Who doesn’t like a slice of pizza? We eat pizzas, baked foods, and pastries at home. We love them. They are a good alternative for whole meals, and the basic ingredient for making these foods is flour, an ingredient that has been used for preparing different types of cuisines for a long time.
Flour is a powder produced by grinding roots, nuts, beans, seeds, or raw grains. The first production of flour dates back to 6000 BC, where wheat seeds were crushed to produce it.
However, the Romans were the first people to develop mills to grind seeds to produce flour. It wasn’t until 1779 that the first mill was constructed in London at the beginning of the Industrial Era.
To produce flour in ancient times, the grains were ground using stones and steel wheels. But with time, roller mills replaced stone gist mills, and there have been many technological developments in flour production. Now, with advanced technology, we can easily produce different flours.
Every day, the production of flour increases because the demand for fast food is on the rise. The number of people ordering pizza increases daily, and does not look like it will decline anytime soon. With this, a question arises, is flour harmful to the environment? Can you compost flour?
Let us find out!
Is Flour Compostable?
Yes, flour is compostable. You can put it in the compost bin; it will decay and fertilize the soil. There are more than ten types of flour: all-purpose flour, pastry flour, bread flour, cake flour, whole wheat flour, self-rising flour, white whole wheat flour, vital wheat gluten flour, bleached gluten-free flour, and sprouted flour. All these types of flour are compostable.
In the most straightforward terms, compostable items are items that microorganisms can break down. Think of them as items that are prone to decay. After these items decay, they become compost and fertilize the soil.
Flour has become a multi-purpose food ingredient used in different recipes. With its increased demand, different efficient methods of milling have been developed. As an environmental advocate, you want to know if flour can be composted as a disposal method.
And thankfully, it actually is!
But then, it’s worth noting that there are two types of compostable materials;
- Green materials
- Brown materials
The major difference is that green materials compost faster than brown materials. Flour is a brown material, so composting it will take a long time. However, you can speed up the process by adding green components, fruit peels, and vegetables to the compost pile.
To compost flour, you must do the following to prevent it from taking longer to break down:
- Avoid throwing a bag of flour into the compost pile. It is best to sprinkle it over the pile. Dumping an entire bag will thicken the flour and block airflow in the pile.
- Mix the flour well with other materials in the compost pile, ensuring you remove every clump and lump.
- Add green components to the pile to quicken the composting process. Microorganisms and bacteria are more attracted to green components, so adding them to the compost pile speeds up the composting of all the items.
- Ensure the flour is dry before you dump it in the compost pile. Wet flour compacts the compost pile and restricts the circulation of airflow, which aids the decomposition of the materials.
- Ensure the flour is not infested with weevil before dumping it in the pile.
Is Flour Good for the Soil?
Of course, flour is good for the soil. We mentioned earlier that it’s compostable, so as long as you follow the right composting procedures, it will increase the nutrients and fertility of the soil. However, if you dump the flour on the soil, it will clog the pores of the leaves, and they will die.
Flour contains protein (nitrogen), an essential compound for plant growth. When there’s a low nitrogen supply in the soil, plants cannot thrive and have low crop yields. But that doesn’t mean excess nitrogen is better. In fact, too much nitrogen in the soil is toxic to plants.
As such, you should consider the nitrogen balance of the soil before you dump flour into it. Too much flour in the soil can result in too much nitrogen, which is detrimental to the soil. So, if you want to add nitrogen to any soil, ensure the soil has a low nitrogen supply.
If you see a plant with yellow leaves instead of green during summer, you know the soil is low on nitrogen. Adding some flour compost can help balance the nitrogen cycle of that soil.
Everything must be balanced; our existence is largely based on the balance of the environment. With too much oxygen, the lung cells can be damaged, and too much carbon dioxide can result in health defects.
Can You Add Old Flour to a Worm Bin?
Yes, you can add flour to a worm bin, but sparingly. Flour is a good source of iron, protein, and other trace minerals, and worms will find it useful. Just ensure you do not add lots of flour to the worm bin.
A worm bin is a bin with holes for moisture and ventilation. Designed for placement indoors or outdoors, a worm bin is mainly made of plastic and is elevated off the ground so water can drain out the bottom.
Now, when adding flour to a worm bin, only work with a little at a time, as too floor can become big lumps that the worms may find impenetrable. The flour helps in vermicomposting (using worms to convert organic waste into a humus-like material, called vermin-compost).
In addition, ensure that you coat the surface and spray it with water to wet it. As long as the flour is slightly wet, it will not stick to the worm’s skin, making it easier for the worms to consume.
Does Flour Decompose?
Of course, flour decomposes. Every food material has a shelf life and will begin to rot and decompose once this time elapses. Self-rising flour and whole wheat flour begin decomposing after 4 to 6 months. All-purpose flour can last a year at room temperature and two years in the refrigerator. Other types of flour have a lifespan of 3 to 6 months.
You can tell if the flour is bad by the smell. Fresh flour has a neutral smell, but bad and decomposing flour has a rancid smell. Grains that produce flour contain oils that, with time, begin to degrade, producing the rancid smell. The smell is usually not pronounced, but perceiving it is still easy.
Examining the color and texture is another way to tell if the flour is bad. Fresh flour has a smooth texture and a light tan color. On the other hand, decomposing flour has a dark color and forms a mold.
Of course, you can also taste the flour to ascertain if it is still good. Fresh flour has a nutty taste. Bad flour has a sharp moldy taste. However, this method isn’t recommended, and you should consider sticking to other ways.
10 Clever Ways To Use Old Flour Around Your Home
If you have some stale and old flour that is not fit for consumption in your home, you need ways to dispose of it properly. Here are 10 clever ways you can use it in your home.
1. Insect Repellant
Ants are known to avoid flour. If you notice ants in your home, you can keep them off by sprinkling a line of flour at the entry point.
The other way to use it is to keep aphids off your plants by just sprinkling the flour on the leaves to keep off aphids.
2. Homemade Glue
You can make glue with old flour, preferably bread or all-purpose white flour. But on top of the spoilt flour, you’ll need water, sugar, and alum powder for the project.
- Start by mixing the sugar and flour
- Add water while stirring the mixture to prevent lumps
- Cook the mixture over low heat while stirring it till the paste is clear
- Remove it from the heat
- Mix it with the alum powder (It serves as a preservative)
- Store it in a covered glass jar
To use the glue, spread it over a piece of paper that needs gluing. You can achieve that with a brush. Then, press the paper against the surface where you want it to be glued and gently flatten it until the paste dries.
3. Clean A Deck Of Cards
If your cards get grimy after every play, you can use flour to clean them.
- Put the cards in a sealable bag
- Add a few tablespoons of flour to the bag
- Shake it well
- Remove the cards and wipe the flour off with a cloth.
It will take off the grime and oil. It also makes the cards easier to shuffle.
4. Dry Shampoo
You can use dry flour as an alternative to shampoo. Apply the flour like a shampoo to wet hair and scrub through your hair. Rinse and repeat the process.
But you should know that flour doesn’t feel like shampoo, so you might not feel it is effective. After you are done, use a conditioner.
5. Stainless Steel Cleaner
You can use flour to polish stainless steel. After cleaning your appliances and items made of steel, sprinkle some flour on a dry, clean cloth and buff the stainless steel. Your appliances become as good as new.
6. Copper Polisher
If you have copper items at home, you will see how they lose their luster over time. Using a mixture of salt, flour, and vinegar, scrub the copper items, like pans and pots. Leave it to dry. After it dries, polish it with a dry, clean cloth — and that’s it.
7. Face Mask
With the combination of flour, turmeric, and yogurt, you can make a DIY face mask to keep your skin glowing.
- Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to two teaspoons of gram flour
- Add three teaspoons of yogurt to the mixture and mix all three well
- Apply the mixture to your face
- Leave it for twenty minutes to dry
- After it is dried, rinse it off with warm water
This type of face mask is perfect for people with oily skin.
8. Stain Remover
You can use old and expired flour to remove mud, oil, wine, soda, blood, and other stains from any covering.
- Apply the flour to the stain but don’t rub on it.
- Leave it to dry for a few minutes to some hours.
- Clean off the flour by vacuuming or sweeping it.
9. Play Dough
You can use old flour to make play dough. It is similar to modeling clay, but you cannot use it for baking.
- Mix two cups of flour, one cup of salt, and two tablespoons of vegetable oil together
- Add two cups of warm water to the mixture and stir well
- Add a teaspoon of tartar cream to increase the elasticity
- Store it in an airtight container
10. Get Rid of Pimples
A mixture of flour and honey will help you get rid of acne and pimples. Apply the mixture directly to the pimple, and cover it with a band-aid overnight. You’ll notice the swelling has reduced when you wake in the morning.
You can use flour for a variety of things besides preparing cuisines. But if you have purchased more flour than you need, there is no need to toss it out. There are different things you can use it to do. We have provided you with some creative ways to dispose of old flour. If you have not been doing it right, now is the time to fix up. Have fun trying out these methods.