…and How to Pasteurize Them Before You Use Them
I usually have 3 to 5 dozen eggs in my house at all times. We eat a lot of eggs. I used to throw the shells away or put them in the compost pile but now I save them for repurposing. This is how I process them before using eggshells around the home.
First I do a little pasteurizing, because I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry when working with raw eggs.
The process is simple and a little smelly, but worth it.
I don’t bother about breaking the shells up ahead of time, I just put all my saved eggshell bits on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. No salmonella at our house, thank you very much!
Some websites suggest you can just rinse the eggshells and allow them to thoroughly dry before using them. You decide if that is enough protection for you.
See our previous post Five Ways to Preserve Eggs to find out how to use the “insides” before you can crush and grind your shells.
Crush and Grind the Shells
Once the pasteurized eggs have cooled, I use my hands to lightly crush them and then transfer them in my stick blender grinder attachment for further processing.
You could also use a coffee grinder, a blender, a mortar and pestle, or put them in a plastic zipper bag, seal it, and crush the shells with a rolling pin until they are a fine powder.
Be aware that whatever method you are using, any plastic container will become etched by the eggshells as they pulverize.
As you can see, all the shells did not get to the powder stage with the attachment I have, but I think they’ll work for what I want to do.
Use Crushed Eggshells in Household and Garden
Chicken eggshells, are made up of 93 to 97 percent calcium carbonate, in addition to calcium, nitrogen and phosphoric acid. These nutrients make eggshells an ideal choice for garden use.
The top garden eggshell uses are:
- As an addition to your compost. They provide a rich source of calcium and other essential nutrients that plants need.
Drying your shells allows them to crush more completely before you add them to your compost bin. Crushing them will speed up the decomposition process. Also, make sure that you thoroughly wash them before hand in order not to attract vermin on your property.
A source of calcium is a welcome addition to a compost heap, as some plants cannot thrive without the mineral. In some crops, calcium deficiency is serious business and can lead to long-term disease.
2. For pest control of slugs and snails. In theory, crushed eggshells work much like diatomaceous earth on slugs, snails, cutworms and other soft bodied pests. In practice, if the eggshells are not properly sanitized, they can become a slug attractor and do next to nothing about protecting you against the crawlies. But for your peace of mind, apply the crushed eggshells around the plant(s) you want to protect and see what happens.
3. As cute, but functional, seed starters (you know you’ve seen those Pinterest pictures!) Not all plants need to be started from seeds – there are many plants that you can easily propagate from cuttings through a process also known as “cloning” (check out the link for more details), but some plants fare well when started from seed – tomatoes, anyone?
Eggshell seed starters are a genius way of growing your seedlings. They’re basically free, they’re biodegradable, and they add much-needed nutrients to the soil and your plants when they decompose. It’s a win-win-win for your garden.
To turn eggshells into seed starters, make sure that you wash the shells to remove any egg leftover from attracting pests and you could also pasteurize them as shown at the beginning of the post to put all your salmonella worries away. You’ll also need an egg carton to keep the eggshells in it and potting soil or seed starting mix for best results.
Fill the egg shells with soil, place one seed in each eggshell, cover the seed with a shallow layer of soil; spritz the soil with water – don’t soak the soil as there’s literally no drainage in an eggshells and your seedlings will just rot, and finally place the eggshell seed starter in a warm sunny spot.
If there’s no sunny warm spot in your home, you could use grow lights and a seedlings heat mat to provide the much-needed light and warmth respectively. Shield your seedlings from cold air drafts and extreme temperature variations. Spritz them every other day with water but don’t overwater.
Once the seedlings are out, gradually accustom them to the elements, namely harden them off. The best way to harden them off is to place them outside, in mid-shade for, let’s say, 2 hours on the first day, then 3 hours, the next day and so on.
After one week, you’re ready to transplant them, but don’t remove them from the seed starters. Gently crush the eggshells and place them with the seedlings directly into your garden soil. The seedlings’ roots will grow through the crushed eggshells and will benefit from the extra calcium supplementation.
4. To add calcium to your tomatoes. Caused from a calcium deficiency, blossom end rot can be prevented if extra calcium is available in the soil for the tomato plants to absorb. This condition mostly affects potted tomato plants, but garden plants aren’t spared either.
Just add a handful of crushed eggshells to the bottom of the pot or the garden bed (learn more about raised bed gardening in the link) when planting. You could also turn the crushed eggshells into powder and add it to water when you’re watering the plants.
However, since crushed eggshells need time to break down, if your tomatoes are severely calcium deficient, you’ll need to apply an emergency treatment. One of the cheapest and most effective treatment is a lime solution.
Just dissolve 1 or 2 handfuls of barb lime in 1 gallon of water and water the plants with it. Another treatment would be to work the lime into the soil and let it reach your tomato plants’ root as you water them. Don’t over do it with the lime, though, as you could kill off your plants.
5. As chicken feed supplement to add calcium to your flock’s diet. Laying hens need tons of calcium to produce eggs with strong shell and nutritious content. Laying hens also need calcium supplementation to stay healthy as their calcium stores can be easily depleted when laying eggs. A surefire sign that your girls need extra calcium is paper-thin eggs shells in freshly laid eggs.
To make the chicken feed supplement, first bake the eggs until they get brittle. You will not only pasteurize them, but you’ll also make them easier to crush. Next, grind the eggshells into a fine powder in a food processor. Don’t toss the inner membrane as it is rich in nutrients. Mix the eggshell powder with the chicken feed.
By turning the eggshells into powder, you lower the risk of your flock turning into rabid egg eaters as they won’t associate crushed eggshells with a new addition to their diets. Most chickens eat their own eggs in a bid to boost their calcium intake, others have just acquired a taste for egg yolk. Either way, make sure that calcium deficiency is not the problem.
30 Things to do with eggshells from The Prairie Homestead
You can also use eggshells around the house as –
- A natural household abrasive. Grind 1 cup of eggshells into an extra fine powder. Add this to 3 cups of baking soda and mix well. Use it on baked on foods and stubborn stains. The addition of vinegar gives it an extra boost.
- A drain cleaner. Add a small amount of crushed shells to the disposal to help break up stubborn clogs.
- To reduce the bitterness of your morning coffee. Eggshells also clarify it by helping the grounds to settle. This trick works because eggshells are alkaline while fresh coffee grounds are acidic. Use the crushed eggshell from one (organic) egg for four servings of coffee. Use only eggshells from raw eggs, since the ones from boiled eggs will give your coffee a sulfurous off-taste (yuck!). Just add the clean (pasteurized) crushed eggshells to the coffee grounds and brew normally.
- Sidewalk Chalk – see How to Make Sidewalk Chalk using eggshells, flour and water.
- Votive eggshell candles – here’s a step-by-step tutorial from TheChickenChick
8 Smart Reasons You Should Be Keeping Your Eggshells from One Good Thing by Jillee
Eggshells even have a use in home health
1. Make a nourishing face mask by combining 2 tsp. crushed eggshells, 1 tsp honey, and 1 egg yolk. Mix and gently massage on your face for at least a minute, keeping away from the eyes. Rinse after 15 minutes.
2. Add a tablespoon of crushed eggshells to a cup of apple cider vinegar and let it set for a few days. Use it to treat minor skin irritations.
3. Make your own calcium supplement. Use only thoroughly cleaned organic eggs for this recipe. Just bake the eggshells at 350 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes or until they become brittle. Turn them into a fine powder in your food processor. Consume one teaspoon of the eggshell powder every day.
You could also add this additive-free supplement to your dog’s or cat’s diet to keep their bones healthy. On teaspoon of eggshell powder per pound of body weight per day is enough. Use half a teaspoon of the powder if you’re giving your pet at least one pound of meat per day, as too much calcium could be overkill.
4. Turn the eggshell membrane into makeshift band aid. Just make sure that you thoroughly clean the membrane and add it still wet to small cuts, scratches, and even boils. Leave overnight if necessary.
5. Adjust the mineral content of your water kefir. Water kefir grains can be incredibly healthy but they need their environment to be re-mineralized from time to time. You could use mineral drops or add half of crushed egg shell to your water kefir and let it sit there until the grains have done their thing. Make sure that the eggshells come from pastured poultry and that they are squeaky clean.
To Wrap It Up
Crushing and using eggshells around the home and garden is a great way to use an otherwise disposable item to your benefit. Did you know there were so many ways to use it? Tell us in the comment section below – How do you use eggshells?
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