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The starting material for perlite, also called perlite, are volcanic glasses like obsidian. The volcanic glass is formed when lava cools quickly with a small amount of volatile matter. Obsidian's back is black and smooth glass. By weathering processes in this glass gossamer cracks, through which water penetrates and deposited minerals there, from which over the millennia quartz, cristobalite and feldspar form. Finally, the originally black obsidian transforms into the porous loose stone Perlite, which then has a greyish color (depending on mineral deposits) and an extremely large surface due to the numerous cracks and channels.

Occurrence of perlite

Due to its development Perlite is mainly found in formerly volcanically active regions. The main mining countries for Perlite are Greece, Turkey, the USA and Japan.

Perlite in potting soil

Perlite is used in potting soil as a water reservoir and ensures that the earth is better ventilated

Use of Perlite

To optimize the water retention properties of perlite, the raw material has to be "popped". This means sudden heating to around 900 degrees. In this procedure, the water contained in the perlite is evaporated in fractions of a second. The channels expand in the rock and the volume of the material increases by up to 20 percent, whereby the weight - in relation to the volume - decreases. Because of the visual and haptic similarities popped perlite is considered by some hobby gardeners to be styrofoam.

Treated in this way, Perlite in the garden or pot culture serves as an ideal soil conditioner as it not only stores water, but also aerates the soil. As an aggregate of potting soil, the small globules ensure that no waterlogging forms. In addition, Perlite is pH-neutral and has a very low salt content. These properties make it ideal for use in gardens where the soil is very sandy and therefore very difficult to hold moisture. Garden areas that are low in moisture or difficult to absorb moisture (loamy soils) can also be improved with perlite. The storage capacity of the material optimizes the water balance and thus ensures a better thriving of the plants.

Perlite is even used as a pure growing material in large growers. The nutrients are introduced by irrigation, stored in perlite and returned to the plants with the water.

Perlite as a growing substrate

Plants even come out with pure perlite as a growing substrate

The right pearlite grain

Perlite is usually offered in three grits for different areas:

  • 0-3 millimeters
  • 0-6 millimeters
  • 2-6 millimeters

Ideal for use as a soil conditioner in the garden, the grain size is 0-6 millimeters. In order to upgrade potting soil or to create your own substrate, 2-6 millimeter grain size is recommended, as the substrate tends to sludge when finely grained.

Buy perlite for the garden

Although many substrate manufacturers use Perlite to optimize their potting soil, and it has also gained a degree of familiarity among hobby gardeners, it is difficult to get in the trade. Garden centers, DIY stores, building material yards and composting factories have it on offer, so a request there can not hurt. But the simplest way leads, as so often on the Internet. There Perlite is offered in different container and grain sizes. A 100-liter bag is priced at around 20 euros.

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