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Where Dirt Comes From

September 10, 2009 By: NB Category: Clean Basics

Our love-hate affair with dirt.

dirt happens

Dirt.  A four-letter word that is both a blessing and a curse.  Without dirt, life on this planet would be shockingly different if it existed at all.  Dirt is the matrix for a large portion of our plant life.  Plants that provide us with food for ourselves and our livestock. Plants that take in carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and produce oxygen.  Plants that provide us with materials for building, clothing, medicines, furnishings, tools, and hundreds of other items we use on a daily basis.  On the other hand, dirt, by it’s very nature can be teaming with micro-organisms, both helpful and harmful.  Dirt can become contaminated with a variety of natural and man-made elements – radon, landfills, sewage, and nuclear wastes to name a few.

Where does dirt come from?  The inner core of the earth is believed to be primarily a solid sphere  of an iron-nickle alloy about 758 miles in radius and may have a temperature similar to the Sun’s surface.  The liquid outer core that surrounds the inner core is believed to be composed of iron, nickle and trace amounts of lighter elements.  Surrounding the core is the earth’s mantle which contain silicate rocks rich in iron and magnesium.  High pressure and temperature in the mantle allow the rock to be very ductile, which is the ability to be deformed plastically without breaking.  Movements of this “plastic” rock cause the movement of the tectonic plates.  When tectonic plates collide large volumes of rock, and sometimes molten rock, push up through the earth’s crust and form mountain ranges.  Exposed rock is broken down by a variety of natural processes.  Wind blasts the rock with sand (smaller pieces of rock that have already been broken down).  Water in the form of rain and rivers wear away small pieces of the rock.  Freezing and thawing cracks and crumbles the rock into smaller rocks.  Plants grow roots into cracks in rocks and help the elements break them apart.  All of this takes time of course, a very long time, but eventually a rock is reduced to tiny particles that we call dirt.  As more dirt is deposited on the earth’s surface, in it’s streams and rivers and the bottom of the ocean, lower layers of dirt can form new rocks and mineral deposits due to the higher pressure and temperature in the upper mantle.  Some scientist estimate that the majority of dirt on the earth’s crust is about 2 to 5 thousand years old.

And while we understand that dirt is a necessary element for life as we know it we don’t want dirt in our homes.  We don’t want to sit in it, sleep in it, wear it or eat it.  We don’t want harmful micro-organisms and toxic contaminants threatening our homes and very lives.  And so we wage a war on dirt.  But everything in life comes with a cost. We don’t have time to clean constantly even though the enemy infiltrates our abodes constantly.  We have a need, in this day and age, to be financially economical.  And we have a responsibility to our fellow humans and, by default the planet we live on, to subscribe to the Hippocratic concept of  “first do no harm”.

Here then are the tools, guides, principles, and resources to create and maintain a clean home.  Win the war on dirt and save your time, your money, your health and our planet while you clean your home.

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