Can You Sterilize The Soil With Boiling Water?

Can You Sterilize The Soil

To ensure your plants are thriving, healthy soil is quite essential. Frankly, the importance of soil is not talked about enough. Naturally sterilizing soil with boiling water is another thing many beginners are not aware of.

They wonder if this should be done and how. If you do enjoy gardening, or you are new to it, there is going to come a time when you have to plant new plants or seeds in the soil and this is why you have to learn about sterilizing the soil.

Yes, you can sterilize your soil with boiling water. Sterilizing with boiling water which is also called steaming is one of the best ways to sterilize potting soil. Simply place the amount of soil you plan to use into a bowl and pour boiling water on it then leave it to get moistened, next work it around with a spoon. This process helps get rid of any insect and their eggs in the soil.

Unwanted fungal problems are quite unavoidable in some soil types and this is when sterilizing comes in. It can be pretty exhausting to get new potting soil every time you want to plant new plants, so you can rather sterilize it to rid it of seeds and reduce some unwanted pathogens.

There are still a good number of people who are confused as to why they have to sterilize their soil or what the process entails. Healthy soils are essential if you want a pest-free garden and complete control of weeds as well. Stick around to learn what soil sterilization is and if you can sterilize soil with boiling water.


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What is Soil Sterilization?

Soil sterilization is a chemical and physical process that involves eliminating or reducing some soil organisms such as insects, soil-borne pests, pathogens, and weeds as well. Sterilizing your soil plays a critical role in the health of your plants and soil. This is regarded as a control method, and it can affect lots of organisms that are meant to be in your soil.

There are two methods of sterilization which includes chemical and physical sterilization. The physical method involves sterilizing with steam or solar energy while the chemical process means using herbicides and fumigants.

The common method is the physical method and the chemical control method is used less frequently.

Can You Sterilize The Soil With Boiling Water?

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You can sterilize your potting soil with boiling water. This process is cheaper, and it is sufficient to kill any soil pathogens, bacteria, and viruses that can cause you to lose your plants. Boiling water is effective enough to kill bacteria in water hence getting rid of items in the soil shouldn’t be any hassle either.

Sterilizing the soil with boiling water isn’t exactly perfect, but it saves you from losing your plant or buying new potting soil. For the boiling water soil sterilization to be successful, you have to boil the water for 20 minutes.

There is also the method of double freezing the soil first before boiling it which can also make sure the soil has no insect or fungal pathogens that can affect the plants.

Boiling is a great method of disinfection and heating to a high temperature of 100 degrees C will kill most of the organisms or pathogens and any virus that can cause waterborne diseases. It is common knowledge that heat kills germs so yes, you can sterilize soil with boiling water.

How to Sterilize Soil With Boiling Water

The logic behind sterilizing soil with boiling water is to have it prepped for any plant or new seed you are sowing in it, it makes it safer and leave it fresh for your new plants.

It doesn’t matter if the potting soil is new, if it is from an unreliable source then it is best to have it sterilized with boiling water. Boiling water as a form of soil disinfectant is still new to a lot of people so, here are two right ways to sterilize with boiling water.

1. Steam With Boiling Water

The steaming with boiling water is effective enough to get rid of germs and pathogens. This process should help get rid of any unwanted germs in your soil mix and the stove and a pot are all you need for this.

  • Fill the pot with enough water and put the soil inside
  • Ensure the water is enough to have some floating on the top of the soil
  • Bring the water to a boil, and it doesn’t have to show bubbles to indicate high temperature, high steam is enough
  • Let it boil for 30 minutes before bringing it down to cool completely.

2. Pour Boiling Water Over the Soil

You can’t simply pour boiling water over potting soil and hope for the best. So, here is another way to sterilize soil with boiling water.

  • Bring water to boil slowly on a stove, many substrates can soak lots of water so make sure you are boiling enough
  • Put the soil in a bucket
  • Next, pour the boiling water over the soil, ensure it is completely saturated
  • Work the wet soil around with a spoon or any other appropriate tool
  • Cover the soil with a metal lid or aluminum foil and leave it for 30 minutes to an hour.

Some gardeners freeze the soil for at least 5 days before using the boiling method to sterilize it. This method is quite effective in getting rid of insects and stubborn pathogens.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What chemical is used to sterilize soil?

Chemical soil sterilization might not be common, but it is effective. The most common chemical used to sterilize soil is Formalin which is a mixture of water and formaldehyde. It is used in sterilizing any outdoor soil, and it does eliminate fungus but does not affect gnats.

How do you sterilize soil in raised beds?

To sterilize soil in raised beds, set heat-proof containers on the rack above the water and with 4 inches of soil placed in each container. Cover the container with aluminum foil and to prevent the steam from building up, crack it slightly. Allow the water to boil for 30 minutes before steaming the soil with it.

Does sterilizing soil remove nutrients?

No, sterilizing shouldn’t remove any nutrient from your soil rather it is meant to remove any impurities and fungus. However, some methods can reduce the nutrients in the soil which include the use of an oven. The best way to keep your soil healthy and retain nutrients is to sterilize using steam and replenish the nutrients lost by adding a dose of slow-release fertilizer pellets.

Wrapping Up

While some potting soil might seem okay to use again, there is still no harm in sterilizing it to ensure it is completely safe. Note that boiling water is not the only physical type of way you can sterilize potting soil, although it’s the most common and easiest.

Other effective sterilization methods include; Using an oven, using the microwave, or simply steaming it.

Even fresh potting soil isn’t entirely safe from fungus gnats, nematodes, or some nasty little pests so sterilizing with boiling water can help eradicate all these unwanted organisms.


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