Saturday, February 18
The Versatile Eggshell
I have been slacking on the use of my compost bins lately, mostly in the form of food scraps, due to the weather and that the chickens get right of first refusal.
And they don't refuse much.
But I don;t like to give them egg shells, which I would normally throw in the compost buck destined for the black bin outside. I know that some people say you can crush them up and add them to the chickens food to add extra calcium, but I just think that it might encourage egg eating. Even though powdered egg shells are used in animal feed and pet food, and there are nutritional supplements that are composed of them, i really don't want to take the chance.
So what can I do with them besides toss them in the compost? In an effort not to waste, I went looking for ideas on the modern homesteaders #1 resource - our good friend, the internet.
Eggshells are composed of around 95% calcium carbonate (the other three percent is organic matter and egg shell pigment). Calcium carbonate = good stuff.
IN THE GARDEN:
This seems to be the most popular was to use eggshells, by far. They are an inexpensive source of fertilizer and provide the soil with calcium carbonate, greatly enriching it. The components of eggshells encourage healthy growth in your garden plants. Mix crushed, dried eggshells right in with the dirt when you transplant your seedlings for a boost of energy and nutrients, especially with tomatoes and peppers.
Around the yard in decorative gardens, place crushed, dried eggshells around hostas, lilies, begonias, peonies and roses to discourage slugs, cutworms and snails where you do not want them. There is some back and forth on if this works but in theory, the sharp edges of the egg shells will deter these soft-bellied creatures from approaching your plants. Either way, it is a great way to avoid using toxic pesticides.
Deer are deterred by the smell of eggs, so scattering dried shells around the garden can keep them away from your pole beans and broccoli plants, while giving the plants a nutritious supplement. It is also said that crushed egg shells discourage cats from using your garden as a potty, a plus for any gardener. Some manure is not welcome.
There are several methods for using the entire egg shell as a way to start and grow seedlings. The most popular way I have found is to use half shells filled with potting soil. Place the half shells into the egg container or similar container, fill with dirt and plant the seed. You can poke a small hole in the bottom of the shell to allow for some drainage. The egg shell might break up as you continue to water and the seed grows but the carton or container holds everything until you are ready to plant. Then simply put the seedling, dirt and what is left of the egg shell in the ground. The egg shell provides a little extra fortification to get your seedling started outside. If the shell is mostly intact, crack it up a little before it goes in the ground to give the seedling roots an easier go of it.
Not just the shells can be used after you crack and peel a hardboiled egg. The water can also be used as a form of “plant tonic.” There are two ways of doing this. The easy way is to dump the water from the pan after the eggs are done into watering can, add a little fresh water, and use it in the garden. The other way is to put egg shell pieces into a jar of fresh water with a tight-sealing lid. After several days, you can remove the egg shell pieces and water your houseplants with a nutritious soaking.
The most obvious way to use egg shells is to throw them in the compost. Eggshells tend to decompose quickly in the compost pile and add valuable calcium and other minerals to the mix.
NATURAL BODY PRODUCTS:
Eggshells can be used to treat skin irritations such as bug bites, dry or flaky skin, or mild rashes. Dissolve an eggshell in a small jar of apple cider vinegar (takes about two days) and use the mixture to treat minor skin irritations and itchy skin.
A facial mask can be made by crushing dried egg shells with a mortar and pestle. Whisk the powder in with an egg white and use for a healthful, skin-tightening facial. Allow the face mask to dry before rinsing it off.
The super-thin membrane inside the eggshell has long been used as a home remedy for a wide range of ailments, from healing cuts to treating ingrown toenails. The membrane lining of the egg shell contains anti microbial substances . After cracking the egg and before throwing the shell in the compost, peel the thin white skin or membrane out.
Tear off small pieces of the egg membrane and put them wet side down on the peeling skin next to your fingernails or on ingrown toenails. Leave it on until it has dried and wash it off.
You can also put the damp side of the membrane on a small cut and leave it there until it dries. To treat a stubborn cut, spread a little egg white over the top of the membrane after it is in place over the cut and if necessary bandage over that.
Another popular use of the membrane is to draw out splinters and blackheads. As it dries it will tend to draw the splinter or foreign matter out a little, enabling you to pull it out with tweezers.
AROUND THE HOUSE:
Eco-friendly Household Abrasive - Shake crushed eggshells and a little soapy water to scour hard-to-clean items like thermoses and vases. Crushed eggshells can also be used as a nontoxic abrasive on pots and pans.
To remove stains from a tea pot, thermos or water bottle, fill it with a mixture of crushed egg shells and a little bit of water, shake vigorously and let sit overnight. You can also use the same technique in your kitchen or bathroom sink.
Crushed eggshells added to a greasy pan helps remove stuck or baked on food.
Mix crushed eggshells with your coffee grounds for smooth coffee. The calcium in the eggshell helps to reduce the acidity of coffee and will also help any loose grounds sink to the bottom of the cup.
You can put cracked egg shells inside your lidded commuter coffee cup or thermos to clean it. Add water, and shake your cup well. The egg shell pieces will help to remove residue without breaking the plastic or glass liner of your mug or cup. Be sure to rinse and wash your mug or cup thoroughly before using. (Remember, raw egg may pose a threat of salmonella infection.)
Unclog your drains - Keep a few ground eggshells in your kitchen sink strainer. They trap additional solids and when they slowly break down, they will help to naturally clean your pipes on their way out.
Less Bitter Coffee - Add an eggshell to the coffee in the filter, and your morning coffee will be less bitter. The spent coffee grounds, eggshell and bio-degradable filter are then conveniently ready for the compost pile.
"Blow out" the inside of a raw egg and paint/decorate the hollow shell to make your Faberge eggs or other craft projects. Pieces of egg shell (plain or dyed) are also used in mosaic art projects.
Spread tiny pieces of egg shells out on your bird feeder on your deck or in your yard. The local birds will enjoy the egg shells, and they may even use the egg shell pieces to build their nests.
Female birds, particularly those who are getting ready to lay eggs or recently finished laying, require extra calcium.
Dry eggs hells by placing in a low oven for a half hour. Crush them finely and add them to your dog's food for a boost of calcium. BIRDS: Spread tiny pieces of egg shells out on your bird feeder on your deck or in your yard. The local birds will enjoy the egg shells, and they may even use the egg shell pieces to build their nests. Female birds, particularly those who are getting ready to lay eggs or recently finished laying, require extra calcium.
STRANGE and GROSS:
Jello and Chocolate Molds - Carefully fill "blown out" eggshells with jello or chocolate to make unique egg-shaped treats; peel away the eggshell mold before serving, or serve as is and let your guests discover the surprise inside.
The Fuel of Tomorrow? - Researchers at Ohio State University recently discovered that eggshells might be the key to producing affordable hydrogen fuel.