Peanut shells in compost

Uses of Peanut Shells

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If you love peanuts but have always thrown away the shells, you’ve been wasting a valuable resource. Peanut shells are used in the manufacture of soap, cosmetics, wallboard, plastics and linoleum, among other things. Scientist and educator George Washington Carver extolled the value of peanuts and their shells at the beginning of the 20th century. In the 21st century, scientists at Clark Atlanta University studied ways to use peanut shells to make hydrogen for fuel.

Compost and Mulch

Carver saw that peanut shells could replenish the soil in the south, which had been exhausted by cotton crops. They can do the same for your garden and lawn. If you use them as mulch, you don’t even need to grind them up. As they decompose they form nitrogen, a critical nutrient for gardening soil.

Homemade Kitty Litter

Some kitty litter manufacturers use peanut shells in their products. Soak them in water, add biodegradable dish soap, let them dry and sprinkle them with baking soda and you have kitty litter that’s much better for the environment than the chemically treated variety. If nothing else, a boxful of peanut shells will hold you over if you run out your regular brand and can’t make it to the pet store right away.


Peanut shells are extremely flammable; they are used to make some manufactured fireplace logs. If you have a wood-burning stove or a fireplace, sprinkle the shells over your wood to get a good blaze going quickly.

Packing Material

You’ll need a lot of them, of course, but it makes sense. Instead of buying Styrofoam packing peanuts, why not use the shells of the real things? You’ll also be helping the environment, as Styrofoam and plastic bubble wrap are not eco-friendly.

Eat Them

While the USDA does not recognize peanut shells as food, the National Peanut Board’s website assures readers that the shells are safe to eat–if not as tasty as the nuggets they contain. The chemical compositions vary by the type of peanut and how it’s shelled, but for the most part they are a good source of fiber and don’t contain anything harmful.

Do Peanut Shells Make Good Mulch or Compost?

Q. What do you think of peanut hulls as mulch? A local plant that makes peanut products gives them away. I used them last year in my garden and they were effective at controlling weeds (though I did get a few volunteer peanut plants); and they don’t seem to carry any disease. What will they add or take away from the soil? Enjoy your show greatly,

    —Rick in Box Springs, GA (near Columbus)

Do you think peanut hulls, which are available in my area, both whole or ground up, would be a better or worse mulch than wood chips? Thanks for your help!

    —Michelle in the very southeastern corner of Alabama (Daleville)

This will be my third year trying to be a successful tomato grower. I am making compost according to your instructions and don’t use any chemical fertilizers. A gardening friend has told me that decomposed peanut hulls make an excellent compost for tomatoes. Is this true? It seems to me that the peanut hulls would be similar to wood chips or bark and “wood” (pardon my pun) therefore be a No-No. Thank you for your program and all your advice,

    —Stan in Phoenix City AL (100 miles southwest of Atlanta)

I am a novice gardener and would like to know if large quantities of peanut hulls would be desirable for garden mulch or as compost ingredients. A potential source is nearby and I noticed that peanut hulls were listed as an ingredient in a tomato container mix I used successfully years ago. Thank you for all your great info; I currently support two public radio stations!

    —Christopher in York, PA (West of the Susquehanna and North of the Mason-Dixon Line)

A. As I expressed out loud on a recent show, I had a nagging thought that someone had warned me something about peanut shells. Luckily we didn’t need to trust my memory any further than that, as I can file with the best of them and quickly found the references that our unsurpassed unpaid fact-finding fanatic Charles Younger sent me last September.

Following the reference trails, I found many extension agents repeating the same warning—don’t use peanut shells as a MULCH in the South as they can harbor Southern blight and other fungal diseases and may contain {quote} “nematodes”, which could only in this circumstance refer to the nasty Southern root-knot nematode and not the beneficial nematodes we good little organic gardeners rely on for controlling grub, flea and other pest problems.

NOW, all of the warnings I found are suspiciously identical to each other; and one of the delicate dances I have to do every day is try and evaluate whether warnings like this mean ‘it’s likely to happen’ (as in wood and bark mulches breeding nuisance fungi) or ‘it could theoretically happen’ (and extension agents often feel an obligation to cite every bad thing that could possibly happen). BUT several of the extension articles also linked to longer articles on Southern blight that had photos of the disease and I would not wish such detestation on anyone.

Luckily, all of the references I’ve found—and an article we did on locally available bulk organic matter in ORGANIC GARDENING magazine back in ’94—recommend peanut shells as an excellent compost pile ingredient. And so I say to organic gardeners North and South, East and West: Compost your peanut shells!

Original research we did at the magazine also found that (probably because they’re a legume), peanut hulls are surprisingly Nitrogen rich. They’re also brown as opposed to green, which even I find confusing (welcome to my world, kids—you try and figure this stuff out!), so I’m going to punt here and just say to shred them well, wet them down and mix them up with a lot of other raw ingredients. But no matter what, they shouldn’t do anything bad as a compost pile component.

Now we get to mulch. Rick in the wonderfully named “Box Springs, Georgia” (which must lie just underneath the town of Mattress, GA) notes in his email (which, like most of your emails, asks the relative wisdom of something you’ve already done) that he saw no disease problems using a peanut shell mulch, strongly implying that he had seen the same warnings. The fact that you tried something and nothing bad happened the first year is no guarantee of its wisdom, and I can’t get those blight pictures out of my mind. So it is with some regret that I suggest our Southern listeners compost their shells and find another mulch—like the finished peanut hull-containing compost, which all sources agree is no longer suspect.

And what of our listener in York, PA—who even points out that he is North of the Mason-Dixon line? (But not by much, I’ll note here.) Some of the extension warnings about mulch specify that they only apply to the South; so can he use his locally available bulk peanut shells as a mulch?

I might. They are nitrogen rich and not all carbon, so they will cause none of the problems of wood mulch and sawdust, like plant starvation and nuisance molds. And the fungal diseases they might harbor are not a problem in a Northern climate. Now, is it impossible for them to occur in the North? Heck, no; you get a summer as hot and wet as they get in St. Louis or Al-bama and spores are spores. But they wouldn’t overwinter; they’d be a one-season problem.

So I just might use them as a mulch—above that Mason-Dixon line, of course.

Why I Eat Peanuts With the Shell On

Francesco Carta fotografo/Getty Images

Peanut shells have a number of practical uses, at least according to the website

of the National Peanut Board. You can, for one, repurpose them as mulch or kitty litter. In lieu of salt, you can scatter crushed peanut shells over a slick sidewalk come wintertime. Formed into briquettes, they can serve as an alternative to charcoal. You can also use peanut shells to pack fragile items.

Easy never tasted so awesome.

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Me, I like to eat them.

Not alone, of course, but with the peanut inside. I don’t know exactly when it was that I started eating peanuts with the shell on, but I have been doing it for quite some time now, at least for the past 15 years. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

RECIPE: Classic Boiled Peanuts

That may sound strange to those of you who regard the peanut shell as off-putting and perhaps even inedible. Most people who have witnessed me eating peanuts whole have either shuddered in revulsion or wondered incredulously if I am actually serious.

I am serious, alright. I like to pop the peanut into my mouth, husk and all, for a bunch of reasons.

A few are practical. For one, eating the peanut whole saves time and makes no mess. Also, it requires very little work and is a lot less frustrating than the tedious process of cracking open one peanut shell after another. I realize that such mindless repetition may be soothing for some, but I have always found it annoying: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fumbled over a shell trying to pry loose the nut inside. Eating it shell and all, you never lose the legume.

Then there are the gustatory reasons. I simply like the way the shell tastes when it is accompanied by the peanut—and particularly when the shell is salted. I have never understood why anybody would care whether or not a whole peanut is salted or unsalted, unless they are going to eat the shell. The peanut inside is going to taste the same either way, it seems to me. But when you eat a salted shell, it is like an explosion of sodium. It’s not for everyone, but I like it. (Unsalted shells have their own earthy appeal, but in my opinion are not as good.)

WATCH: How To Make Classic Peanut Brittle

Finally, I enjoy the texture of the bite. When you pop a whole peanut into your mouth, first you get the crunch and then you hit the smooth nut inside. It’s a kind of reward for having gotten past the hard exterior, which would not be appealing on its own.

I should add that I do not eat whole peanuts all the time. It’s not as if I am mainlining shells every chance I get. But on certain occasions—parties, baseball games, at bars—I do enjoy whole peanuts.

I have never met anyone else who eats them this way, and perhaps there are good reasons for that. Peanut shells do not aid digestion, to say the least. I have read that peanut shells may contain pesticides. They are quite dry. And really, there is not much nutritional value to a peanut shell.

Still, I am sure there are others out there. The National Peanut Board, for its part, endorses this somewhat unconventional snack.

And if you haven’t tried eating a peanut whole, I would suggest giving it a shot at least once. Should you dislike it, you can always remove the shell and save it for your litter box or sidewalk.

Should peanut shells be composted?

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The total nitrogen increased in proportion to the peanut shell compost used. This may have been due to the increased nitrogen provided by composted peanut shells rather than peat. Grigatti et al. (2007) reported increasing nitrogen in pot cultivation beds by adding manure compost to the soil rather than peat. The nitrogen of cultivated beds was at a sufficient level for plant growth according to Nappi and Barberis (1993). The phosphorus decreased in proportion to the compost used (Grigatti et al. 2007). The highest and the lowest phosphorus for growth media was related to the control and the 100 % treatment with peanut shell compost, respectively. The phosphorus levels for composted peanut shells were higher than for peat, but the available P of compost treatments decreased. It appeared that microorganisms had converted mineral P to organic P during organic matter mineralization, thereby temporarily decreasing the availability of phosphorus (Mohammadi Tarkashvand et al. 2005). Grigatti et al. (2007) and Prez-Murcia et al. (2006) also reported a decrease in phosphorus of growth media containing green waste compost and sewage sludge. Meanwhile, there occurred a nutrient concentration and C/N ratio change during the growth of plants and decomposition of organic matter in beds. Logakanthi et al. (2006) reported that the C/N ratio of vegetable waste was reduced by 69 % during composting, along with the consumption of 50 % phosphorus by fungal species. Peanut shell compost increased the potassium levels of media in proportion to the compost used compared to the control (Grigatti et al. 2007). The amount of potassium in peanut shell compost was 50 times more than in peat, leading to an increase in the medium’s potassium level.

The higher nitrogen and lower carbon levels of peanut shell compost compared to peat caused a decrease in the C/N ratio of compost treatments (Gayasinghe et al. 2010). This ratio was lower than the allowed level, which is suitable for growing ornamental plants. Davidson et al. (1994) reported that the C/N ratio of ideal compost was lower than 20 for growth of plants. A C/N ratio of more than 30 may cause problems for plant growth (Zucconi et al. 1981). The pH values of the cultivation beds were at the optimum range for culturing ornamental plants, so according to Abad et al. (2001) the appropriate pH for desirable growth was determined as 5.3–6.5.

Some favorable factors in terms of beauty such as the size and appearance of the plant are the main criteria for determining ornamental plants’ tolerance to salinity. The maximum allowed salinity level of saturation extract for Dracaena is 6–8 dS/m (Alizadeh 1999). Therefore, it is possible that salinity may cause some problems in the growth of plants with higher compost level. Grigatti et al. (2007) found that the pH and EC of cultivation beds increased by adding 25–100 % v/v green waste compost instead of peat to cultivation beds.

A comparison of the control treatment with a nutrient solution with compost treatments, but without a nutrient solution indicated that growth indices in the control treatment were approximately the same with compost treatments and without a nutrient solution. The growth of Dracaena includes height, leaf number, dry leaf weight and dry stem weight, which in 15, 30, 45 and 60 % compost were higher than in the control and in 100 % peanut shell compost. It seems that the impact of peanut shell compost occurs due to the presence of humic materials; thus, Chen et al. (1989) claimed that the impact of compost on Ficus benjamina growth may be similar to the role of growth regulators in plant. The growth of plants decreased significantly in the 100 % peanut shell compost treatment due to the large number of pores and a decrease in water-holding capacity. Pool and Conover (1991) also reported the weak growth of dracaena grown in organic beds with a high pore presence and low water-holding capacity. The growth of dracaena in the control bed was low, so indexes such as leaf number and dry stem and leaf weight in this treatment showed no significant difference compared to 100 % treatment with peanut shell compost. This may be due to the large C/N ratio in the control bed and the decreased need for nitrogen of the plant, compared to the 15, 30, 45 and 60 % treatments with peanut shell compost. Gayasinghe et al. (2010) used manure compost (CMC) and synthetic compounds (SA) as an alternative to peat in cultivating Tagetes paluta and concluded that plant height, the number of flowers for each plant, the dry and fresh weights of stems, root length and dry and fresh weights of roots increased in the combined treatment using 40 % SA and 60 % v/v CMC.

The nutrient concentration in dracaena leaves was within the presented range as shown by Denis et al. (2003), denoting the effectiveness of nutrient range for plant growth. Lack of significant potassium level changes in treatments using peanut shell compost may be due to a higher yield of dry leaf matter in these treatments, compared to the control. In fact, potassium uptake occurred in plants, but the higher yield of plants and the dilution effect indicated no observable difference from the control. Additionally, in most cases, concentration variations did not follow from the values of these elements in the cultivation beds. In terms of nutrient concentration in plant organs, these depended on different factors such as plant growth, ionic competition and deposition; therefore, sometimes it is impossible to use nutrient concentrations in plants as a reliable parameter for assessing plant growth. The impact of nutrient dilution resulting in additional yields can also give rise to confusion. In this regard, nutrient uptake by plants from growth media is considered a more reliable parameter.

Increasing the amount of peanut shell compost (less than 60 %) caused an increase in nitrogen uptake by plants when compared with the control; this may have been due to the decomposed organic material in the substrate medium and as a result of increasing the amount of available nitrogen to plants. Increasing peanut shell compost caused a decrease in the C/N ratio when compared with the control. This process was also reported by Oworu et al. (2010), so an increase in the uptake of nitrogen by the plant was observed when compost was added to the growth medium of an Amaranthus ornamental plant.

The increasing amount of peanut shell compost decreased phosphorus uptake in leaves in comparison to the control (compost more than 15 %). It appears that microorganisms converted mineral P to organic P during organic matter mineralization, thereby temporarily decreasing the availability of phosphorus (Mohammadi Tarkashvand et al. 2005). The lowest phosphorus uptake was obtained in the 45 % compost treatment. This may have been due to the dilution effect, because of the larger size of the plant and a decreasing P concentration. Grigatti et al. (2007) also reported a decrease of phosphorus uptake by mimulus and salvia plants in beds containing green waste compost and sewage sludge when compared with controls (white peat).

Increasing K uptake in compost treatments is due to an increase in the availability of potassium in media by addition of peanut shell compost. Calcium uptake increased in compost treatments due to the higher yield of these treatments, compared to the control. The decrease in Ca uptake in the 100 % compost treatment was due to the lower yield of plant than in the control. Manganese uptake increased in 15 % compost and then decreased in other treatments of peanut shell compost in proportion to the applied compost. This increase was due to the higher yield of plants when compared with the control, while the subsequent decrease was due to the decreasing Mn concentration in leaves (Mn concentration in leaves was 258.1, 204.2, 74.2, 53.7, 32.2 and 32.1 mg/kg, respectively, in the control and 15, 30, 45, 60 and 100 % of plants with peanut shell compost). Magnesium uptake decreased in compost treatments compared to the control, whereas it increased in the 100 % compost treatment. This may have been due to ionic competition and the interaction effect between Ca and Mg. The increase of Fe uptake in 30 and 60 % compost treatments, compared to the control, was due to the higher yield of plants with these treatments. The highest zinc uptake was observed for the 60 % compost treatment, which may have been due to the higher concentration of Zn in the shoots of plants compared to other treatments (58.21 mg/kg).

How to Compost Peanut Shells

Peanut shells are a great addition to a home compost pile. They provide a good source of fibrous woody matter that can break down in the compost pile and act as a carbonaceous agent. Composting is simply the product of controlled biological decomposition of organic material, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board. It is the control part that you need to understand when it comes to adding things like peanut shells to your compost pile.

Crush the shells by placing them on a flat surface and walking on them. This action will help start the process of breaking them down into soil. If you have a large amount of shells you wish to compost, you can do them in stages. Sweep them up into a bucket.

Cover the crushed shells in water. They will try to float but add enough water so that they can move around freely. Soak them for at least twelve hours or overnight. You can leave them for a few days for even better water absorption.

Drain the shells and add them to your compost pile. Since they act as a carbonaceous element and you want a healthy ratio of 25:1 of nitrogen to carbon materials, you will need to add a thin layer of nitrogenous material like grass clippings or kitchen scraps.

Turn the pile by mixing it up with a garden fork every few weeks to introduce air into the middle of the pile. If it seems dry and there is no change, add more greens. If it is stinky and wet, add more brown material, like crushed peanut shells.

Peanut Shell Pellet Equipment

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Peanut shell is one main byproduct of the peanut processing factories, the peanut shell could be used in many different fields, the peanut shell pellet products can be customized to be the nutritional feeds and fuel pellets.

Peanut Shell Peanut Shell Powder

Peanut Shell Pellet Briquettes or Pellets

The peanut shell is one of the best feed making raw material sources in modern stock husbandry, if not used as feeds, it is also suitable to be made into pellet fuels for house fireplaces and industrial biomass stoves, according to the industrial application of peanut shell, 3 kilograms of residual oil could be produced out of 100 kilograms of peanut shell, the residual oil is a perfect matter for soap production, the byproducts are high value matters like alcohol, aldehyd and activated carbon, after certain chemical treatments, it could be used to make stick, high quality furniture and other wooden tools. 15 kg gum could be produced out of 50 peanut shells, it could be used in high quality plywood productions.

How to use peanut shell for making feed pellet or fuel pellet — Pellet Mill

Pellet mill adopts new craft of extrusion pelletization and polishing forming, with features of high output, low consumption and easy operation, which can be used for producing the organic fertilizer, feed, wood pellet etc. The finished product has uniform size, bright surface, high density with good liquidity. The same type pellet mill can used for produce both of fuel pellet and feed pellet, what you need to do is replacing the proper die only according to the actual raw material situation.

Making peanut shell fuel pellets or briquettes

Mechanical Stamping Briquette Machine(Screw Conveyor)

AGICO is one peanut shell pellet equipment manufacturer in China(main land), if you want to know the capacity and other details of pellet equipment, post an email now!

φ8mm Pellets φ70mm Sticks Rice Husk Made Rod
Cotton Straw Made Rod Eucalyptus Skin Made Rod Sawdust Made Rod

Good gardeners rarely throw anything away.. So, while I was munching and building up a huge pile of peanut shells, I thought of google-ing (we Indians have a thing for “-ing” isn’t it) the nutrient content of peanut shells to see if they could benefit the soil in any manner. Turns out, Peanut Shells have decent uses for plants & in the garden, not as fertilizer but definitely as a homemade organic mulch, among others.
Are you piling up peanut calories in winters? I sure am! BUT I’m piling up the peanut shells too.. For my garden of course!


Turned out, nutrient wise they are just OK so I decided to concentrate on texture instead. After a few rounds in the grinder (that I use more to whip up stuff for the garden, than the fridge) I had some crushed peanut shells ready to be tested in the soil.


Simply layer coarsely ground peanut shells as a mulch, specially in containers to control small weeds. Works really well to neaten up the look too, instantly!




Peanut shells fluff up the soil allowing roots to breathe better and penetrate quickly leading to vigorous growth.


For hanging planters or those cannot have very heavy soil, adding peanut shells in a good ratio (approx 30%) lightens the load significantly.


For places with long dry summers, water retention is a boon, specifically for small or terracotta planters. Peanut shells do not interfere with proper drainage yet help keep the soil moist longer.


If you are tired of hard clayey soil, adding ground peanut shells breaks down the hard clumps and helps the texture immensely.
While I was writing this, I realized, the uses of peanut shells are very very similar to cocopeat, but they come free with some peanuts and calories 😛


Peanut shells contain only a tiny amount of NPK i.e. nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. They do not contribute significantly to plant health directly, but indirectly but helping improve the soil texture and dampness.

*I’ve made all these observations on the geranium planter I added it to, which does need to be watered less than the others, now that the weather is heating up a bit. For colder areas and less sunshine, use peanut shells with caution as it might cause rot and fungus due to excessive water.

If you have used peanut shells for soil or plants, do share your observations and experiences.

Here’s a quick tip to PIN

Till then,



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David Mantey Jun 07, 2018


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Athyron is a Texas-based manufacturer that is one-of-a-kind.

Athyron CEO Alfredo Faubel recently reached out to me because like Humanscale, the company making office chairs out of old fishing nets, and Purdue University, which is using recycled plastic to build a better battery, Athyron wants to be a part of the solution.

Anywhere from 3.5 to 7 billion trees are cut down each per year, and 8 million metric tons of plastic wind up in the ocean every year.

Using patented, proprietary technology, the company created the Miura Board, a product the company says is the most durable, 100%-recycled alternative to wood.

Athyron sources its raw materials from recycling companies and not from post-consumer municipal recycling facilities. The company can use any polyolefins (HDPE, LDPE, PP, etc.) alone or in combination (commingled). The company combines the material in a reactor with natural or synthetic fibers, such as rice and peanut hulls or nylon. The material is then extruded, cooled and cut into planks. The rice and peanut hulls are abundant agricultural byproducts and the nylon is sourced from recycled carpet.

The product’s name, Miura, is taken from Spain’s fiercest fighting bulls, but according to Faubel, the technology was developed in Brazil by a German inventor. The boards have been in use in Brazil and Argentina for more than a decade.

The boards don’t absorb water, they are a natural insulator and sound barrier, and they are immune to termites. They don’t rot, and the material is reusable. So, if you have a couple of pallets made with Miura that you’re not using anymore, the company will recycle them into new planks to be used in other applications, like boardwalks, lawn furniture, doors, or anything that might stand to benefit from a bit more water resistance.

When I asked Faubel why he makes Miura Board, he said, “While most people see plastic waste we see wasted plastic. The difference lies in the approach. We see the use of recycled materials as the ideal means to conserve natural resources while extending the useful life of man-made materials.”

And just look at the guy, have you ever seen a man so excited to be surrounded by garbage? Part of the solution.

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