Living on the homestead means finding ways to use everything to its fullest extent. Eggshells are a useful resource, but most people toss them away without thinking.
Before you decide to use eggshells throughout your homestead, it’s best only to use eggshells from healthy natural chickens if you or your animals will ingest the shells. The eggs from the store aren’t as nutritious and might carry pathogens. Keep that in mind!
How to Bake Eggshells
Before you use shells, especially if you plan to eat them or add them to your garden, you need to let them air dry or bake them.
Baking is my preferred method because its faster and I feel as if the heat helps to kill off bacteria. Baking the shells also dries out the membrane inside the shell, which can be hard to get out of the shell.
To bake eggshells, place the eggshells on a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for an hour around 250 degrees F. Another option is to bake lower, around 170 degrees F, for a longer time. Make sure to let them cool after.
How to Crush Eggshells
Most of the ideas below required crushed or powdered eggshells. Chickens with high amounts of calcium lay eggs with particularly hard shells so that it can be a tough task for your hands. Here are a few of the methods I use to crush eggshells.
- A Blender. Perhaps the easiest way to crush eggshells is with a blender. Just toss them in and turn it on, but observe. If you don’t want a fine powder, a blender might be too powerful.
- Wide, Wooden Spoon. Another option is to use force and mash with a wide, wooden spoon. It feels satisfying to smash them with a spoon. My kids love to do this for me!
- Coffee Grinder. If you don’t have a blender, you can use a coffee grinder. It works well to create a powder. If it can grind up coffee beans into a powder, you can bet it can do the same for eggshells.
17 Ways to Use Eggshells on the Homestead
1. Feed Them to Your Chickens
Chickens need calcium in their diet to produce the hard-shelled eggs. Crushing and feeding the eggshells back to the chickens is like giving them a calcium vitamin each day. Some people like to purchase oyster shell supplements, but why buy supplements when eggshells are free?
Each eggshell has around 750 milligrams of calcium. That’s way too valuable not to use for your checks!
2. Plant with Your Tomatoes for a Calcium Boost
One of my favorite ways to use eggshells is around my tomato plants. Using the shells help to prevent and fight blossom end rot, which is caused by a calcium deficiency. Eggshells are high in calcium, so it’s a no-brainer!
Add clean, crushed eggshells into the hole you dug when you transplant tomato plants from their containers into the garden. If you’ve already planted your tomatoes for the year, you can dig a small hole around the base of your plant carefully and put the crushed eggshells into the hole.
3. Start Seedlings in the Shells
If you’ve spent any time on Pinterest, you’ve seen pictures floating around of seedlings started in eggshells. It’s a genuinely genius idea, and it helps to reduce the cost of starting seeds. Seedling starter containers are pricey, and they’re often not reusable.
To use eggshells for seedlings, fill each rounded end of the egg with soil to house the seed. Using eggshells provides the seeds with more nutrients throughout the growing process. You do need to keep the eggshells in a container because they’ll wobble and fall over if not held in place.
4. The Membrane is a Natural Bandage
The method is pretty impressive! The membrane of an eggshell promotes healing of skin wounds. The nutrients in the membrane are believed to have healing properties because the membranes surround a developing embryo of the chick. So, the compounds are designed to nourish a growing creature!
Eggshell membranes contain amino acids, collagen glucosamine, and hyaluronic acid. All of these nutrients help with connective tissue disorders while also offering pain-relieving effects. You can use egg membranes to draw out blackheads, heal acne, and draw out splinters.
5. Sprinkle Around Your Garden to Deter Pests
There are a few ways you can use eggshells to deter garden pests. One of the easiest ways is to crush them up and sprinkle the eggshells around the base of your plant. Doing so helps to discourage slugs and snails because of the sharp edges.
Another way to deter pests is to create an eggshell powder and dust the leaves with it. This method kills beetles and stops them from coming back.
6. Make a Homemade Calcium Supplement
That’s right; you can make your homemade calcium supplement. First, you have to clean, dry, and crush the eggshells into a fine powder. That can take some time. The shells do need to be thoroughly cleaned and dried before use to avoid any bacteria.
Take the powder and put it into a 00 size gelatin capsule. Seal the capsule up. A 00 tablet is appropriate for adults, but you can get smaller gel capsules to use for a child.
7. Boil in Your Coffee
This idea isn’t as weird as I first thought. Initially, I had no idea why anyone would put eggshells into their coffee grounds. However, it’s a centuries’ old practice. People put eggshells into boiling coffee to clarify the grounds and reduce bitterness.
8. All-Natural Cleaner
It’s time to kick that Ajax and other coarse cleaners out the window. It’s full of nasty chemicals anyway. Coarsely grind the eggshells and mix them with Borax, storing in a container. Then, when you’re ready to use them, mix with a bit of soapy water.
Another method is to mix ½ cup baking soda with the eggshells. Use this just like you would use the borax and eggshell mixture.
This mixture creates a non-toxic, abrasive cleaner that you can use to clean pots and pans, sinks, bathtubs, or anything that needs a bit of texture to get clean.
9. Add to Your Compost
One of the easiest ways to use eggshells is to crush them up and add the shells to your compost. Eggshells are considered a “green” addition to your compost. They help to add nutrients to the compost that your vegetable plants, fruit trees, and berry bushes will love.
If you like vermicomposting, you can feed your worms by adding eggshells to your compost bin. Make sure to crush them up nicely to make it easier for the worms to digest the shells. Eggshells are an excellent food source, as well as a bedding material, for your worms.
10. Nourish Water Kefir
Take finely ground eggshells and put them into the jar with water kefir. Adding eggshells to water kefir helps to keep it strong and healthy. All you need is to add is ¼ teaspoon per quart at a time for maximum benefits.
11. Make Your Own Eggshell Fertilizer
To make fertilizer from eggshells, they need to be crushed finely. Add the eggshells to warm water and let them sit outside in the sun for a few hours. It helps to suck the calcium from the eggs into the water.
If you want to make a complete fertilizer, add Epsom salts and fish emulsion. Spray your plants once a month for an extra boost of nutrients.
12. Eat the Shells
Yes, YOU can eat eggshells! To eat eggshells, you need to clean them with hot water and soap thoroughly. Let them air dry and crush the shells into a powder. The powder can then be stored in a glass jar or any airtight container.
To use the eggshell powder, sprinkle it onto your food as a calcium supplement. It’s known to help those suffering from diarrhea, human and animal.
13. Sharpen Your Knives
If you don’t have a knife sharpener, but you have eggshells on hand, you’re in luck! Mix crushed eggshells with a bit of water, just enough to make a spreadable mixture. Rub it on the knife blade before and during the sharpening process.
14. Add Calcium to Your Broth
Homemade broth is full of all kinds of nutrients and vitamins, and adding eggshells to your broth or stock increases the calcium without changing the flavor or texture. The healthier the broth, the better it is for you.
15. Reduce Dental Pain
Dental pain is horrible, leaving you feeling miserable. It hurts your head and disrupts your entire day. To help alleviate some of the pain, mix equal parts comfrey root and cleaned eggshells.
The mixture can be ingested, but it’s best to let it coat the sore tooth and gum. Wipe it off when done and rinse your mouth with water.
16. Make Calcium Citrate Supplement
You can make your calcium citrate supplements at home with eggshells. Clean the eggshells thoroughly, which is vital anytime you might consume the eggshells. Let them air dry or bake them in the oven.
Crush the shells and add one tablespoon of lemon juice for each medium-sized shell. Cover the shells and wrap, letting the juice dissolve the shells. Now, you can use the mixture as a calcium citrate supplement.
17. Make Eggshell Sidewalk Chalk
Did you know that you can make sidewalk chalk from eggshells? It’s a cheap way to provide some fun and entertainment for your children.
First, clean the eggshells thoroughly, grinding them up in powder. Ten eggshells should be enough. Add 1 ¼ teaspoon water, 1 ¼ teaspoon flour, and a squirt of food coloring. Mix well and pour the mixture into a cylinder container. Toilet paper rolls are my favorite, and they’re free! Let them dry until solid, which will take 18 to 24 hours. Once dried, you can remove it and start having fun.
Final Thoughts on Using Eggshells
Being a homestead means that you have to look at things differently, and tossing eggshells in the trash isn’t an option. That’s wasteful, and eggshells aren’t just waste. They’re little treasures in the making.
Always remember to use pasture raised chicken eggs. It’s best if you know where your eggs come from because factory farmed eggs have higher amounts of bacteria, such as salmonella than backyard chickens.
Finding ways to use eggshells on the homestead is the perfect task for anyone who likes turning trash into a treasure.
Bethany is a mom of three living on a suburban homestead in Eastern Ohio. She’s an avid gardener and advocates living a frugal lifestyle.