How can I reuse or recycle corn cobs?

corncobsWe’ve had an email from Jayne:

What can I do with corn cobs? Seems such a waste to throw them in the bin after we’ve eaten the kernels. Compost?

Yes, they can be composted but since the core is usually pretty tough when the ears reach maturity (sweet corn cob as opposed to baby corn stage), they’ll probably take quite a while to rot down – chop them up to speed up the process but they’re still not going to be the fastest. (Some people get around this sort of problem by keeping two types of compost heap – one for things that will rot quickly, and one for things that will rot slowly. The first will provide regular compost for the garden, the second will produce it eventually too but the main purpose is to keep the first pile clutter-free – and keep other stuff out of landfill of course.)

Apparently they can be shredded and used as fibre in cattle fodder, burned into charcoal and on a large scale, can be used to make a industrial chemical compound.

Any suggestions for things more useful around the home?

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17 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle corn cobs?”

  1. Bobbie says:

    I feed them to my chickens and they eat every bit of corn left on the cobs, then play football with the cob. lol! Eventually it rots down with the rest of the chicken litter into the best compost/fertilizer in the world.

  2. Audpicc says:

    You can cover them with peanut butter, honey and seeds and hang them outside as bird feeders.

  3. Tommy says:

    If you have a kitchen composter or bin, you can also store the cobs there until you are ready to take them to your main (slow process) bin.

    Great website, by the way. Keep up the good work.


  4. Nicole says:

    I hear they make good chew toys for dogs

    • AVeterenarian says:

      You heard wrong. Corn cobs are soft enough to be bitten into pieces, and if the dog doesn’t bite the piece down enough, it will become lodged in their intestine and they can die.

  5. Eliza says:

    You can apparently use them as pot scrubbers. Also, dried, they make good firstarters.

  6. the greenth says:

    Let the wild life have the best of them, let them dry out and use them for one of the following:

    as a pot pourri ingredient, saw them into segments, stain them with food colour, scent them with essential oils
    as a fuel for smoking foods
    as an absorbent when ground up in a mincer and mixed with growing media
    as charcoal, easy to do but you’ll need a lot even for a home made solution

  7. joseph alagna says:

    The Karankawa Indians of Texas used to use them as toilet paper. Cool or what?

  8. Mike says:

    Get a couple of Guinea Pigs. They love them: there’ll be nothing left in a couple of hours!

  9. Shorty says:

    These all sound like great ideas. I think my mom used to tell me that when she was a kid she used to eat the hard inner heart of the cob and that it was very sweet.

  10. Sara says:

    I am going to use them to make a vegetable stock along with other vegetables to can or preserve. I am going to try a roasted vegetable stock. So I will roast everything in the oven and then start my stock on the stove. Thanks for the ideas above. I run a daycare out of my home. We will definatley be making bird feeders with the rest of them!

  11. Donna Crisel says:

    How can i recycle flippy discs. Hate to admit it but have tons.

  12. sue says:

    I use corn cobs to start campfires with when they are all dried out, I also feed newer ones to my farm critters.

  13. Carol Brown says:

    I’ve tried this, works well. To test, I turned the dirt out of a 20′ row for tomatoes, about 10″ deep and placed a single layer of corn cobs in 1/2 of the row. When the plain 1/2 was about 3′ high with blossoms, the cob 1/2 was just over 4′ with many tomatoes about marble size. The cobs act like a sponge holding water and red worms love them. Corn meal in the compost pile draws red worms.
    Have put corn cobs and/or meal on the ground near my garden, covered with cardboard or piece of old carpet (keep moist). Lift and pick worms off the ground for fishing bait.

  14. Kathy Allen says:

    Never ever give dogs corn cobs! They can swallow large chunks that will plug them up. My dog snuck one once and almost died from a blocked intestine 4 MONTHES AFTER HE SNUCK IT. It can bob around in their stomach a long time before heading to the intestines and it doesnt break down. 5000.00 surgery to save him. Don’t let a dog have corn cobs!!!

  15. Amanda McNeese says:

    I am going to use mine in homemade stock. The milky stuff still left in the cob often scraped off for corn chowder will make a great addition. I just put the ears in a freezer bag, and add a few ears every time I make a big pot of stock.

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