicholas Roland

Iron Scout
01-20-2004, 10:42 PM

I can't help you with a insect repellant for humans per se but have one for horses that might be worth trying sometime. I've wanted to experiment with this one for a while! Hey, if it works for horses, it may work for humans to combat those infamous "flying teeth" of the SC Lowcountry. This is taken from "The Confederate Housewife" compiled and edited by John Hammond Moore, Summerhouse Press, 1997:

"To Prevent Horse Being Teased By Flies-

Take two or three small handfuls of walnut leaves, upon which pour two or three quarts of cold water. Let it infuse one night, and pour the whole, next morning, into a kettle, and let it boil for a quarter of an hour; when cold it will be fit for use. No more is required than to moisten a sponge and, before the horse goes out of the stable, let those parts which are most irritable be smeared over with the liquor, viz: Between and above the ears, the neck, the flank, &c. Not only the lady or gentleman who rides out for pleasure will derive benefit from this preperation, but the coachman, the wagoner, and all others who use horses during the hot months. -Edgefield Advertiser, April 17, 1861 "

The Confederate Housewife is an excellent compilation of period newspaper tips ranging from dyeing textiles to curing the cat from killing chickens.


Neill Rose