Eggs are one of the most consumed household foods. I use them for breakfast, lunches, baking, frying, and boiling, so no matter what meal of the day it is, there is a good chance egg will be present. All these eggs mean that our compost is bound to get some organic matter from these meals thrown into it, which may or may not be a problem.
Dairy products and meat are often advised to be kept out of the composting process due to an increase in rancid smells and pest attractants. Eggs are also an animal product and could cause problems in backyard home compost. Can any type or part of the egg be composted, and if so, are some types of eggs better to compost than others? Let’s find out!
Can I Add Hard-Boiled Eggs to the Compost?
Eggs that have been hard-boiled are probably the safest types of eggs to add to the compost pile. A boiled egg will have been cooked and no longer have any risk of salmonella bacteria. Salmonella contamination can make us sick, and it can spread from the fecal matter of birds to garden soil. Unwashed egg shells may contain it, but boiled eggs will not.
Hard-boiled eggs also will not stink as badly as raw egg yolks as they decompose. Boiled eggs and egg shells add good composting materials and organic matter to the soil, but uncooked eggs can attract pests and smell when they rot. You can compost hard-boiled eggs. They give essential nutrients to the finished compost as they break down, and the egg shells are a good source of calcium.
Why Shouldn’t Animal Products Be Composted?
Tossing animal products like meat, fat, oils, and dairy can cause problems in your compost. If they have to be added to backyard compost bins, then they should be supplied in small amounts to not negatively affect the finished compost. Without the correct composting methods for animal products, you could find yourself dealing with concerns about pest control, bad smells, and undesirable bacteria in your composting pile.
Many animal pests are attracted to the smell of animal products. As the compost ingredients turn rancid, foragers that rely on smell can find your waste and dig into your piles or knock over your bins to get it. You could end up with a stalled decomposition process and compost products spread all over your yard.
Other smaller pests like wasps and flys will be more attracted to a compost pile with animal products. Raw eggs in compost can attract pests, too, and will smell bad if exposed to the air. Make sure to seal backyard compost bins from pests and use hot composting to break down food faster and prevent odor-causing bacteria from populating the pile.
Oil and fats can cover soil microbes and prevent oxygen from reaching deep into the pile. Without an aerobic compost pile, bad bacteria will begin to build and produce ammonia and other foul odors. This can happen in a hot compost or cold compost pile, wherever oxygen is smothered by oil. The correct method of disposing of fats can help avoid these foul-smelling odors.
As meat, milk, and eggs rot, they release an awful smell. In a hot compost, you might be able to break it down before it gets too odorous, but in the average backyard compost pile, it is going to stink for a while. Add egg yolk, dairy, meat, and oils to your do not compost ingredient category to avoid issues with composting.
In the normal composting process, food waste breaks down, and oxygen, heat, and beneficial bacteria are produced throughout the pile. A batch of compost will take chunks of food and reduce it to finished compost without any bad smells or pest problems. If anaerobic conditions develop, your convenient compost could turn into a nightmare.
Water contamination and a lack of oxygen can cause bad odors and, more obviously, pest insects. While the decomposition process still happens in an anaerobic environment, it is slower and much less nutrient-building. While you can get a nutrient-dense but stinky sludge from an anaerobic compost, you will never get the microbially-rich compost you will from an aerobic operation.
How To Breakdown Different Types of Eggs
Because eggs are used in so many different ways, it helps to know what to do to make it easier for your compost to break them down. Raw eggs need different preparation than fried eggs, or else you will throw off the balance of your compost bin. Make sure to do these things when adding eggs to your compost bucket to help them break down quickly and odor free.
|Type of Egg
|How To Compost
|Time To Break Down
|Mix with brown materials
|Crack the shell and cut it into pieces
|one week to one year
|Remove excess oil and compost with brown materials
|Compost with brown and green materials
|Remove meat and dairy or bury them very deeply
|one to two weeks
|Clean and bake
|six months to one year
Raw eggs are the hardest to compost as they present the most risk and the highest chance of compost contact with the bacterium salmonella. Occasionally salmonella is on eggshells from factory farms which could be transferred to your garden plants. If you plan on cold composting, you should wash the egg shells thoroughly with soap and hot water before tossing them into the pile.
If you will be hot composting, there is less chance that harmful bacteria should survive. You should also hot compost your eggs if you have any concerns about salmonella bacteria. Burying raw eggs deep can also prevent pests from being drawn to the smell and tearing up your pile.
A hard-boiled egg is cooked, so there is no risk of bacteria spreading. The shells will be slightly weaker due to boiling and may break down faster than a raw eggshell. The egg inside can break down quickly and will add nutrients to the soil.
If you are composting several boiled eggs at once, make sure to crush up the shells to help them break down faster. Cutting up the eggs into smaller pieces will help you mix them more evenly throughout the compost pile and keep pests from finding them. If you will be disposing of the whole egg, then bury it very deep and surround it with other kitchen waste and some brown materials.
These eggs are usually cooked in a bit of oil and fat. If you need to toss one in the compost for whatever reason, you will want to try to wipe off as much of the fat as possible. Fat will slow down decomposition and cause anaerobic pockets.
Fried eggs are also likely to have salt and pepper and other spices on them. Make sure that if you will be tossing a lot of fried eggs, you try and remove as much of the spice as possible. Microorganisms and worms do not like pepper, and salt can build up in the soil over time, harming plant growth.
These eggs are often only lightly oiled and moderately seasoned. In some cases, milk may be added, which could lead to an odor as they break down. Scrambled eggs will compost very quickly since there are no shells, and it is still soft when cooked.
If you will be composting scrambled eggs, add brown materials with it to balance out the large amounts of moisture. Try to add other kitchen scraps and bury it all very deeply in a compost pile or seal it tightly in a bin. Scrambled eggs will attract a hungry rodent or two.
Since omelets can be made with a variety of ingredients, how you compost them depends on what they are made with. The ingredients you put inside the omelet will determine if it is worth composting or not. Hopefully, you won’t be throwing too many omelets away, but if you do, only compost the veggie-filled ones.
If you have made an omelet with bacon and other meats or a ton of dairy, you will want to follow the no animal products advice and just toss it in the trash. The meat and cheese will likely attract pests and slow down the decomposition of the eggs; if you must compost your omelet add tons of brown material to keep it from stinking.
These need to be cleaned or sterilized in an oven or hot compost to be safe from salmonella. In a hot compost, they should be sterilized and break down in less than a year. If a cold compost, it could take several years to fully decompose.
If you will be tossing your eggshells in your compost, you can speed up the process of decomposition by baking them in an oven on low heat. Once the egg shells are brittle, you can crush them into a powder and get rid of them much faster.