Edible inorganic substances?

What inorganic substances are eaten by (normal) people? The only two I can think of are salt and water, but there must be more.

I imagine that there are many…like iron for instance. But I guess you mean not as result of a healthy, balanced diet.

Don’t some women, during pregnancy, crave - and eat - coal? Or is that an old wives tale?

First thing that I thought of was edible goldleaf.


Never eaten any myself. Always thought it was a silly way to use gold.

Forgot say to scroll down a bit on that page to see the Edible Goldleaf.

There are several trace minerals your body needs, such as potassium and the iron mentioned above, that you normally get through consuming food, but which are sometimes taken as supplements.

On the extreme side, check out all the weird stuff people have eaten to get in Guinness - lightbulbs, cars, etc.

By ‘inorganic’, do you mean ‘not containing Carbon’, or do you mean ‘not arising as a by-product of living organisms’ ?

Coal is organic, if I’m not mistaken.

How about mineral water? Or does that come under the general salt+water heading.


Do Fritos count?

The second. Also, stuff like light bulbs etc. doesn’t really count, as those people can hardly be considered “normal”.

I had heard once the calcium carbonate was officially designated inorganic, notwithstanding its carbonness, much like carbon dioxide. If that’s so, I’ve taken it as a calcium supplement for years. It’s only sometimes the ‘by-product of living organisms’, for whatever that’s worth.

I was reading an American Potter(I think) from the 80’s looking for a recipe using uranium oxide for a glaze, and there was an article about varieties of clay having different tastes. I believe it was Nepal that they were regularly eaten in.

Kaolinite (a water soluble clay) was used in at least one candy bar in the past. The idea, IIRC, was that a little bit of sugar on the outside and the swelling clay would give you an energy boost and a “full” stomach.

Isn’t kaolin also the active ingredient in Kaopectate?

I imagine a candy bar with kaolin would plug you up something fierce!


That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I don’t know, bump…, maybe “firm” you up?

don’t forget that the body could not function without many inorganic minerals, e.g. calcium, selenium, iron, chromium, zinc, magnesium etc. All of these are present in small doses in our food, but may not be in purely inorganic form, and many inorganic salts seem poorly aborbed by the intestines, but must be chelated or similar.

If you are talking about pure inorganic substances that can be ingested whole or as part of others, others include sodium bicarbonate, epsom salts, silica, sodium silicate, barium salts (antiulcer).

My sons used to have a regular diet of sand and mud when they were 1-2 y.

Acetic acid, or (in the UK) “non-brewed condiment”, or cheap vinegar, is commonly made by a chemical reaction from methane, and therefore not derived from living things (although proper vinegar is made by distilling food-based products). (FDA regulations)

Alcohol (ethanol) can be manufactured industrially rather than distilled from plant matter, but I don’t think this is ever done for drink use (for medical or hygiene products it’s different). (UWisconsin site for more info)

Many food additives used in small quantities as colours, perservatives, etc, are also derived by chemical processes.

There are sevreal inorganic molecules that cotain carbon, for example both graphite, diamond, carbon dioxide are considered inorganic molecules. An organic molecule contains carbon and hydrogen.