If you keep a garden, chances are, other fellow gardeners will give you the advice of using eggshells for adding nutrients to the soil and the plant. That’s why you might have thought of composting eggshells for this purpose. But how do you safely compost eggshells? Are they compostable?
Most people feel concerned and threatened due to the salmonella bacteria that come from eggs. However, if you did a couple of scientific research, you’ll find out that eggshells aren’t exactly harmful and won’t contain dangerous levels of salmonella bacteria as you think.
In this article, we’ll help you to work on your gardening and composting project properly. We list down tips on how to safely compost eggshells.
Are Eggshells Compostable?
Yes, eggshells are compostable since they are an organic material that comes from chickens (and other birds). Eggshells are one of the most common compost materials that you will find in a backyard compost bin.
Moreover, it is often a school project for kids and teens to learn all about composting and backyard gardening. Many gardeners swear by eggshells in terms of keeping their plants and soil healthy and strong.
Benefits of Composting Eggshells
Eggshells have a lot of benefits when you use them either as simple compost or as fertilizer for your plants. Here are the advantages of using eggshells:
1. They provide calcium
Because eggshells are made of calcium, which is the same mineral that’s found in your teeth and bones, it is good for the soil. Among the many nutrients that are used in gardening is calcium due to its plethora of benefits.
Many gardeners and crop raisers often take into account the calcium levels of the soil to enhance the growth of their plants. Here are ways that calcium will help a lot on your gardening:
- It helps the soil absorb more water, lessening the likelihood of soil erosion
- Calcium regulates the acidity or the pH level of the soil
- Nutrients go into the plant much faster with sufficient calcium as a catalyst
- During early growth stages, calcium will help with uniform growth
- Calcium improves cell walls and plant tissue, strengthening your crops
- Forages like alfalfa grow healthier with calcium
- Adding calcium helps increase yields and profit for farmers
2. Eggshells are organic materials
Because eggshells are entirely natural materials to put into the compost bin, you don’t have to worry about leaking out harsh chemicals or inorganic items to the soil. This means that eggshells are safe to use in gardens without having to remove certain parts.
Eggshells come from chickens and various poultry so when you give them back to nature, you aren’t going to be concerned at all about plastics, household chemicals, and the like. Eggshells go straight to the composting bin due to their organic composition. This means fewer toxic chemicals go into your soil.
3. Eggshells can deter pests
If you have problems with slugs, cutworms, snails, and various creepy crawlers, an eggshell compost will help drive them out. However, if you want to do this, make sure that the eggshells are crushed in a couple of sharp pieces so that they will damage the pests and cause them to retreat – sort of like the thorns on a rose.
When the pests get damaged or cut from the pieces of eggshells, they will get dehydrated, causing them to slowly die. To make them into such sharp pieces, you can either put them in a blender (mentioned below) or a similar food processer. Using a mortar and pestle to crush them into smaller pieces will also work just fine.
How to Safely Compost Eggshells
So now that we know about eggshells and how they are compostable and biodegradable, how do we safely compost them in your garden? Let’s have a look at some easy steps:
1. Dry your eggshells
The first step is to keep away the moisture in your eggshells by placing them in the sun for a few days. That’s because the UV rays of the sun will completely disinfect your eggshells from the risk of salmonella bacteria, which is harmful to humans and other living creatures.
You can use a tray to completely dry them under the hot sun. Make sure that the inside of the egg is completely drained of any white or yolk so that it will dry out faster. Place the eggs with the inside facing the sun so that they will dry quickly. Leave the eggshells for a few days until it is completely dry.
If you have pets and kids around the house, make sure to place the eggshells far away from them. Curious little paws and fingers could easily grab and play with them.
Some composting facilities also use a special eggshell dryer that heats the eggshells faster than when under the sun. This will save time if you want to compost a lot of eggshells in one go, especially if you have a poultry farm.
2. Crush the eggshells
Crushing the eggshells can be done using a simple mortar and pestle. All you need to do is to grind the eggshells into tiny little pieces before you put them into the compost bin. By doing so, you are helping the eggshell to break down even faster than if it was thrown whole.
Moreover, when using eggshells as a pest deterrent, we advise crushing the eggshells into sharp pieces to keep the various plant crawlers away.
Alternatively, eggshells can be processed using a blender or a food processor. By doing so, you are turning the eggshell into finer and more granular pieces, which can be used as a safe compost for your garden soil or potted plants, such as tomatoes.
3. Put them into the compost bin or around plants
After you’ve processed the eggshells and carefully checked for any signs of moisture or bugs, you can put them into the compost bin along with your other natural and organic items, such as leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and the like.
If you intend to use eggshells around plants as a natural fertilizer, they should be finely crushed in a blender and then sprinkled around the soil for easier and faster absorption.
Can I compost colored Easter eggshells?
Yes, you can – as long as the dyes used for them are food-safe. If you intend to use the Easter eggshells as fertilizer or as compost material, consider buying or making dyes or colorants that are made from food items or at least food-safe.
If you use non-food dyes, there could be toxic and harsh chemicals that will leak out into your garden soil. This is dangerous if you are keeping edible crops such as tomatoes and other similar plants.
Can eggshells contain salmonella?
While we do know that eggs are at risk for salmonella bacteria infection, that’s only true when the eggs are damp, wet, and damaged.
Here’s a little background: in chicken and egg farms, all eggs are carefully washed and inspected so that there will be little to no contamination of salmonella. This type of bacteria comes from the chicken and gets to the egg if the egg is cracked.
Now, here’s the good news: salmonella is killed at a temperature of 140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (60 to 71 degrees Celsius). Therefore, processes such as hot composting (mentioned below) and drying out the eggshells into the sun will most likely get rid of salmonella, thereby keeping your compost (and your food crops) safe from harm.
Eggshells in hot composting
If you are still quite nervous and concerned about the possible salmonella leak from eggs, you can put your eggshells into hot composting. This ensures pathogens and bacteria that are harmful to your health are either killed or reduced in strength. With this, you will feel relieved that the salmonella won’t rise to harmful levels.
Can I put eggshells in a blender?
Yes, eggshells can be ground and put in a blender, such as a Vitamix blender, to be crushed and become instant fertilizer around your edible crops.
Blenders and food processors will help crush the eggshells so that they will be easier to absorb. This results in faster decomposing, making the eggshells much better at providing calcium and other nutrients for the soil and the plants.
However, as mentioned above, before thoroughly crushing r processing your eggshells, make sure that they are completely dried out from the sun (or from an eggshell drying machine in a facility).
Can eggshell compost keep away pests?
It depends, but many gardeners swear by it. That’s because eggshells, when crushed, form tiny pieces that are too sharp for the pests, such as slugs and snails. This causes them to get injured. However, do note that finely-ground powdered eggshells might not do the trick for keeping these pests away. Eggshells are a pest deterrent but you also have to do other ways to keep them out of the garden.
As a whole, eggshells are indeed compostable but you have to prepare them properly to avoid salmonella contamination. Eggshells are great starters if you want to try composting in your backyard since they are organic. We hope you learned how to safely compost eggshells in this article!