Harvesting Glacial Clay – How Canada’s Natural Resource is Mined and Used in Beauty Products

Harvesting Glacial Clay – How Canada’s Natural Resource is Mined and Used in Beauty Products

Glacial Oceanic Clay is a unique and rare Canadian natural resource. Why? Because you can only find it in one place in the world - along the Pacific Coast of Canada. Ironwood Clay Company is the largest and most trusted supplier of this natural raw material. Ironwood Clay Co. Inc. has been licensed and operating since 1988 and operates in the highest of standard complying with all covenants put in place by the various government agencies.

How Is Canadian Glacial Clay Mined?

Ironwood is the only company permitted to mine marine clay from the ocean floor on the coast of British Columbia. The Canadian government imposes strict environmental guidelines to protect the pristine nature surrounding our Glacial Clay mine sites. Our company works tightly with seven different government agencies (such as the Ministries of Fishery, Mines, Environment, Parks and First Nation), ensuring sustainable harvest and minimal ecological footprint.

Glacial Clay can only be sourced twice a year and the harvesting is dependent on the inter-tidal zones being exposed during the spring and autumn equinoxes. With the help and expertise of industry experts, Ironwood has developed a mining operation of the highest degree of quality to protect its resources and in consideration of the natural habitat and wildlife in the surrounding environment. 

The ideal time for mining Glacial Clay is very short. In fact, the Canadian clay is only accessible at certain times of the year – when the tide is low, but the water is deep enough for the mining vessels to pass through the inlet. 

A typical glacial clay mining operation is about 2 weeks’ time. It takes 3 days alone for the ships to reach the pristine mining site from Vancouver Island. We also travel and transport manpower and any necessary supplies by seaplanes from Vancouver.

Once harvested, the wet clay is put into aseptic tote bags, each holding up to 1,500 kg of clay, and transported by a large barge to our facility in Richmond, BC. Glacial Clay is so powerful in its natural form that we are able to use 95% of the harvested raw material. A mere 5% is waste and comprises mostly of rocks, shells and other large debris.

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What is Glacial Clay?

Glacial Clay was formed (and still is) over thousands of years through the convergence of glacier ice and tidal waters. Thanks to the mixture of glacier ice and ocean, Glacial Oceanic Clay is naturally rich in over 60 minerals and rare earth elements. 

There are many skincare benefits of Glacial Clay, also called marine clay. It has already been used ages ago by First Nations for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Ironwood’s clinical studies show that glacial clay is highly beneficial especially to oily, acne-prone skin, as well as blackheads and large pores. *Clinical research are available upon request. 

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Glacial Clay is one of the few cosmetic clays that comes in wet form naturally. Other clays, such as Kaolin or Bentonite are powders and act mostly as fillers in skincare formulations. They are cheap and don’t have many skincare benefits, so skincare products containing those types of clay are usually enhanced by other ingredients.


About Ironwood

Ironwood is a Canadian personal care manufacturer specializing in Glacial Clay and Mineral Water based products such as clay masks, facial care, sheet masks, hair care, baby care and body care. Our directly sourced natural ingredients contain over 60 minerals and rare earth elements, providing a wide range of skincare benefits. 

Glacial Mineral Water is Ironwood’s proprietary raw material and is refreshing to the skin. It can be used in a wide range of personal care products as a substitute for distilled water, enhancing skincare formulas through its high conductivity.

For more information on our raw materials and OEM inquiries, please contact us here.



450 - 3771 Jacombs Road, Richmond, BC

V6V 2L9, Canada




30+ years of quality sourcing & personal care manufacturing

Since 1989, Ironwood is the world’s leading supplier of Glacial Oceanic Clay and OEM manufacturer of clay-based products, based in Vancouver Canada.

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