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March 8, 2019 - Advice and Strategy > Other Categories
How Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate are Made?

If you have ever wondered to make your own hydroponics clay pebbles then you are not the one to think about that. Here hydroponics clay pebbles are also known as lightweight expanded clay aggregate which is made using sophisticated equipment.

However, you can even try to make these clay pebbles at home but before making it, determine the benefits of clay pebbles as a growing medium. Before growing your pant, one of the most important decisions that you need to make is the choice of growing medium.

You can use the pebbles as the growing media to sprout seeds before transplanting. Hydroponic pebbles are only used to give plants an anchor for its roots after transplanting to into a hydroponics system. In this way, it also supports the plant and also provides a way to oxygenate and hydrate the roots.

What Are Hydroponics Clay Pebbles?

As mentioned earlier, hydroponic clay pebbles are also called lightweight expanded clay aggregate (LECA) which generally consist of balls of clay that has been heated to temperatures between 1100 to 2000oF. This process causes popping that creates these pebbles which are usually pores. It is due to these pores which makes pebbles a light and airy growing medium that provides water, air, and drainage.

Moreover, these clay pebbles are also pH-neutral, non-degradable and don't contain additional nutrients or substances. These clay pebbles are also reusable which makes it affordable for everyone and because of their advantageous properties, they are very popular.

Advantages of Hydroponics Clay Pebbles

  • Hydroponics clay pebbles have enough space between them for proper percolation, unlike sand and perlite. Even after any debris, algae, or microbes cling to the pebbles there is very little chance of blockage.

  • Hydroton clay pebbles can't compete with perlite's air holding capacity as these pebbles have the ability to hold air bubble and prevent oxygen-free zones.

  • These clay pebbles are reusable. That means you can just wash off any build up and reuse it many times you want.

  • As you already know that hydroton is a loose medium, it is easy to work with then when transplanting or harvesting plants.

  • These surface of these clay pebbles is relatively smooth but they provide sufficient biological surface area for growing the colonies of microbes that keep a system's nutrients responsive and stable.

  • Not just hydroponics clay pebbles are used as a growing medium, they are even used to make lightweight aggregate concrete blocks for the purpose of the building.

How Are They Made?

These clay pebbles used in hydroponics are made by aggregate companies. First, they mine the clay from the ground and the crush it using huge grinding machines and they just roast them in huge rotary kilns with temperatures ranges from 1100 to 2000oF.

So, if you thought that you can make these pebbles at home then think again! Further, you won't find any videos online on how to make hydroponic clay pebbles because it is easier to buy them in stores rather.

However, if you still wish to give it a try then here are the following steps:

  • First, research sources of natural or commercial clay in your area.

  • After that, borrow a rotary kiln where you can load clay in large amounts. Adjust the rollers to get pebbles about 1 inch in diameter.

  • If you don't know how to use a rotary kiln then you can form clay pebbles with your hand and then put that pebbles into any heat source that is capable of reaching 2000o

  • Heat the pebbles until they form bubbles and that bubbles start breaking.

At last, rinse the pebbles in water and you are ready to go!

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