New Habit of the Month: Reusing Eggshells & More

eggshellsOkay, so my first habit probably grossed folks out–taking Raw Frozen Liver Pills, so I’m going to post about something that should be more palatable: getting more uses out of those expensive pastured eggs you’re buying beyond composting! Just out of curiosity, did anyone do the liver pills? I’m still taking them religiously every morning.

Today, I’m going to walk through what I started doing this month as part of my new habit, and then also highlight other things you can do, or that I plan to do. Sound good? Okay, let’s dive in!

Wait, sorry, just a note before we do: Only do this with quality pastured eggs. And unfortunately the private label organic eggs you buy at Publix and Whole Foods aren’t truly pastured. Buy from local farmers if you can. If not, here’s an egg scorecard so you can see if your brand of eggs truly comes from a free range, pastured chicken that’s truly foraging in the grass and not being fed either animal by-products (no organic eggs are, so you’re safe there) or all vegetarian feed (which isn’t natural for a chicken, but which the USDA organic label requires). You know if you’re getting eggs from happy chickens because their yolk will be a nice orange instead of a pale yellow:

20140205_201122

On the left, an egg from a pastured chicken, on the right an organic egg from the Publix private label brand

Don’t despair if you don’t have pastured eggs initially. There’s a use for the eggshells for non-pastured eggs further down in the post. Okay, now let’s start!

First, save your eggshells!

I put mine back into the carton after I crack them. If I’m boiling them, I put the peels into a glass bowl I keep in the fridge. If you want, you can rinse them of the egg whites, but this isn’t necessary, it just makes a later step a little easier.

Save your egg water

If you boil your eggs, save the water and reuse. I haven’t gotten brave enough to drink this, so what I do is pour the water into a glass mason jar and then when it cools, I water my houseplants with it. If any minerals have leached out during the boiling, the plants will like the extra boost! I know this contradicts what I do later in this post, but it’s a mental thing. I’ll get over it and use it to drink soon, I’m sure.

Make Eggshell Water and Calcium Supplements

I’ve seen posts around the internet on grinding up the eggshells to make calcium carbonate (and citrate if you want to take the extra step), but I really liked this one at Revived Kitchen because she generated two products out of one process! Here’s what you do, which will end up in three uses:

  1. Rinse your eggshells of the goop if you hadn’t earlier. Don’t remove the membrane, though, as that’s some good nutritional stuff there. I just plopped all my shells into a bowl of water and then rinsed and transferred to a large stock pot. I saved the rinse water and used it to, you guessed it, water my houseplants.
  2. Boil your eggshells in filtered water for 5-10 minutes. This is to kill off any little buggers that might be still on your shells. It also cooks off any eggs whites you missed, so if you see any white gloop floating on the top, just scoop it out.
  3. Once that’s done, pour the water into glass mason jars through a strainer, in case there’s still some white goop in your water. Set these aside.
  4. Take the eggshells and place them individually onto a cookie sheet and then bake them in your oven at 200 degrees for 30-40 minutes. You want to get them uber-dry. I’ve seen some recipes that skip the boiling step and just do this to kill any pathogens, but I like the extra safety, plus the water by-product.
  5. Take the dried eggshells and break them into smaller pieces. I do this so they take up less room initially in my grinder. The first time I did it, I used my Magic Bullet to get them smaller, but this was an unnecessary step. You could just put them into a bag and smoosh them with your fist.
  6. Place in a coffee grinder and grind, grind, grind. For you coffee drinkers, you could use the same one I suppose, since there are folks who add eggshells to their grinds anyway. It’s up to you. I don’t drink coffee, so I have a dedicated grinder just for purposes such as this, as well as to grind nuts, spices, etc. You want to get it nice and fine (like you’d have said back in the 70s of the men you’d like! Or women, whichever :grin:)
  7. Now you have calcium carbonate! Yep that same stuff you buy in the vitamin aisle, except that this is made from nutritious eggs instead of Lord knows what. Plus it has other nutrients your store-bought vitamin wouldn’t! There are 27 elements besides calcium, including magnesium, boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, sulphur, silicon, zinc, and more. See why you want to get your eggs from healthy chickens? Pour it into an airtight glass jar.

Okay, Now What

Eggshell Water

Once your eggshell water has cooled, cap it and store in the fridge. I used it to supplement my drinking water for the day. I take two 20-ounce mason jars to work with a flavored water concoction, usually it’s lemon water mixed with whatever chilled tea I have in the fridge. I also add 1/2 tsp Natural Calm (a magnesium supplement–I take 2 tsps total/day, I just split it up throughout the day into my water and hot teas) to each jar. So last week I added a shot of the eggshell water to each jar so that the magnesium was paired with any calcium that leached out into the water. If this is too icky, you could use it to water your houseplants!

Calcium Carbonate

So now what can you do with this powdered vitamin you just made?

  • 1 tsp is approximately 750-1000 mg of calcium carbonate (I’ve seen ranges along this spectrum). You could take this and put it into your smoothies. Don’t take the whole teaspoon at once though, as your body can’t absorb more than 500 mg at a time. Knowing this, I think this week, now that I’m out of the calcium water, I’m going to put 1/4 tsp in each of my ‘work waters’ so that it’s paired with the magnesium. Don’t do more than 1 tsp a day. Note that calcium carbonate is not as bioavailable as other forms of calcium, but it’s the same stuff that’s in milk. If you know from your doctor that you need to have this more digestible, then you can convert it to calcium citrate
  • Make calcium citrate.
  • Revived Kitchen had a link to this post: Make Homemade Bathtub Scrub! In fact, if your eggs aren’t from pastured chickens, you can use them for this since you won’t be ingesting them.
  • Add it to your DIY toothpaste. I unfortunately bought calcium before I knew I could make it, and painstakingly opened each little capsule to get the powder. When I use up my current batch, I’ll be sure to use my homemade calcium carbonate. Here’s the recipe I used (though I used Stevia instead of Xylitol), which is a DIY Remineralizing Toothpaste from Wellness Mama.

Other uses for Eggshells

  • Use the shells as natural, degradable planters for your seedlings. Especially tomato plants. If your eggs came in those paper-type cartons, you can also save them to use as seedling starters…
  • Some like to put them on top of their coffee grounds before brewing to cut down on the acidity
  • And check out Prairie Homestead, who has 30+ uses, including making bandaids out of the membranes! I think I’m going to try the recipe to make calcium-rich vinegar

How to Squeeze This Into Your Writing Life

I made the calcium carbonate last Sunday and split the steps up into chunks I did between #1k1hr sprints! You need 15 minutes break in between each sprint anyway, so why not put it to use. And if you’re not doing sprints, it’s a good habit to get up from the desk regularly to get your blood flowing, etc.

Disclaimer

I’m not a doctor, so this is a good time to reiterate my disclaimer in my sidebar. I’m not advising anyone to do this, and if you have any health concerns, you should consult your doctor. All this information I gleaned from others on the internet, so research the links and come to your own decision on whether to do this. I’m only providing it as a ‘hey, this is what I’m doing if you’re interested’ post, a jumping off base for your own exploration.

What about you? Do you reuse your eggshells? What do you use them for? Are you going to give this a try? 

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