You've got to love eggs - healthy and nutritious and they come in their own biodegradable packaging. But rather than sling them out next time you whip up a cake or have a dippy egg, consider some alternative uses for the shells.
Add to compost
Eggshells give a great boost to soil, so rather than binning them, add them to your compost. The shells can take several years to break down, so give them a helping hand by crushing them up a little first.
Garden pest deterrent
Smashed egg shells are sharp and make for a difficult path for slugs and snails. Add some shards of egg shell around your delicate seedlings and it will keep them safe from hungry slugs- they hate sharp little bits of shell getting stuck to their undercarriage. Ditto cats. Sharp egg shells are not kind to little paw pads, so prevent the neighbourhood moggy from using your rose bed as a litter tray by scattering broken shells there.
Feed to chickens
Of course, the main benefit of keeping chickens is wonderful fresh eggs every morning. When we had our beloved chooks, we'd recycle their egg shells by feeding them back to them. To prevent any cross contamination of diseases, wash the shells thoroughly, bake in a low oven for 20 minutes or so and crush up the shells before adding to their feed. The grittiness helps them to digest and the calcium ensures a healthy supply of eggs. Don't do this if your chickens are poorly.
Boost your pet's bones
An egg shell is 95% calcium, so as well as benefiting chickens, you can feed it to your cat or dog too. Again, make sure they are clean and disease free first. Grind up the shells into a powder with a pestle and mortar, then add to their food.
Add to baking
This was a popular dietary boost in wartime, but there's no reason why you can't give your baking a little thrifty mineral boost still. Same rules apply about using disease-free, clean shells of course. Grind up your shells using a pestle and mortal into a fine powder. Sieve through a fine tea strainer or sieve, and add a teaspoon of the calcium rich powder to your bread baking.
A few egg shells added to a mesh laundry bag are said to whiten your whites. I've not tried this yet - let me know if you have.
Eggshells make good abrasive scourers, so next time you've burnt something to the bottom of your pan and can't find a pan scourer, use some broken egg shells instead. Remember though they will scratch, so don't use on your finest china.
Remove stains from cups
Next time you notice your mugs have tea and coffee stains, instead of reaching for the bleach, try dropping an egg shell into each cup with some boiling water. The porous nature of the shell will absorb the stain and you can scrub stubborn stains away as above.
Clear cloudy wine
As a newish home brewer, this one excites me! Apparently broken egg shells can clear cloudy wine, so I'm definitely going to give this a go on my next batch.
Surely much more attractive than an old toilet roll tube?! Line up your empty egg shells in an old egg carton, fill with compost and start of your veg seeds. Leave them on the window sill to germinate and when you're ready to plant on there's no need to disturb the root system as they can go straight in, the shells will break down in the soil.
Display pretty spring flowers, or a handful of daisies your child has picked for you in diminutive and delicate egg shells. Perfect for this time of year.
Eggshells make beautiful natural containers, so make an arrangement of bulbs; ferns; mosses and tiny alpines as a centre piece to adorn your table. Free plant pots!
|Image credit: The Telegraph|
I'm sure as a kid you must have done this? When your boiled egg is done, fill the shell with cotton wool and grow cress seeds. Perfect for children as they grow so quickly. See how Red Ted Art does it here.
Because the shells are fragile and break down naturally, they are perfect to make seed bombs with. Scatter wild seed on barren wasteland or hard to reach areas of your garden and engage in a little guerrilla gardening. See my full tutorial for making seed bomb eggs here.
Use the nutrients in an egg to nourish your skin. Grind up some shells and whisk together with an egg white to make a face mask. Leave on to dry, then rinse off to reveal tighter, glowing skin.
Melt down old candle stubs to make pretty candles in egg shells. You can reuse old metal retainers from tealights, and buy wick online. Be sure to use wick for a small diameter candle - the smell of burning eggshell is like burnt fingernails or hair: not pleasant!
Moulds - candles, chocolate, jellies
An alternative way to make a candle in an egg shell, is to use it as a mould like Red Ted Art has done here. You can also use thoroughly clean shells to pour in chocolate or jellies for a fun-shaped treat.
Of course, the architypal use for eggshells is for pretty Easter decorations. Blowing your egg and then adding a hanging ribbon makes a beautiful display. You can leave the shells natural; colour them with dyes; paint them; add lace or fabric or let the kids loose on them with sparkles and glue.
Add to paint for chalky effect
Chalk paint is all the rage at the moment, but it can be terribly expensive. You can get a similar texture to your paint by adding ground egg shells to regular emulsion for a fraction of the price. Try making up a small batch in a tester pot.
Use for mosaics
Another classic kid's activity. Break up egg shells and use to glue onto card, making mosaic style designs. Use the shells natural or colour them first.
Can you think of any more uses for them? I'd love you to share in the comments below.