How Long Will it Take to Bake Soil at 700+ F? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-27-2015, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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How Long Will it Take to Bake Soil at 700+ F?

I plan on using soil in my 20 gallon aquarium and would like to oxidize it to prevent NH4 from leeching into the water column. The winter weather will not allow me to let wet soil sit outside without freezing, and there isn't much space available in the house to do the indoor method (esp. since we don't have a garage). I was thinking about using our fire pit outside to bake the soil. It heats up to around 700+ degrees F and we use it to grill our food. How long would I have to bake the soil to oxidize it and maybe even remove some of the organics? Would it also be better if I first boiled the soil and then baked it?

Last edited by pratfaller; 11-27-2015 at 09:18 AM. Reason: Misspelling
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-27-2015, 11:50 AM
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What kind of soil are you using? There's no need to bake or boil soil IMO. The ammonia isn't really an issue if it leeches since you can use it to cycle your tank. Just do some 50% water changes to bring it down to around 1ppm and use some floaters or fast growing stems to help speed up the cycle.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-27-2015, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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What kind of soil are you using? There's no need to bake or boil soil IMO. The ammonia isn't really an issue if it leeches since you can use it to cycle your tank. Just do some 50% water changes to bring it down to around 1ppm and use some floaters or fast growing stems to help speed up the cycle.
Oh right I should have specified this. The tank is a cycled densely planted 20 gallon that's been running for a few years now. It's currently stocked with a 5 month betta sorority and restarting the cycle would probably kill them. I was wanting to use MGOCPS as a soil substrate and cap it with the gravel that I already have available. I want to at least remove the ammonia and some of the organics, and baking it at high very heat seems like a pretty good method to do so. I just don't know how long to do it for.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-27-2015, 06:21 PM
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How are the plants doing? If the plants have been growing well for a few years now, I don't see a reason to redo your substrate with dirt. Though if you still wanna swap the substrate, you could probably move your betta sorority to a smaller tank temporarily until the tank finishes cycling.

As for baking dirt, I don't think it would work. It would sterilize it but it wouldn't break down the organics. To do that, you need the soil microbes to do their job. The constant wet-dry cycles of mineralization process gives the microbes the oxygen and moisture needed to do break down organics at a quicker rate than when submerged.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-27-2015, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
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How are the plants doing? If the plants have been growing well for a few years now, I don't see a reason to redo your substrate with dirt. Though if you still wanna swap the substrate, you could probably move your betta sorority to a smaller tank temporarily until the tank finishes cycling.

As for baking dirt, I don't think it would work. It would sterilize it but it wouldn't break down the organics. To do that, you need the soil microbes to do their job. The constant wet-dry cycles of mineralization process gives the microbes the oxygen and moisture needed to do break down organics at a quicker rate than when submerged.
The plants are doing pretty well but I have several heavy root feeders that need root tabs to thrive. I figured it would be better to give my plants a soil substrate. It would be a little easier on the wallet even though I buy them online.

From what I understand, low heat would have a negligible affect on organic content but high heat is capable of breaking it down. According to this paper (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0038071796002891) organics begin to decompose (or humify) and gain metal complexity (what I imagine is mineralization but someone correct me if I'm wrong). The heat just has to be around 350 C which is nearly 700 F. The fire pit is more than capable of producing these temperatures and I won't have to gas my family out with the stench as a bonus.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-28-2015, 04:16 AM
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I don't have access to the full article but it seems plausible seeing how controlled burns in some areas can help convert decaying organic matter into nutrients that are available to plants. Worse case scenario is that you end up with lots of ash, depending on how much wood based material is in your potting soil. Try it out and let us know how it goes.

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