Bentonite (E558)

The first official mention of the beneficial properties of a similar substance was still in Avicenna. It is he who describes the effect that one of the main components of a food supplement, clay, has on the human body. With the help of this natural resource, it is possible to eliminate various kinds of injuries, reduce or completely cure intoxication.

In modern society, a food additive called bentonite, labeled in the international table E558, is widely used not only in medicine. The reason for this is the positive properties, one of which is the antioxidant effect. Therefore, for the human body, it carries a minimal danger.

Product name

The official name of the food additive is bentonite. In various countries of the world, it is spelled as Bentonite. In addition to these names, it can be found in Europe under the encrypted code E558 or E-558.

Various names are known in French and German. It is often called clay with the prefix fuller or bentonite.

Type of food additive

Approximately 70% of the total composition of E558 is attributed to a special mineral with dispersion properties. This is an ordinary clay, which consists of several layers and has the official name montmorillonite. The specificity of this substance is that the silicon ions in it are replaced by similar particles of other metals. In chemistry, it is classified as one of the varieties of aluminosilicates.

The most common use of bentonite is as an emulsifier. Usually diluted in water to form a gel-like specific substance. As a result of mixing, a thixotropic quality is acquired.

There are three types of bentonite in total. The first of them is alkaline - it contains sodium cations. Unlike analogues, they have improved qualities when used in technological processes and an increased possibility of swelling. In nature, such a substance is extremely rare.

The second type is considered to be alkaline earth bentonite. In its composition, calcium or magnesium cations are most often found. The level of their swelling is much lower than that of the previous species. Many of the bentonite deposits are located on the territory of the Russian Federation.

To achieve better performance in use, alkaline earth bentonite is further treated with soda ash. In this case, the finished product acquires the same properties as an alkaline look.

The third type of bentonite includes mixed substances. These are average compositions, enriched in equal measure with both calcium and sodium.

Natural deposits of bentonite can be found at a depth of no more than 100 m. Standard open pit mining is used for mining. As a result, E558 refers to an all-natural nutritional supplement.

Properties of bentonite

Indicators Average values ​​
Color range Usually white, with an additional splash of gray or brown
Composition Aluminum and silicon oxides; oxides of magnesium, calcium, sodium, iron, etc.
Appearance Granules or powder
Aroma None
Solubility None (in base fluids)
Main component concentration SiO2 not less than 57%; Al2O3 not less than 13%
Taste No
Density 2.66-2.84 g/cm3
Others Increased hydrophilicity - swells up to 16 times; plastic; does not interact with chemical acids; has the property of self-dispersion.

Packaging and use or paper container.

Special liners are used to prevent moisture from getting inside. Supplied for sale in standard portions from 25 to 50 kg. It is allowed to pack in special big bags, the mass of which reaches 100 kg.

Bentonite is also available for sale with a tare weight of less than 3 kg. For the purpose of the most effective packaging, bags with a reusable zipper made of foil or polyethylene, a plastic bucket or tanks are used.

Food additive E558 is fully approved for use in the food industry. Here it plays the role of an emulsifier, desiccant, carrier and anti-caking agent. Most often used in industry for the manufacture of treacle, starch, fat and oil products. Thanks to its excellent properties, mankind receives one of the best drinks - wine. Bentonite here plays the role of an adsorbent and is described in OST 18-4971.

As an emulsifier, the substance is used in the manufacture of wine, ridding the finished product of turbidity of protein origin. Also, bentonite stabilizes a material that can be used to produce champagne. To create juice, it is used as a clarifier.

The main positive quality of the additive is considered to be the binding of unfavorable components and their transformation into a solid precipitate.

The main disadvantage of E558 is considered to be increased fluid absorption. Part of the finished product is simply lost. This problem can be solved by using special flocculants. Their main goal is to accelerate the process of sedimentation of unfavorable impurities.

The naturally occurring supplement is considered to be one of the best modern fillers. First, it is completely safe for animals. Secondly, it is able to quickly absorb aromas and moisture. Thirdly, it is economical, since the formed solid lump is easily removed from the general product.

The disadvantage is the impossibility of disposal through the sewer system. In pipes, bentonite swells even more, causing large blockages.

E558 is quite often used by cosmetologists. With the help of clay, especially bentonite clay, many creams, masks and other products are created. It is able not only to retain unwanted aromas, but also to improve the integrity of the product. The additive is used to create therapeutic mud baths, various body wraps, skin masks.

Among the positive properties of the substance, a good effect on body tissues is distinguished - the normalization of metabolic processes, the restoration of the normal functioning of the sebaceous glands, and the acceleration of the process of collagen regeneration.

It is important to remember that frequent use of bentonite can dry out the skin.

The unique properties of E558 are effectively used in medicine. With the help of this substance, many undesirable processes of poisoning with salts of heavy metals, including some poisons (for example, arsenic), can be avoided. For patients with gastrointestinal problems, it helps to cope with pain, bloating, changes in acidity. In some cases, it is used as a treatment for allergies or joint diseases.

In addition, it is used in agriculture and construction. E558 is allowed in all countries and there are no restrictions on its consumption in food.

Harmful and beneficial qualities

Harm to the body when eating bentonite has not been identified. Minor harm can be caused by inhalation of powdered dust, which irritates the respiratory tract, provoking coughing fits. It is useful for the human body, as it has the qualities of a sorbent. With constant eating, there is an improvement in overall health, cleansing the intestines and the body as a whole from toxins.

An interesting fact is that the constant extraction of clay provokes the destruction of vegetation. The solution to this environmental problem is the planting of new plantings on exhausted quarries.