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Geology/Volcanic Ash Sodium Bentonite


Respected Joe Norris
I am Sarah from Pakistan. Doing Pet Accessories business to earn my livelihood.
I need to know about a naturally occurring clay "Sodium Bentonite". I need to make BALL SHAPED Cat litter from that. Sodium Bentonite comes in fine powdered shape, i have tried hard but unable to convert it into ball shaped litter. Please remember that i need to make almost 500kg per day, so it will be so kind of you if you can help me with this. Any way, any procedure, technique to convert the fine powder in small 2mm ball shaped balls by using water or whatever way.
Best Regards

I am not a chemist but I probably can give you a little info.  

Many pet-owners don’t realize that Sodium Bentonite and Crystalline Silica Dust, contained in most clumping cat litters have been implicated in diseases and even deaths in animals and humans.

Sodium bentonite is often added as a clumping agent to traditional cat litters to create “scoopable” clay litters like Tidy Cats. Sodium bentonite acts like an expandable cement, which is why these litters should not be flushed – they swell to 15 to 18 times their dry size.

Cats often lick themselves after using the litter box, ingesting pieces of the litter, which expands just as it does in the plumbing.  Also, the dust from such litters can coat cats’ lungs, leading to respiratory problems. The HennepinCenter for Poison Control in Minnesota has reported instances of poisoning in humans from chronic ingestion of sodium bentonite, so just imagine what effect it can have on our kitties who breathe it multiple times a day!

Crystalline silica dust, the other ingredient in most clumping litters, is a known carcinogen for both humans and household pets when inhaled.  According to, “Crystalline silica has been classified as a human lung carcinogen. Additionally, breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal.  The silica dust enters the lungs and causes the formation of scar tissue, thus reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen.”

Clumping clay kitty litters may be related to a wide variety of seemingly unrelated cat health problems, included diarrhea, frothy yellow vomiting, mega-bowel syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney problems, respiratory problems, general failure to thrive, anemia, lethargy, and even death.

This said, water will not do what you want; water will only cause the bentonite to swell. What I would do is take a spoon full of pellet cat litter to a lab and have them do a chemical analysis on the components.  From that analysis most geologists and probably most chemists could tell you what you need to do to make pellets.


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Joe Norris


I am an economic geologist. An economic geologist does mineral evaluations and appraisals of mineral or mining properties. I can tell you if your deposit has value - remember that a mineral deposit, no matter how good, only has value when mined. Any value assigned to a mineral deposit, in the ground, is only the speculative value that deposit.


I have been a economic geologist for most of my 35 year career. Although I have done work in perhaps 45 states and numerious countries much of my work has been in Appalachian coal, intermountain west gold and silver, and Arizona uranium.

Past President of the Virginia Section of the American Institute of Professional Geologists and a certified geologist in twelve states.

BS Degree from Eastern Kentucky University. Work on MS Degree @ Eastern Kentucky University, Colorad School of Mines & Marshall University Numerious short courses on the value of mineral deposits and how to value same. Also several short courses dealing with the different types of geologic processes; sedimentary, igneous, metamorphic along with the mineral associated with each.

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