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Utelite use compared to vermiculite or perlite

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Utelite use compared to vermiculite or perlite

Post  KellyEllisECS on 9/26/2011, 12:33 am

Does anyone have any information on the comparative use of Utelite versus vermiculite in the Mel's soil mix?

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Re: Utelite use compared to vermiculite or perlite

Post  shannon1 on 9/26/2011, 12:58 am

From what I read on their web site it looks like it improves drainage where as vermiculite helps to retain moisture.

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Utelite use compared to vermiculite or perlite

Post  San Pedro on 12/10/2012, 1:32 pm

I think they both do basically the same thing: break up clay soils, improve drainage, retain and then release moisture. But Utelite has one advantage that it doesn't break down over time. Perlite will break down into smaller particles and lose its effectiveness, after which you need to reapply. That won't happen with utelite, which is rock-based. Utelite is rock, but it's also relatively lightweight, so it's also used in situations where weight is important, for example rooftop gardens, or for making relatively light-weight concrete.

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Re: Utelite use compared to vermiculite or perlite

Post  camprn on 12/10/2012, 2:30 pm

@San Pedro wrote:I think they both do basically the same thing: break up clay soils, improve drainage, retain and then release moisture. But Utelite has one advantage that it doesn't break down over time. Perlite will break down into smaller particles and lose its effectiveness, after which you need to reapply. That won't happen with utelite, which is rock-based. Utelite is rock, but it's also relatively lightweight, so it's also used in situations where weight is important, for example rooftop gardens, or for making relatively light-weight concrete.
I can see where the Utelite not breaking down part is useful for clay soils, but in the SFG I cannot see how utelite would be an equal or better product than the perlite or vermiculite. It would be like putting rocks in your Mel's mix. I know that perlite and vermiculite absorb and retain nutrients and moisture, but I have found no sources saying utelite does the same thing.If you would please cite some study or article that perhaps has side by side comparison??I would find that very helpful.

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Re: Utelite use compared to vermiculite or perlite

Post  Haejin on 12/10/2012, 4:00 pm

I cannot find any peer reviewed studies comparing utelite vs vermiculite, but I did find some information from a reputable source (my office just happened to have a quick reference) and so i'll just share what I found:

~They are both inert, pH neutral, organic materials (vermiculite=mica and utelite=shale) that are processed in the same manner and are also sold in similar grade (coarse particle sizes roughly the same)

~coarse vermiculite's water retention rate is about 32% (322mL/Liter); coarse utelite's rate is around 20% (200mL/Liter)

That said, I think either one will work fine although if evaporation is a worry (small or narrow beds or hot/dry climate) it might be better to use vermiculite (or you can water more).
~Haejin

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Re: Utelite use compared to vermiculite or perlite

Post  llama momma on 12/10/2012, 7:59 pm

@Haejin wrote:

~They are both inert, pH neutral, organic materials (vermiculite=mica and utelite=shale) that are processed in the same manner and are also sold in similar grade (coarse particle sizes roughly the same)

~Haejin

I wonder if radon gas from shale factors into utelite? There are parts of Ohio where homes are affected by shale, as the radon gas from it seeps into home basements. The odorless and tasteless gas is cancer causing and should be vented out of the basement. I'll see what info I can find and share any findings.

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Re: Utelite use compared to vermiculite or perlite

Post  llama momma on 12/10/2012, 9:10 pm

For what it's worth I found MSDS (material safety data sheet)for both utelite and vermiculite. My concern with Utelite and shale/radon issue though is not addressed anywhere, at least not from my limited online search:

http://www.utelite.com/MSDS.doc

http://ebookbrowse.com/pvp-msds-vermiculite-pdf-d416642001

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Re: Utelite use compared to vermiculite or perlite

Post  camprn on 12/10/2012, 9:21 pm

An interesting issue! In regards to radon gas, it is primarily a health problem in enclosed spaces (indoor air quality). An nerdy interesting read at wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radon

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Re: Utelite use compared to vermiculite or perlite

Post  llama momma on 12/10/2012, 10:03 pm

Also, radon is not just an Ohio problem, there are maps that show which states have it since about 1 in 15 homes in the country have radon issues. I only heard of it when I moved here from Long Island. Which btw does does not have a radon problem lucky for them. What a Face

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Re: Utelite use compared to vermiculite or perlite

Post  plantoid on 12/11/2012, 4:05 am

When reading the thread & knowing that shale tends to be an ancient oil bearing rock formed from clays , salts & is sulphurous , it occured to me that Uelite is not as inert ( contains nothing that will cause a reaction ) as vermiculite so I put " sulfur in uelite " into google & had a good read of several references given

My thoughts have been confirmed :- it is a calcium based sulphurous rock and that is why it helps break clays down ( the calcium ) . The calcium will also tend to help release nutrients out of the composts/soil which could be advantageous in certain mother earth soils .

The sulphur content will tend to make the soils slightly acidic and for that reason alone I would not contemplate using it in my MM . Neither would I want the extra weight of in in my MM for it is much heavier than vermiculite volume for volume .

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