Using activated carbon and zeolite with plants.
We have casually suggested that the zeolite and activated carbon in used Purrified Air filter media packs can be disposed of as additives to growing soil, indoor or out, for plants. Beyond that, we never really looked into it in any great detail, until now.
Turns out when we’re right, we’re right. The average customer goes through two filter media packs a year per filter. (And we are the first to admit it is expensive.) That’s 4.4 pounds of filter media which still retains great value as a soil conditioner. Read on and learn how to get two uses for the price of one.
We did a bit of research on what the experts say. Here is a brief summary. Sources are listed at the end of the article.
In agriculture, zeolite is used as a soil treatment. If previously loaded with ammonium, the zeolite can serve a similar function in the slow release of nitrogen. Of course, the zeolite in a used filter media pack is loaded with ammonia as that is the primary odor causing chemical in cat urine which was captured by zeolite instead of your nose. Ammonia is also a key ingredient in fertilizer as it is a form of nitrogen. Think about this. The bad odor you eliminate with filter media turns into plant food. Talk about the circle of life.
Zeolites can also act as water moderators, in which they will absorb up to 55% of their weight in water and slowly release it under the plant’s demand. This property can prevent root rot and moderate drought cycles.
Following are the uses of Zeolites in Gardening and Farming
It acts like a soil conditioner and can help retain more water in soil, 100 grams of Zeolite can hold 80 grams of water and can release it easily to plants.
Zeolites also have been observed to store nutrients and release them slowly. Hence they can be used with singular fertilizer.
They can be mixed with soil during soil preparation phase.
In pots they can be lined at the bottom of pot so that draining water can be absorbed and nutrients escaping can be recovered.
They can also be used to line the bottom of the lawn bed just prior to laying of soil, this can help your lawn to become more efficient in terms of water and nutrients.
Zeolites can help in absorbing water which is released to plants easily.
Unlike soil amendments such as lime, zeolite does not break down over time. Instead, it remains in the soil to improve nutrient retention. In agriculture and horticulture, zeolite is used as a slow-releasing carrier of fertilizers and agrochemicals like insecticides, pesticides, and growth stimulators. The mineral is particularly useful for recultivation, increasing the nitrogen balance in light and sandy soil, and increasing the production capacity of acid in devastated soils.
Zeolite also prevents soil compaction and works to increase infiltration, both of which promote aeration of deep root systems due. This process is made possible by the mineral’s high surface area and porosity.
Because of its superior absorption and adsorption properties, zeolite reduces water and fertilizer costs by retaining beneficial nutrients and moisture in the root zone. The porous structure of the mineral promotes active soil that remains aerated and moist over time. Because zeolite is not acidic, its use alongside fertilizers can buffer soil pH levels, which reduces the need for lime applications. Due to these properties, zeolite is beneficial both in terms of economic and environmental factors.
Activated carbon shares many properties with zeolite such as moisture absorption and removal of odor. They can be used together. While most people think it’s neglect that does house plants in, over-watering is actually the most common way to kill your green friends. Keeping them alive means figuring out how to not drown them, and that’s where activated carbon comes in.
Without proper drainage, water will linger at the bottom of the pot, and roots become water-logged and susceptible to rot, fungus and bacteria. Unfortunately, when it comes to water, not all flower pots and planters are created equal. Some have drainage holes, which allow the water to seep out easily, and some don’t.
If you don’t have drainage holes, it’s best to add a drainage layer to the bottom of your pot before adding your soil. Unlike packed soil, which traps liquid, this added layer lets it pass through quickly. Although the water is still there, it heads to the bottom of the planter, and away from plant.
Activated charcoal rids the soil of impurities, repels insects, and prevents mold and odors. It's also extremely porous, meaning that when you drown your leafy friends in water, it will absorb the excess, thereby preventing root rot.
Adding a layer of activated charcoal to the bottom of your plant pot, underneath the soil, can help your plant's health in a number, according to Apartment Therapy. The substance rids the soil of impurities, repels insects, and prevents mold and odors. And, since activated charcoal is extremely porous, when you accidentally drown your leafy friends in water, it will absorb the excess, thereby preventing root rot.
The pre-Columbian people of the Amazon region created rich soil by adding charcoal and animal bones to regular dirt to produce a very fertile soil.
When used in soil building, charcoal is often referred to as “biochar” or activated carbon.
Carbon can decrease nutrient leaching, lower soil acidity, and reduce the amount of water and fertilizer used on your vegetables and flowers. It is highly porous and contains many of the nutrients found in the organic material from which it was made. Carbon increases the soil’s ability to hold onto plant nutrients and beneficial soil microbes by slowing or reducing the leaching of nutrients by rain or watering.
The low density of charcoal lightens heavy soils, which allows better root growth, increasing drainage and allowing air into the soil. Charcoal works the same as agricultural lime to raise soil pH. This all-natural product increases soil levels of available calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
COMPOSTING AND WORM BINS
Last but not least, these two substances are also helpful in composting and worm bins.
Composting is a process that converts organically bound nitrogen to ammonium nitrate and ammonia, both of which are plant-accessible nutrients.
Methane and nitrous oxide are two greenhouse gases produced during the composting process. Scientists have concluded that both gases are more potent than carbon dioxide.
Zeolite has two methods of holding cations such as ammonium. The first method is by absorption, made possible by the mineral’s high surface area and porosity. The second method is by cation exchange.
Zeolite can sequester nitrates, sulphates, and hydrogen ions, which can prevent methane and nitrous oxide production during the composting process.
Addition of zeolite helps in following ways;
It absorbs escaping Nitrogen and thus helps in increasing the Nitrogen percentage in the final product.
It enables final product to absorb more water thus improving the water efficiency.
Bad odor can be absorbed with the help of Zeolites, thus making the process more hygienic.
Above points hold true for Worm bins as well. Zeolites are non-toxic to Worms.
For activated carbon’s part in composting the millions of tiny pores work like a sponge that can absorb certain toxins. Using activated charcoal in compost and garden soil is an effective way to neutralize certain chemicals, as the substance can absorb up to 200 times its own weight. It may also help staunch unpleasant aromas, including smelly compost.
In conclusion, you have spent a good amount of money on your Purrified Air filter media packs. Carbon and zeolite are expensive no matter where you get it. Here is a way you can re-purpose the stuff and double your value.