Can I Compost Eggshells

15 August 2016  |  HOTBIN Composting

Can I Compost Eggshells?

Composting Eggshells in the HOTBIN

A popular composting question we get asked is whether eggshells will compost in the HOTBIN. Although it may seem like a myth, like most things, eggshells do break down over time and this article covers the science behind why we say they can be added into the HOTBIN.

Can I Compost Eggshells?

What Does an Eggshell Consist Of?

For those who don’t know, an eggshell is a natural source of calcium with the shell made almost entirely from calcium carbonate - it’s one of nature’s great designs really!

Calcium carbonate can be likened to lime/chalk, which although difficult to digest by bacteria in a cold compost heap, is susceptible to heat. This exposure to heat causes the shell to soften and weather resulting in it becoming brittle.

Benefits Adding Calcium to Soil

The process of liming is well known to seasoned gardeners. This is where lime is added to acidic soil to increase calcium content, raise soil pH and improve soil quality.

Similarly to a human diet where calcium is needed for strong bones, calcium is essential for supporting cell growth in plants to ensure strong plant walls and healthy growth.

Different Uses for Eggshells

Eggshells provide further benefits such as enhanced aeration when added directly into the soil. It is claimed that eggshells act as a slug deterrent because of the sharp surface they create for the pests - conversely however you do run the risk of attracting rodents into your garden who are looking for a free snack.

If you fancy being creative, half shells can be used as starter pots for seedlings providing them with calcium benefits from the very start.

Whatever the use, the general advice for using eggshells on the garden is to wash, dry and grind and be prepared for them to take a while to breakdown.

How to Compost Eggshells in the HOTBIN

If adding eggshells into the HOTBIN it is recommended that they are crushed into fragments before adding. When processed inside at temperatures of 40-60°c the heat inside the HOTBIN causes the shell fragments to become brittle encouraging them to breakdown much faster than they would have done if the shells had bypassed the hot composting process.

Composting Eggshells in the HOTBIN

When harvesting a batch of HOTBIN compost you may well still see small bits of shell, these however will be quite brittle which means when added to flower beds they will break down/crumble quickly  releasing calcium into the soil faster too.

All other types of shells can be added into the HOTBIN too such as mussel, crab and cockle shells to name but a few.