[Nutrients] Don't Get Crippled by the Cold

[Nutrients] Don't Get Crippled by the Cold

Ian
Ian
06 Nov 2011

Ever heard your nutrient rattle? You're not mad - your nutrient's just become too cold. 

If it gets too cold for too long, small, insoluble solids form - like tiny crystals. Give your bottle a shake and you can hear them rattling around.

This is called precipitation.

When this happens, don't use your nutrient! First, you need to fix the problem. Here's how to do it.

What's precipitation?

Precipitation is a chemical reaction where a solid forms in a liquid.

It's pretty much the exact opposite of dissolving. 

The solid is called 'the precipitate' and is insoluble in water. 

Rain, snow, sleet and hail are all good examples of precipitation occuring.

 

Precipitate Precipitate

What does this mean for plants?

Remember, precipitates can't dissolve in water. So, if you get them in your nutrient, some minerals can't be absorbed by your plant. 

Plants get the wrong nutrient profile and are deprived of key minerals.

If precipitation has happened, DO NOT USE YOUR NUTRIENT. Not until you've fixed the problem.

How to check

Before using, just give your bottle a shake.

If you hear rattling, precipitation has happened and you've got some fixing to do. 

  • If you've already mixed a solution, it might be cloudy
  • If you've started using your solution, look out for signs of nutrient deficiency (like yellowing leaves). 

Precipitate Precipitate

What are the Causes?

The BIG cause is the cold - this only really affects your concentrated feed during storage.

Another cause is your pH. This is more of a worry for nutrient solutions, where your pH can drift as plants use minerals.

How to Prevent

It's much easier to prevent precipitation than it is to reverse it!

Mixing nutrients Mixing nutrients

In storage

  • Store nutrients in a cool, dark place
  • Keep at 10oC - 19oC
  • Keep out of direct sunlight

When Mixing

  • Never mix part A & B together - always add to water separately and mix well in between
  • Adjust your pH after adding nutrients & boosters 
  • Never mix pH Up & Down together

How to Fix Precipitation

If it's a nutrient solution, sorry folks, you just have to chuck it.

You can still save your bottle of nutrient, though.

Stand the bottle in a bowl of hot water and place on a radiator. Then it's just a waiting game.

Every so often, tilt your bottle to see if the rattling has stopped. When it has, the problem's solved and you can start using your nutrient right away.

Ian
Ian
About the author

Ian's our Sheffield shop manager. He loves tinkering in the greenhouse. Drop by to see what he's growing.

GroWell Hydroponics Sheffield

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