Expanded Shale

 Expanded Shale

What is it?
Expanded Shale is a lightweight aggregate that is an ideal growing media for hydroponic or aquaponic systems.  The shale is mined, crushed and fired under high temperatures in a rotary kiln, producing a clean, inert, porous, and light material.

Because of the large amount of cracks and fissures in the expanded shale, the media can retain a large amount of moisture which can reduce the amount of flooding cycles needed for flood & drain (ebb & flow) systems.  For aquaponic systems, there is a large amount of surface area per stone for producing beneficial bacteria for converting ammonia into nitrates.

Expanded shale has been used for nearly 100 years primarily as a building material. It is added to concrete to make lighter buildings and bridges since it is half the weight of standard crushed stone.  The aggregate is also used as an additive in clay soils to increase its drainage properties as well as a decorative mulch around buildings and gardens.

For ideas on how to use Expanded Shale, visit the How To's page!  For purchasing information, please see our Where To Buy page. If you have additional questions, check the Frequently Asked Questions page or ask a question on the Contact Us  page.
Product Comparison

There are several types of media that could be used in a hydroponic/aquaponic system. This table displays some of the pro's and con's for each option:

  Expanded Shale Expanded Clay
(Hydroton)
River Stone Crushed Stone Synthetic
Weight Slightly heavier than expanded clay ½ the weight of stone Heavy! Heavy! Lightest - tends to float
Enviromental Mined from a quarry Mined from a quarry Mined near local rivers.  Larger environmental impact than engineered quarries Mined from quarry or consists of crushed river stone Made from petroleum
Origin United States Typically imported from Germany or China Local quarry Local quarry Typically imported from China
pH Neutral (inert) Yes* Yes Take a chance.  If the stone has any limestone, it will continue to raise the pH Same problem as River Stone Yes
Easy on the hands? Yes - even though the shale has been crushed, the kiln process rounds over all the edges Yes - though the spheres tends to roll away when dropped! Yes Typically very sharp and hard to dig in with bare hands Yes
Expense
(1=cheapest - 5=most expensive)
3 4 2 1 5
Ordering
Bigelow Brook Farm ships product in bulk to authorized wholesale, distribution, and retail channels.  Bulk consists of the expanded shale packaged in 25 liter bags and palletized.  We also offer 40 and 25 liter boxes and a 0.9 liter sample pack which are designed for standard UPS or FedEx shipping.  As a convenience and cost savings to our customers, we also provide the ability to drop-ship orders directly to the end-user.

For information on becoming a reseller, please contact us by filling out the form on the "Contact Us " page.
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* Please see the FAQ's page about pH.
 
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