Monday, October 3, 2011

Water Glass

In the early days of our homesteading, off-grid, survivalist journey, we found Carla Emery's "Encyclopedia of Country Living".  It was folksy, intriguing and immanently practical.  It was from her book that we learned to butcher our first cow and properly cut up a chicken.  We read of her ups and downs with rapt attention and took great joy in driving through the country she roamed in and wrote of.

When we moved to "Little Shouse on the Prairie" her book became our favored reading material, second only to the Bible.  As we embraced our new off-grid life, we looked to Carla for advice and wisdom.

One of the most pressing challenges of life with no electricity was the lack of refrigeration.  Having no root cellar, basement or otherwise cool place to store perishables, we resorted to a cooler and copious amounts of ice.  A cooler is remarkably limited in capacity when using for day to day refrigeration and ice can become expensive when used as the only source of cooling.  In an effort to preserve perishable food without the aid of refrigeration, I turned to my trusty companion, "The Encyclopedia of Country Living".

Eggs, being bulky and easily broken, became the subject of my research.  Our hens were laying nicely and we had eggs in excess.  My concern was that we were not eating them fast enough and they were requiring refrigeration.  And to compound my concerns, I knew that the hens would stop laying with the darker days and then I would be without fresh eggs all winter and would have to resort to powdered eggs (which didn't make very nice omelets).

I wrote directions on the top of my jar
As I poured over the pages of Mrs. Emery's book, I discovered Water Glass (also known as Sodium Silicate).  It is an age old, time tested way to store eggs over the winter.  Water Glass is a sealant, commonly used to seal cement, but also used to seal egg shells.  Depriving the porous egg shells of oxygen slows the rate of spoilage, making water glass and effective method of egg preservation. It is found in most hardware stores and some drug stores.

Pouring the Water Glass over the eggs
(you can mix the water and Water Glass before
adding it to the eggs)
Adding water
Gently stirring
A lovely jar of preserved eggs
Using Water Glass, I safely stored our summer eggs all winter.  I put up three (1) gallon jars, used them as fresh eggs throughout the winter (I put them up in October), and lost about 10 eggs to spoilage by the next June.  The Water Glassed eggs were perfect for scrambled eggs, and when they were only a few months old, for fried eggs.  After three months, the yolks flattened to the point they were not appetizing as fried eggs, but they were still quite suitable for scrambling.  Because we didn't have an unlimited amount of "fresh" eggs, I used powdered eggs for all of my baking needs.  The last 10 eggs were starting to stick to the inside of the shell and had a slightly unpleasant aroma, so I figured they were past the edibility.

Over the winter, the egg shells do become somewhat soft.  In reality, I think that Water Glass is a great method of storing eggs "for fresh use" during the winter, out of your excess summer eggs.  Much longer than eight months and I think all of the eggs would have "turned".

The FDA warns strongly against using Water Glass as an egg storage method.  In fact, the later versions of Carla Emery's book don't mention Water Glass at all.  You will have to decide for your family if it will work for you, but we found it a quite acceptable egg storage technique.


  1. Enola, you and your family must be feeling pretty good again. So glad!

    Fascinating! I love eggs and have been wondering how to preserve some. I have a couple of questions: 1)Is there any special procedure before using them? IOW, should they be rinsed in tap water first or their shells dried first (so the Water Glass solution won't get into the eggs themselves) before cracking them open? 2)What objection does the FDA have to this procedure? (Not that I particularly care what the FDA says.)

    I have read recently that OvaEggs Whole Egg Crystals are a longterm (5yrs) storage food with good reviews. Apparently they are pretty good for scrambling, omelettes, and recipes. Can't wait to try them. (I am not associated with this product in any way.)

    NoCal Gal

  2. What do you do to your eggs prior to storage (e.g., clean/wipe)?

  3. Hello Enola,
    Do you wash your eggs or just rinse them? I purchase UN-washed eggs from friends and stored them on my counter and used them (FIFO rotation) for 2 - 3 months. I didn't have any that went bad. This was in a post on a few favorite breakfasts.

    I will have to try the Water Glass for this winter and compare the two methods.

  4. Enola -

    We're getting chickens in the spring and I'm hopeful that by this time next year I'll have an egg surplus. I was planning on using the waterglass solution but I hadn't heard that the FDA warns against it. Do you have a link that gives more information about their warning? I'd like to read up on it so I can make an informed decision. Thanks.

  5. Enola,
    I continue to pray to God for your family's rapid return to recovery and good health.

    We have used the water glass method with about the same measure of success as what you describe.
    the FDA warns against any product used in food processing that can cause any adverse side effects.

    Here is some MSDS info on waterglass, also known as isinglass.

    and enter in Sodium silicate on the query

    Product Identification
    Synonyms: Water Glass; Soluble Glass; Silicate of Soda; Egg Preserver

    Chemical Formula: Na2O(SiO2)x.(H2O)x

    2. Composition/Information on Ingredients
    Sodium Silicate 1344-09-8 35 - 40% Yes
    Water 7732-18-5 60 - 65% No
    3. Hazards Identification Emergency Overview
    Health Rating: 2 - Moderate
    Flammability Rating: 1 - Slight
    Reactivity Rating: 1 - Slight
    Contact Rating: 3 - Severe
    Diluted solutions of sodium silicate are strong alkaline irritants. The solid sodium silicate is corrosive. Exposure to alkaline corrosives may result in severe burns depending on the concentration and duration of exposure.
    Sodium silicate is a type of amorphous silica and does not cause pulmonary silicosis.
    A strong alkaline irritant. Inhalation can cause severe irritation of mucous membranes and upper respiratory
    tract. Symptoms may include burning sensation, coughing, wheezing, laryngitis, shortness of breath, headache,
    nausea and vomiting. High concentrations may cause lung damage.
    A strong alkaline irritant. Causes irritation to the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Solid sodium silicate: Alkaline corrosive ingestion may produce burns to the lips, tongue, oral mucosa, upper airway,esophagus and occasionally stomach.
    Skin Contact:
    A strong alkaline irritant. Causes severe irritation. Symptoms include redness, itching and pain. Dries to form a glass film which can cut skin. Solid sodium silicate: Dermal contact with alkaline corrosives may produce pain,redness, severe irritation or full thickness burns.
    Eye Contact:
    A strong alkaline irritant. Alkaline eye exposures produce severe irritation with effects similar to those of dilute caustics. Inflammation or burns with possible damage to the eye tissues can occur together with tearing and considerable pain.
    Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions:
    Persons with pre-existing skin disorders impaired respiratory function may be more susceptible to the effects of the substance.
    4. First Aid Measures
    Remove to fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial respiration. If breathing isdifficult, give oxygen. Get medical attention.
    If swallowed, DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Give large quantities of water. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Get medical attention immediately.
    Skin Contact:
    Immediately flush skin with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes. Remove contaminated clothing and shoes. Get medical attention. Wash clothing before reuse. Thoroughly clean shoes before reuse.
    Eye Contact:
    Immediately flush eyes with plenty of water.

    On the issue of to wash the eggs, or not to, read this article from mother Earth news. they suggest no because it removes the eggs protective "bloom".


  6. Notutopia;

    Thank you so much! I think you handily answered everyones questions. I really appreciate the detailed specifics and the links. Thanks again!


  7. So now the eggs need one of those hazmat warning labels? LOL ;)

    Notutopia, you are always so helpful, thanks.

    NoCal Gal

  8. Isinglass!(That's what my grandmother called it). I'm surprised you can still get the stuff. Well, my grandparents ate eggs preserved this way for years,my grandmother lived to be 88,my grandfather was 90. Must not be too bad. I've seen warning labels on distilled water..

  9. You can also store them in plain old lard, which keeps the oxygen away from the eggs as well.

  10. I have a theory on the FDA thing and it's that they don't want anyone doing anything that might lead to a more self sufficient lifestyle. But that's just my 2 cents ;)

  11. BTW, You can save yourself a whole lot of silver by ordering this in case lots from the
    above site.
    It runs about 55.00 (in barter dollars), for a whole case. That's about 1/4th what you'll spend at a retailer.
    Consider splitting a case purchase with family members, neighbors, or Share some with friends, makes a great holiday present, or this could be a great barter item for your future prep need exchanges.

    Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with this company, nor receive anything from them for free.

    I store my insinglass prepared eggs in a large, non porous inner walled,(slick inside), double thick walled (for the insulation) crockware cylinder with a weighted down plate used for a lid (for chemical safety protection, removed and locked away from children and your animals. Keeping the solution out of the direct light,(dark,cool space), seems to help keep the solution from becoming too viscous (thickened)and opaque and my eggs store successfully about 2 months longer this way.
    Also, you cannot reuse the mixed solution. To dispose of it, mix 1/2 cup of vinegar in it, and you have essentially neutralized the solution to a base pH level and you can now dispose of it safely down the drain.


    1. Do not send it down the drain if you have a septic system. Even if it is neutralized with vinegar. The solution will cause havoc with the microbes digesting in the honey tank. Just thin out the solution with more water and dump out in a woods some where.

  12. Lehman's has it. Says it will preserve 50 dozen eggs. Who'd of thunk it?

  13. I read recently that hand rubbing a thin coating of vasoline on the outside of the egg will keep it for over six months, non-refrigerated. I'm testing this myself, and will get back to you in six months with the results.

  14. Thanks for the info! I am definitely going to get me some water glass for all of our eggs. I really hate to waste any.

    I use the "float test" for all of my eggs to test to see if they are still safe for eating. Put them in a bowl of water. If they float they are bad, and if they sink they are still good. Maybe that test would help with any doubts about the freshness? I've used that method for years, and it's never failed. :-)


  15. This is excellent information. Who cares what the FDA says! They also say that drinking raw milk is unsafe (and illegal in most cases) but that milk from cows treated with growth hormones is safe, as well as garbage meat scraps treated with ammonia (yum, right?!). We will definitely try the water glass method in the future.


  16. I put a thin coating of mineral oil on mine and they seem to hold up fine but I have only been doing this for about two months, but I sure save money when eggs go on sale.

  17. Prepper's guides mostly said simply coat the eggs with regular vegetable oil to seal them for storage for 3-6 months..