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Thread: Projek Cinta: Bedding for worms - is paper safe?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Projek Cinta: Bedding for worms - is paper safe?

    Brian Donaldson i'll give you the full answer - but what youre doing is ok, if you're happy with it, continue - no harm done to anyone else.

    Answer #25: "What Sort Of Paper And Cardboard Can I Use In The Worm Farm? Can I Use Bleached/Office Paper, In The Worm Farm, And What About The Toners And Inks":

    (Also see Answer # 25A: "Is newspaper and cardboard ok to use - what about the inks and bleaches" - the more detailed answer)
    (Also see Answer # 25B: "What's in toner used for printing on office paper - do I have to worry about BPA's - is it all bad news? - the more detailed answer)

    (The Simple Answer)

    Simply, the best paper is unbleached paper printed with soy ink - good old newspaper.

    The best cardboard is the fluted kind, brown not glossy, it is held together with corn starch glue.

    In regards to white/bleached/office paper - I think these days the bleach thing is negligible, there's a more technical answer following this. It came from a discussion where a member has worked in the paper making field, and another from a guy about toner in office paper who is an expert in that field.

    What people say is that office paper - again the bleach, if its a problem - limits the bacteria that can colonise in the paper, limiting the worms, as they survive on the bacteria.

    Others say that the white paper, or too much of it, can make your castings look greyish - nothing WRONG with them, they just look a little light collared.

    Some also say that it takes longer to break down.

    Some think laser printer toner is not such a good thing, if the papers come from an office that uses one - and most do afaik (whereas INKS are usually soy based these days, but toner is a type of plastic)

    I'm a fan of newspaper, brown fluted cardboard and aged grass clippings. You don't HAVE to shred the newspaper, you can just tear it into strips by hand - for the average worm head, half an hour in front of the TV doing so should make enough to last weeks/months.

    Answer # 25A: "Is newspaper and cardboard ok to use - what about the inks and bleaches"
    (the more detailed answer)

    Indra Gunawan said

    " For the paper:

    1. White paper, most of the bleach used now is H2O2 (at least in developed country, it is also here in Indonesia) where little to nothing is left in the pulp, let alone after the paper making process. There are some additions to make the paper "nice", but the majority will be calcium carbonate now (it used to be clay), the rest of the chemical is so minute that I would be surprise if it is of any dangerous concentration after it went through the composting process and through the growing of the plant. No, I think it will be pretty safe.

    2. Newspaper, which are a mixture of recycle pulp and ground pulp, which will contain even more stuff for the original trees. Less chemical as well. So, it should be pretty safe as well.

    I am not sure about inks that is used, as I worked as papermaker, not as a printer. "

    Indra Gunawan Also said

    "The coating used for glossy (the correct term for shiny) paper are either calcium carbonate or clay (and yes, bentonite). There are some chemicals additives but most of the coating are just that." (Brian's comment: note calcium carbonate is a PH buffer similar to garden lime)

    Brian said " The glue in the fluted CB is said to be corn starch - the worms love this CB
    Newspaper is known to have little bleach, unlike office paper.

    Inks nowadays are supposed to be soy based (although I've read toner from laser printers i.e. office paper may be not so good)
    I heard they made the change as there was complaints about all the bad stuff in paper going into landfill.

    CB and NP are accepted good bedding for worms, especially if also using something with good microbe counts (like manure, but I don't like using it) or for instance old grass/leaves. GL "

    Answer # 25B: "What's in toner used for printing on office paper - do I have to worry about BPA's - is it all bad news? - the more detailed answer

    Nicholas Slodki said
    " . . I've been in the chemical scientific field for 13 years, and particularly 5 years of that in laser printer materials engineering and manufacturing process development.

    Lexmark, Canon, HP and Zerox had already removed BPA from any of their processes at least for the terminal hardware in laser printers as early as 2006 because of their European and US markets. BPA is not necessary for melt-fusing polystyrene and is not used at all in acrylic synthesis . . . .many of these plastics can be broken down by fungus.


    BPA is not used in toner. Toner is only "electrically sensitive" when it is charged up on the toner adder role in the printing unit. Once it is fused to paper, it doesn't matter. All of that process is just using the phenomenon known as tribocharging, which is basically what happens when you rub a balloon on your hair and it sticks.
    BPA is used in thermal receipt paper, but it is not necessarily stable around many fungi.

    This is not a scientific paper, but a write-up on the electrophotography (laser printing) process, and particularly a deep-enough discussion on the components of toner: You could eat the stuff right out of the reactor vessel. They keep it very clean and add biocide at the time they pack it into cartridges to keep fungi and bacteria from mucking it up.

    . . . and some fungus could possibly eat down polystyrene. I don't know about acrylic, but polystyrene, polyetherterephthalate (PET), and the highly biodegradable form of PET-like polymer called polylactide (corn plastic) would all get digested into harmless form, eventually, by fungal organisms in the Pleurotus genus. I'll have to look up papers on this stuff, as it's relatively new.
    Last edited by pywong; 28th March 2016 at 05:48 AM.

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