Think Twice Before Tossing Eggshells

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The next time you make an omelet, don’t just throw the eggshells away. Photo: Cindy Baldhoff

We have all heard plenty of hype about the health benefits of the “incredible, edible egg,” but the compact little cases they come in do more than just carry your chickens before they hatch. Although eggshells are beneficial for the soil, most of us don’t think twice about tossing our shells after they’ve been cracked open. In fact, the U.S. dumps about 150,000 tons of eggshells in the garbage every year.

Why not just throw them away? Because these super shells are pretty spectacular. For starters, they’re made up of 93 to 97 percent calcium carbonate, plus they contain nitrogen and phosphoric acid, so they’re beneficial for the soil. Here are just a few uses for them outside the kitchen:

1. Fertilizer for the garden. Rinse and dry eggshells, grind them up and mix them into the soil. They’ll give your plants a healthy boost of sulfur, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.

2. Snail deterrent. Crushed eggshells are kryptonite to snails and slugs! Loosely crush eggshells (you want them to have rough, jagged edges) and scatter them in a circular pattern around your plants. The shells’ sharp edges will keep snails and slugs from crossing to get to your plants.

3. Better compost. It’s common for gardeners to add lime to their compost because it has calcium carbonate, which helps balance out acidity. As mentioned earlier, that’s the main ingredient in eggshells, so instead of purchasing lime, use eggshells instead. After drying the shells, crush them into small pieces and add them to your compost.

To dry the shells, set them outside and use the sun’s natural heat and warmth, or heat them in an oven in wet or cooler weather.

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