An eggshell is more than just a useful container for the nutritious yolk and egg white inside: it is a prime example of nature’s perfect packaging.
Eggshells are beneficial for us too, consisting of 95% calcium carbonate, making them very similar to our own bones and teeth.
It comes as no surprise then, that eggshells help to strengthen our bones and protect our tooth enamel.
If we only used the shells, rather than throwing them out!
You may not have heard it yet, but just as you can eat the peels of organic bananas or lemons, the entire egg can also be eaten.
The shells are an amazing source of calcium, just half an eggshell provides you with your daily recommended calcium intake. It makes practical sense, not only to feed the shells to your egg-laying chickens, but for you to utilize their unusual strengths too.
If you raise backyard chickens, you are likely to go through hundreds of eggs a year. Save those shells from entering the landfill and use them in your own home and garden instead.
15 Clever Uses For Eggshells
1. Use eggshells to start seedlings indoors
In the pursuit of a plastic-free life and garden, finding a sustainable solution for starting seeds isn’t always easy.
In the past, people reused what they had, yogurt containers or the like, but at some point, plastic pots break down and need to be thrown away/recycled.
Of course, there are peat pots, newspaper pots, gourd shells and wooden flats as examples to eco-friendly planting options, though eggshells come out as the garden winner.
Fill the shell halfway with soil, carefully place your seeds and wait for them to grow. To keep the eggshells in place, place them back in the eggshell carton.
When the plants are large enough, you can transplant the entire pot to the garden, where the shell will break down, providing added calcium to the soil around it.
2. Garden mulch
After a hearty breakfast, or the baking of a delicious cake, crush your eggshells and carry them straight out into the garden!
As they slowly decompose, they will not only help to aerate the soil as they improve water flow, the eggshells will also release calcium over time. The finer you crush them, the faster they will break down.
3. Nourish your tomatoes with a boost of calcium.
While you can place eggshells directly under your tomatoes as you transplant them, sometimes a volunteer tomato plant from last season pops up and you wish to save it. Think of it as a survivor, and give it some extra love and attention.
The addition of calcium to your tomato plants will help prevent blossom-end rot (not a disease, but a physiological disorder created by a calcium imbalance).
For the same reason, eggshells are extremely beneficial for your squashes, peppers, cabbage and broccoli too!
4. Feed eggshells to your chickens
If you want healthy eggs from your chickens, just toss the eggshells right back at them!
Laying hens need plenty of calcium, and if you find that your chickens are in fact eating their own eggs, it may be because of a vitamin deficiency.
Dry out the eggshells at room temperature, and when you have collected enough, go ahead and crush them lightly, then lay out the shells thinly on a baking sheet.
Bake the shells until brittle, 275 degrees for ten minutes or so, then crush some more and serve to the chooks in small amounts.
5. Use crushed eggshells in the garden to deter pests
Ducks will gladly dine on slugs, but you can’t always allow them in your garden.
In that case, try roughly crushed eggshells around the base of plants to deter snails and slugs who wish to devour your lovely greens.
6. Add them to the compost
Again, it is the calcium content that comes into play.
In order to increase the quality of your compost, you will want to add all the biodegradable matter that you can, eggshells included. Having a compost pile reduces your trash and helps the garden too.
7. Wild bird food
Just as you can feed your chickens, you can also give a little support to the wild birds.
The same processes apply: bake, then crush the shells into bite-sized pieces, and sprinkle in their feed mix or on the ground for them to find.
8. Boil eggshells in your coffee
This is wonderful for two reasons.
Firstly, if you are making campfire coffee over high heat, crushed eggshells will help keep the grounds from boiling over. This isn’t a common problem unless you are roughing it, but now you know how to avoid a ruined coffee if the situation ever arises.
Secondly, eggshells added to coffee make for a less acidic cup. When you experience the overwhelming bitterness from a cup of cheap coffee, or from a pot that was brewed too long, eggshells are here to save the day.
The powdered, or finely broken up shell, of just one egg is enough to make 4 cups of fantastic coffee.
Try it. It is a great way to get some calcium with your brew, if you are sipping dairy-free.
9. Toss eggshells in your bone broth or stock pot
Whether you are stirring up an enormous pot of bone broth or a hearty vegetable stock, adding eggshells is extremely beneficial.
It is not just calcium that you will be receiving, eggshells also contain small amounts of other minerals:
It won’t change the flavor, though you will feel the nutritional boost!
10. Add them to your apple cider vinegar
Add some dried eggshells to a jar of apple cider vinegar, with the mother, and let nature science do it’s work. The end result will be a tincture that relieves acid reflux, treats minor skin irritations and itchy skin.
11. Homemade eggshell toothpaste
Once you make the decision to stop using standard minty fluoride toothpaste with a myriad of unpronounceable ingredients, there is no looking back.
You’ll then find all sorts of options to keep your teeth happy and clean – from activated charcoal, to clay and zeolite, all the way to baking soda with coconut oil and essential oils.
Remember from up above that eggshells are similar to our own teeth? This give us great reason to make a very fine eggshell powder toothpaste to brush our pearly whites, holding cavities at bay.
12. Make an eggshell face mask
To nourish and tighten your skin: crush your dried eggshells in a mortar and pestle to make a fine powder. Then whisk an egg white till it is somewhat stiff and add the eggshell powder.
Spread it over your face and allow it to dry. Wash the mask off with cold water and enjoy your free facial treatment.
13. Whiten your laundry
If your whites are not so bright as they used to be and chlorine is a no-go in your natural laundry routine, why not try the method of putting eggshells into a tightly woven bag (or old stocking) with a few slices of lemon?
It doesn’t cost much, if anything, and is definitely worth a try.
14. Scrub your tough-to-clean pots
In a pinch, you can crush a few eggshells into a dirty pot, along with soap and hot water to get it clean. The shells will break up and remove the dirt as they are wonderfully abrasive.
You can use crushed eggshells in hard-to-clean vases as well for a more glistening glass surface.
15. Eat your eggshells
The best way to eat your eggshells? Powder them finely and add to juices, smoothies, soups and stews.
Don’t go overboard though, if you are already getting enough calcium in your diet, you may want to find another use for them. Half an eggshell a day covers your basic calcium needs, more than that is unnecessary.
Why eat eggshells?
Besides the obvious benefits of bio-available calcium coming from free-range eggshells, and the fact that they improve bone density, as well as helping remineralize teeth, eggshells are known to relieve joint pain and inflammation.
That’s a lot of glowing health when you eat the entire egg!
What kind of eggshells to use?
For the sake of eating a healthy, natural diet, you’ll want to make sure that the eggshells you are about to consume come from organic or free-range chickens. Eggs from factory farms are far less nutritious, and may carry hidden pathogens which you will want to avoid.
If you don’t have your own hens, purchase from a local farmer or the farmers market for the healthiest farm fresh eggs possible.
And yes, you can do this with duck eggs or turkey eggs, even quail eggs too.
How to make an edible eggshell powder
To make your own calcium supplement from eggshells is super easy:
- Set your cracked eggshells aside until you have a sufficient amount for processing at once. Rinsing them thoroughly at this stage is enough.
- When you are ready, bring a pot of water to boil on the stove and add your shells. Sterilize them for a few minutes in the boiling water.
- Strain and remove the eggshells, then spread them out on a baking sheet.
- Allow them to air dry for a few hours, or overnight.
- Bake the eggshells at a low temperature (250-300 F) for about 10 minutes, until they are nice and rattly.
- When cool, grind the eggshells in a coffee or spice grinder. A food processor or mortar and pestle works fine too.
- Store in an airtight glass jar, in your pantry or cupboard.
If your eggshell powder still feels too gritty, blend it further or use it in baked goods and energy bars where it can blend in, unnoticed.
You can also add some powder to your apple cider vinegar and drink one tablespoon of eggshell-infused vinegar every day as part of your healthy wake-up routine.
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We’d love to know what you do with your leftover eggshells!