Water Glassing Eggs for Long-Term Storage

Water Glassing Eggs for Long-Term Storage

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Are you looking for a method for preserving eggs in their whole raw form? If so, water glassing eggs is the most efficient long-term method available. 

Water Glassing Eggs 

As poultry keepers, there is one thing we can always count on: the drop in egg production between fall through early spring. We become frustrated about the lack of eggs available and wonder why we did not prepare for this season. Well, wonder no more! Learn the technique our great-grandparents used to store eggs before there were refrigerators, freezers, freeze-dryers, and dehydrators. 

This method is known as “water glassing” eggs. Preserving eggs in this fashion allows farm-fresh eggs to be preserved whole in their rawest form, shell and all. Water glassing eggs allows the eggs to be consumed as if they were collected that same day. 

Preserving eggs utilizing the water glassing method allows farm-fresh eggs to remain fresh between one year to 18 months. However, there are individuals who state their eggs remain edible for up to two years in the preserving liquid. The method of water glassing eggs has been practiced since the early 1800s. A popular 1886 cookbook publication, The Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Fannie Farmer, provided instructions on water glassing eggs in a lime solution as a means for preserving them long-term. 

However, not all eggs can be preserved using the water glassing technique. This preserving technique is reserved for those who raise poultry or for individuals who have the opportunity to purchase farm fresh eggs. 

Luckily, the steps for water glassing eggs are extremely easy, and you will be thankful for the ability and knowledge to preserve eggs when egg production was high. You will be especially thankful to have eggs during the winter months when egg production is low. 

Preserving Eggs Long-Term 

As previously mentioned, not all eggs will do. Eggs used for water glassing must be freshly laid and unwashed with the bloom intact. Unfortunately, market eggs have been washed, bleached, and more times than not, coated with mineral oil. The USDA requires egg cartons to be stamped with the package date, which consists of three numbers near the sell-by date. These numbers indicate the day of the year in which the eggs were packaged. However, the package date does not include the number of days between the egg being laid to the package date. With that said, the consumer can expect eggs to be many weeks old prior to purchasing them. 

Eggs that are to be preserved long-term must not only be unwashed, they must also be very clean: free of dirt, debris, waste, or remnants of yolk, egg whites, or broken shell fragments. Do not attempt to wipe the eggs clean; this could remove the bloom. For best practices select the cleanest eggs from the current day. Plan to add freshly collected eggs each day to the preserving bucket; this allows you to be selective with the eggs you preserve. 

Preserving Bucket 

Food grade buckets are ideal containers to use for water glassing eggs. Five-gallon buckets are popular, however, I find them to be difficult to work with. A three-gallon bucket will hold up to 80 eggs as well as the preserving liquid. Another means for calculating the desired bucket size: one quart of water glass will cover roughly 15 to 16 eggs. Keep in mind, three-gallon buckets can be easily moved, whereas a five-gallon buck is much heavier. Not to mention, withdrawing preserved eggs for use means reaching to the bottom of the bucket to pull older eggs first, making this task difficult in a five-gallon bucket. In addition to food-grade buckets, modern earthenware ceramic crocks are a popular choice. 

Preserving Materials 

Two types of material can be used to water glass eggs: sodium silicate and lime (calcium hydroxide). The type of lime to use is known as pickling lime, hydrated lime, and slaked lime. Both products are harsh on the skin and should be used cautiously; however, they both do an excellent job sealing the eggshell in order to preserve eggs long-term. 

Sodium silicate is a food-grade chemical material and commonly used to seal concrete surfaces. Lime is a more natural substance and a lot more comfortable for people to use. For this recipe, we are going to use pickling lime which is found in the canning section of your local market. 


It is best to use water which is free of chlorine, fluoride, and high in minerals. Distilled water or natural spring water are the best options for water glassing eggs. If your city does add chlorine to the water, boil the water and allow it to cool completely before using it. 


  • 3-gallon food-grade bucket 


  • 5 ounces hydrated lime (pickling lime)
  • 5 quarts distilled water or natural spring water 
  • fresh eggs, clean and unwashed 


  1. In a three-gallon bucket add an equal ratio of water to lime. Five quarts water to five ounces of lime provides enough room for the eggs to be submerged. Use the ratio of one quart of water to one ounce of lime regardless of the container size. 
  2. Mix the pickling lime and water until completely dissolved. 
  3. Next, gently add eggs to the liquid. Add pointy side downs allowing the air cells to remain at the tops of the eggs. 
  4. Securely add the lid to the bucket to prevent the liquid from evaporating and the eggs from becoming exposed to air. Store the water glass eggs in a cool dark location, withdrawing eggs as needed, and wash well prior to using. 

Pulling eggs from the bottom of the bucket allows you to use the oldest eggs first. However, pulling a small amount to be used within a few days saves from having to withdraw an egg each time you need one. Make sure to store these eggs in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

Additional Methods for Preserving Eggs 

In addition to water glassing eggs give the following four methods a try: 

Pickled eggs will last for many months when stored properly in the refrigerator, whereas smoked eggs will last a few weeks. Eggs that are frozen or dehydrated will last up to one year when stored properly.  

All four of these egg preservation methods are detailed in the book A Farm Girl’s Guide to Preserving the Harvest by Ann Accetta-Scott.

Originally published in the October/November 2020 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.

44 thoughts on “Water Glassing Eggs for Long-Term Storage”
  1. Can you use “Hydrated Lime Type S” ? I don’t know what ingredient is added to the hydrated lime to make it “hold air” as is indicated by it being Type S. Can anyone help me out?
    Thanks, John C.

    1. Hi John, there are so many different types of lime, and some are very caustic. I find it’s safer to strictly buy the pickling lime sold in canning departments rather than buying from hardware stores and accidentally getting the wrong kind.

  2. When you have used all of the eggs out of the bucket can you re-use the same lime water to start a new batch of fresh eggs?

    1. Hi Patricia, Ann-Accetta Scott says, “I would advise against reusing the hydrated (or pickling) lime water solution over again. For multiple reasons, it is best practice to create a fresh solution once the container has been emptied. This will ensure the solution is at its prime to safely preserve the eggs and also eliminates any dust, dirt, or contaminates from the solution which sat for a year.”

  3. just did my first attempt. I thought the lime was dissolved and was a milky color. Got all my eggs in but the lime has settled on the bottom. Is this ok? Also what is the easiest way to keep the eggs pointy side down when putting into the bucket?

    1. Hi Nancy, some separation will happen with the lime, and a layer on the bottom is normal. Regarding how to keep the eggs pointy side down: that would be a matter of arranging them within the liquid, using the sides and other eggs to keep them propped up.

      1. Thanks for the reply. I have found that putting the eggs in first and then adding the solution works perfectly. Am anxious to see how they eat in a few month. I am using 1.25 gallon ice cream buckets (provided by a friend that works at a restaurant) that will store approx 25-28 eggs with 2 gallons of water/lime. When my production slows I should be able to pull a bucket at a time.

      2. I have a layer on the bottom and snow caos on the eggs. I took them out and stirred more withtge same result. Is that ok or should Instir more? Thank you for all the info! My grandmother used to watergalss and I am just getting started.

    2. Yes, the line does separate and end up on the bottom. That is ok. Also, I use a 5 gallon bucket and find it impossible to store pointy side down. They still turned out fine. I only need my eggs to last until the chicks and ducks start laying again about March so I don’t dig down and grab eggs off the bottom. I open the bucket, take what I need and don’t worry about it.

  4. How clean must the eggs be? Do they have to be perfectly clean, or is it OK if they have some slight smudges of dirt on them?

  5. Stored my fresh eggs unwashed in a lg crock in the 1oz pickling salt to each qt water they where storage in the kitchen pantry they have a smell and have mold on top of the water please let me what I did wrong thank you

    1. Hi, I believe where you went wrong was using pickling salt instead of pickling lime. The salt wouldn’t have lowered the acidity enough to keep the eggs good. Look for pickling lime instead.

    2. Don’t use pickling salt, use pickling lime or hydrated lime. Don’t eat eggs with mold on top.

      1. Hi. I’m new to this. I had read at one point, that using kosher salt is acceptable in place of pickling salt?
        I have watered glassed 4 dozen eggs that way.

    1. That happened to me. I removed all the eggs, threw the liquid out and started over with the same eggs.

      1. Were the eggs still good?. I had 4 eggs broke and I restarted them with fresh water and lime. This was today.

  6. I have eggs that have been stored in pickling lime water for about 6 months. This was my first experiment with waterglassing eggs. I used fresh eggs from my own chickens but I don’t remember if they were all laid that day when I put them into the lime water. They were certainly not more than a few days old. When I crack them open now, after just 6 months of storage, the whites are quite thin, as are the yolks. They’re fine for making scrambled eggs but I don’t think they would make very good fried eggs. I had them in a glass jar with a lid in a storage room – no sunlight, cool but not cold temperatures. Any ideas on why they didn’t seem to store well?

    1. I saw someone demonstrate this method and test eggs after 6 months. As you said the egg contents are thin. She said they are ok as scrambled and taste the same as new ones but less the fluffiness. They were perfectly good for baking.

  7. I have put eggs in th refrigerator while waiting for my lime to arrive can these be water glassed or no

    1. Fresh farm eggs can sit on the counter for quite a long time without refrigeration. Store bought ones need to always be refrigerated.

  8. I used first Saturday lime. Clean eggs. Fresh eggs. I have mold on top of the water. Are the eggs in there still good? Every container I have water glasses aside from the last 3 months has mold.

    1. Someone asked about using First Saturday Lime for Glassing Eggs on FSLs Instagram page, and they replied that it was the wrong kind of lime.

  9. Thanks for this informative article! I’ve been preserving my goose eggs this way this year, so far so good. Today I pulled a broken one and didn’t know if it would affect the others so I made a new solution. While transfering the eggs I realized I was also inadvertently rotating the stock so now I’ll be using the older eggs first. I’d like to know if anyone knows about proper disposal of the old solution as asked above.

  10. I’ve never heard of this, but when it comes to food, I’ll
    try anything… I’m a retired Executive Chef.
    Planning on moving onto a sailboat.
    Having eggs available without refrigeration sounds perfect.
    My question is this :
    How soon after putting the eggs into the lime water will they ready to eat??

    1. They are fine to eat immediately. This does nothing to the egg except to help preserve it, just be sure to wash the eggs before using to remove the lime.

  11. If I pull from the bottom of the bucket how do I know the next time that I am gona get the oldest when I pull because of the eggs that fell down to replace the eggs that I pulled?

  12. Also would like to know how to dispose of the water. We are on septic, so I don’t think I should pour it down the drain.

  13. I have duck eggs which mean they are not to clean, but rather soiled with dirt. I scraped them with with a knife as best I could. Will I also destroy the bloom? I’m going to try them anyway and see what happens.

  14. I have 77 eggs in my waterglassing collection.
    I smell the container each time for peace of mind.
    I found an egg dated 6/30.
    I’ve put 12 in since. I remember dropping one from a short distance.
    Last added was 9/8
    Today the water smells…I found, on top, what looks like a soft boiled egg…cracked.
    I removed it.
    Today is the first smelly day.
    Will the rest, as long as they were settled quietly, be ok?
    Can they be rinsed and put in new water solution?
    Please lmk

  15. Hi!

    Above it says that you should boil the glassing water to remove fluoride. This is actually not true (do a quick google search) and will probably actually make your water more concentrated with fluoride than it was originally.

    Maybe just use distilled water from the getgo!

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