Ten Uses for Cow Dung
If most people were asked to come up with uses for cow dung they would probably say “fertilizer?” and then begin scratching their head. Cow dung has many more uses though, and some of them might surprise you. They may even sicken you so, please, do not try this at home.
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That sloppy brown goo that you may have seen dropping out of the back of a cow is actually pretty useful stuff and has more uses than you might think.
- It does not take a lot of imagination to figure out that cow dung makes excellent fertilizer. In fact some people claim that it makes the best fertilizer because cows digest so little of their food that the resulting dung is high in minerals. It also has a low nitrogen content and so it is less likely to ‘burn’ plants.
- The people of Shabwa used to make firecrackers out of cow dung. First of all the dung was allowed to dry out, after which it was burnt until hot. Small pieces of the dung were then removed from the fire and placed on a stone. A small explosion was caused by bringing down another stone onto the hot dung. The name of this process? They called it nadhabeh and it was usually done on special occasions.
- Firecrackers were not the only thing that cow dung was used for in Shabwa. Up until the 1970s it was also a popular choice of render for people’s homes. In fact, in the village of As-Said they had a name for this unusual compound-dhafi. Dhafi was made by mixing together dung, soil and water. Occasionally a kind of soft red stone was also added to the mix. The mixture was allowed to soak for two days, after which it was spread over the stairways, roofs and walls of buildings.
- In 2009 the Indonesian company EcoFaeBrick began manufacturing building bricks made from cow dung. The bricks are claimed to be stronger than a conventional building brick and 20% lighter.
- In many parts of the world cow dung is used as fuel. It has to be dried out first, of course, but in some parts of India it is claimed that cooking chapattis on a cow dung fire enhances the flavour.
- Central African tribesmen have another reason for burning cow dung inside their homes: it repels mosquitoes.
- In 2005 Researchers at Ohio State developed a fuel cell that produced between 300 and 400 millivolts, due to the microbial action in cow dung.
- Cow dung gas is 55-65% methane and has a heating value is around 600 B.T.U. per cubic foot. That makes it ideal for the manufacture of biogas.
- In the UK they still have cow pat throwing competitions and the sport is also practiced in America where it is knows as Cow Chip throwing.
- Cow dung toothpaste! I kid you not. In India one manufacturer mixes cow dung with herbs and water and the resultant mix is supposed to help clear up cavities and brighten the teeth. I find it hard to believe the claims, but one way or another resorting to cow dung toothpaste would certainly give you a smile that got you noticed.