Water beads are non-edible gel beads that are roughly the size of a blueberry (and often look like it too!)
They are commonly used around the house as a decorative tool and to enhance the look of your floral arrangements. Water bead is also an old toy for kids.
People often wonder how to dispose of water beads lying around their homes.
Whether it’s because your children have grown older or perhaps you’re getting rid of some decorative pieces, here is everything you need to know about the proper disposal of water beads.
Are Water Beads Biodegradable?
Before we get into the right disposal methods, you should know that water beads are made of a biodegradable polymer.
These super absorbent polymer beads have traces of acrylic acid, sodium hydroxide, and water with different color pigments added to make them more attractive.
So, instead of throwing them into your trashcan, you can actually utilize them around your garden and in your flowerpots.
A better, more environment-friendly practice is to let nature run its course and break the beads down instead of sending them off to further pile up in our landfill sites.
How to Dispose of Water Beads
Although your water beads can be reused several times, they do come with a short lifespan, and soon enough, you will need to dispose of them.
We commonly find people concerned about how to dispose of water beads and the environmental impact they could have.
Below, we will discuss the best disposal and recycling methods to ensure you get the most value for your money without harming the environment.
Shrink Them to Be Reused
Before getting rid of anything, you should always ask yourself if it can be repurposed around the house.
So many of the items we consider trash can be reused in various different ways. It reduces the amount of waste you produce, lessens your carbon footprint, and can even save you money!
If you’re done using your water beads as decorative elements or your children, have gotten bored with them, look around the house.
Maybe you’ll find a new home for them somewhere. Even if you don’t, it is super easy to shrink and store them for later use.
You never know when your children might decide they want to play with water beads again.
Let’s go over the steps for shrinking the water beads now.
Just as you put the beads in water to make them expand in size, you will be doing the exact opposite to make them shrink.
Make thin layers of your water beads, preferably spread out over some kitchen towels. You can also place them in a strainer or any other bowl with holes in it. However, keep in mind that the more the surface area is exposed to sunlight, the quicker the shrinking.
Look for a brightly, sunny part of your home. It should get plenty of sunlight and have good airflow.
Leave the water beads in this part of the house. The sunrays will cause them to release all the moisture buildup from the polymer and start shrinking in size.
Please ensure the released water is being drained (for example, on the kitchen towels); otherwise, the beads will start absorbing it again.
You can also sprinkle some salt to speed up the drying process.
Important note: While water beads require high levels of light to shrink, it is best not to expose them to direct sunlight.
Extended sunlight exposure can damage the internal polymer of the beads, causing them to break apart.
Therefore, a better practice is to leave them in an area that doesn’t get harsh sunlight for a more extended period of time.
You can also consider putting them in a dehumidifier to shrink the beads quickly and easily.
Take them to the Garden
If you’re absolutely sure you won’t need the water beads anymore, why not use them in your garden? Yes, you read it right. Water beads are an incredibly cool way of watering your plants.
Water beads were initially meant for gardening purposes only. It wasn’t until much later that people brought them indoors to use as decorative pieces, and eventually, little children got a hold of them.
An environment-friendly and extremely productive way of utilizing your water beads is by mixing them into the soil in your garden, backyard, or even some potted plants.
You can either add them in as it is or crumble them up in your hands for increased surface area. Mix the beads in with the soil and let them become a part of nature.
Due to their biodegradable nature, the beads will slowly be broken down in the soil. You can easily expect them to release water for up to 24 months before degrading completely.
This keeps your soil well-moisturized and prevents any effects of plant dehydration.
However, it would help if you remembered to not continue watering your plants as frequently with the polymer mixed in. Over-watering can be quite destructive to roots and shoots.
Throw them in the Trash
Lastly, you can safely throw them in the trash. This isn’t the preferred manner of water bead disposal as it needlessly takes up space in landfill sites that are already overflowing.
Moreover, water beads can’t be thrown in recycling bins with the rest of your biodegradable trash.
If you are opting for this last resort, there are some things you will need to be careful about. Always put them in a container or biodegradable bag before tossing them in the trashcan.
Water beads are small and slippery, so they can easily spill out. If this were to happen, it could cause accidents with people falling over or even be swallowed by pets or little children.
What You SHOULDN’T Do
The most important thing to remember when disposing of your water beads is NOT to flush them down the toilet or throw them in the sink.
Letting your water beads down any form of the drain can cause blockages in pipes and clog the drainage line.
It can result in extensive water damage at your home, with the sink boiling over, burst pipes, and the toilet flooding everywhere.
P.S. If you suspect that a child has poured any water beads into your toilet or sink, it is best to call a plumber immediately.
Additionally, even if the beads manage to pass through your pipes, they will likely end up at a water body. Keep in mind that these water bodies are home to a variety of fish and others.
Not only are you polluting their space of living, but you are also exposing them to hazardous material.
These beads may be safe to decorate your home or as toys, but they pose a significant choking hazard for wildlife.
Human-made trash is one of the biggest threats to wildlife. It causes habitat loss, choking disruption to the delicate biological balance that sustains these ecosystems.
Each year, thousands of animals are exposed and killed by materials they should never come in contact with.
So, it is essential for us to do our part to ensure such hazardous materials don’t make it to our water bodies.
How Quickly Do they Degrade?
The lifespan of a water bead depends on the way it is used. If the beads are placed in light-up products, they only last a few months and only with minimal air exposure.
On the other hand, if you’re using the water beads for decoration, you can expect them to last for a year or two.
Water beads have the longest lifespan when mixed in the soil. They can easily work at water reserve for your plants for a good 7 to 9 years.
This is because they have the least exposure to air and light deep under. A dry, dark place is the best environment for water beads to retain their internal polymer formation.
The Final Words
There you have it, everything you need to know about how to dispose of water beads. It is always best to consider environment-friendly practices when disposing of trash.
Also, by getting a little creative, you can easily repurpose most of the things considered garbage.
It gives your home a wonderfully rustic look, reduces your carbon footprint, and makes you a better citizen of the community.
Other articles you may also like: