Alternative to Turface?

jajm4(z5 w. mass, usa)May 22, 2009

I think I posted my question in the wrong thread before, so I'm trying a new one to be sure.

I can't get Turface MVP here. I've checked a million places, and tried the locaters, and no dice. Is there anything that makes a good substitute?

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justaguy2(5)

Floor Dry sold by Napa Auto Parts stores.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 6:02PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Exactly what JAG said...below is a link that might help.

Here is a link that might be useful: click on this link...

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 7:37PM
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katskan41

Yes the thread that puglvr1 posted above is very good. I've found that Turface is excellent for use in soils, but it's not readily available everywhere.

Possible options:

As stated in the above thread you can use a product called diatomaceous earth (DE for short). This is excellent for use in containers. It's fairly easy to come by. The easiest way to find it is to go to your local auto supply store and look at their oil or liquid absorbant section. If you go to a NAPA store, their #8022 product is made of DE and perfect for containers. If you go to a non-NAPA auto store, just make sure the product specifically states "diatomaceous earth" as the primary ingredient. If not, don't buy it.

Also, some hardware stores or garden centers sell Turface under different names. Look for products like "soil amendments" and look for the "Profile" logo on the bag. Our local Ace hardware sells Turface in a 40lb bag under the name Shultz Soil Conditioner. Same exact thing as Turface, even has the Profile logo, just a different brand name.

You can also find Turface sold at places like Walmart as Shultz Aquarium Soil in smaller bags. Again, this is simply repackaged Turface.

So I would try to look for things like that.

NOTE: As a general rule avoid cat litter products and all non-DE "oil absorbing" products since nearly all of them contain non-baked clay that turns to gray mud in containers. Unless the package specifically displays the Profile logo, or lists "diatomaceous earth" or "calcinated (baked) clay" as primary ingredients, avoid it.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 8:56AM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

The part number for the Napa product should be 8822, not 8022 as stated above. A simple mistake I'm sure. I've also used the Schultz soil conditioner mentioned above and it was the same as Turface, just more expensive. One thing I like about Napa's Floor Dry is that it has fewer fines. With Turface I lose about half of it after sifting. And with Floor Dry I lose maybe 25%.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 9:30AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

FWIW - I just had my guys screen 5 bags of Turface through insect screening. I ended up with 2 bags of fines & 3 bags of larger particles. I haven't screened DE in any large quantity, so I don't know how many fines are in it exactly, but I agree that it has fewer fines than Turface.

The differences that are important: Calcined DE has greater internal porosity and thus more surface area, so it holds more water and has more attachment sites for nutrients (better CEC - cation exchange capacity). DE is just a little lighter when dry, but about the same weight as Turface when wet. DE has a pH of about 7.0, while Turface comes in at around 6.2.

Al

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 10:07AM
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katskan41

Thanks for the correction penfold2. You are correct, my mistake on the NAPA part number!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 2:49PM
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jxbrown

The feed store near my house sells a calcined clay product called "Dry Stall Horse Bedding". The product I bought is made locally, so probably isn't available in your area, but you might try calling a feed store.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 7:47PM
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jodik_gw

In exchange for turface, I found a crushed granite sold at farm stores under the name Manna Pro Poultry Grit.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 7:33AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I have had no problem buying Play Ball locally. I don't know how it compares in price to other DE but have found the size to be very uniform with a very small amount of powder. Al

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 8:42AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Jodi - be sure it doesn't contain oyster shell or other marine products. It wouldn't be an alternate to Turface - only a compliment.

Al

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 10:22AM
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jajm4(z5 w. mass, usa)

Vermiculite would be too water-retentive, right?

I have crushed granite, but I thought that would be too little water retention if I replaced the turface with granite. I also have sand and pea stone. And perlite.

I'll have to look for a NAPA store. I honestly don't even know if we have them, but I figure we probably do. I kind of worry about what kind of contamination might be present in something expected to be used on the floor of a garage, but is there any way to know for sure? I know that some people use DE indoors, on pets, to kill fleas, but they always say to get "food grade, not poll grade."

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 10:44AM
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justaguy2(5)

The DE in Floor Dry is much more coarse than the kind sold for pest control, Jajm4. I couldn't tell you about any contaminants, but there was no visible stuff other than the DE in the bag I tried.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 11:05AM
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rj_hythloday(8A VA)

AL,

This comment ''Calcined DE has greater internal porosity and thus more surface area, so it holds more water and has more attachment sites for nutrients (better CEC - cation exchange capacity). DE is just a little lighter when dry, but about the same weight as Turface when wet. DE has a pH of about 7.0, while Turface comes in at around 6.2.''

Makes me wonder if calcined DE wouldn't then be better for a growing media?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 11:09AM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

Well, shiver me timbers...getting NAPA Floor Dry is a snap compared to ordering from Agway, waiting over a week and driving 40 minutes to pick up Turface MVP.

I just have one ignorant question.

"Floor Dry" isn't at all like the powdery DE I use to keep things from eating my plants in ground gardens, right?

The Floor Dry is larger size particles of DE comparable to Turface MVP, correct?

Just want to be absolutely sure and I understand I'll need to screen out the powder/fines.

Yippee! There's a NAPA store a few minutes from here.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 6:45PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Ahrrrgh (that's pirate for 'yes') - it's approximately the same size as Turface.

Al

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 6:48PM
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filix

I used DE this year. And man Al isn't kidding when he says it holds alot of water! I tried making the gritty mix with it instead of turface. It took along time to dry out. Me thinks its better in the 5.1.1. Unless you change the ratio on the gritty. filix.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 7:08PM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

Thanks, matey...er, Al.

I can use the screened powder residue for usual garden pest battle.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 7:30AM
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rj_hythloday(8A VA)

Can anyone comment on the prices of the two? Calcined DE and Turface.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 7:41AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It will probably vary by location, but the DE was less expensive here (per bag) but I don't think you got as much (volume), so there won't likely be any vast difference in cost/volume.

Al

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 10:08AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I think I missed a ? above. RJ asked: "This comment "Calcined DE has greater internal porosity and thus more surface area, so it holds more water and has more attachment sites for nutrients (better CEC - cation exchange capacity). DE is just a little lighter when dry, but about the same weight as Turface when wet. DE has a pH of about 7.0, while Turface comes in at around 6.2.''

Makes me wonder if calcined DE wouldn't then be better for a growing media?"

It would seem it would be, but I haven't used it extensively enough to judge whether the higher pH (7.0 vs 6.2) has any effect at all on nutrient availability. I grow lots of conifers as bonsai & I cant afford to have them all yellow-looking because of a pH induced Fe/Mn deficiency. To be fair though, it could very well be a total non-issue because the pH of the media is much less important than the pH of the soil solution. I should make an effort at finding out, even if only to satisfy my own curiosity, but then there's that half pallet of Turface I have sitting in my garage ..... ;o)

I would suggest that those using it in the gritty mix, add extra granite to the mix or screen the fines out of the DE because it IS so water retentive.

Al

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 10:49AM
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romain(NYC)

Hi Al,

What's your suggestion on using LECA(link below)? I failed to find any local provider for Turface but LECA instead. Can I use it to replace Turface? Thanks

-Romain

Here is a link that might be useful: LECA (Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate)

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 6:07PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The 2-4 mm size should work very well.

Al

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 6:17PM
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jodik_gw

Thanks, Al... Manna Pro makes two separate products for poultry... one is the oyster shell, which is to be avoided for container planting use... and the other is the granite chip product. It states right on the bag that it is 100% granite chips.

I haven't run across any Turface in my travels as of yet, but I have found the granite chips to be a decent alternative.

It's a shame that the same products aren't sold everywhere across America... it would make it all so much easier! It would also be a lot easier if the industry wouldn't push the muck they call potting soil... but, such is the race for profit.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 4:35PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I should remember ...... what city are you in - or what large city is nearby?

Some of the products are so heavy that shipping cost adds enough to the price that they can't be competitive in distant markets. Bummer - I know.

Al

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 4:57PM
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arugula(4/5 Wisconsin)

What if you're dealing with a food-producing plant (fruit or herbs)?

Is "floor-dry" or "turface" completely benign as far as leaching any products that might be harmful for ingestion?

Are there any natural alternatives? (not manufactured)

Thanks much.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 3:36PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

As far as I know, Turface is completely safe...other than inhaling the dust, of course ;-)
A "natural" substitute would be Lava rock (Scoria) or Pumice. Neither holds as much moisture
as Turface, though, so you'd need to tinker with the ratios to achieve the proper balance
between aeration and moisture retention.

Josh

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 1:13AM
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aacharley

The Diatomaceous Earth Absorbent available at Zoro Tools seemed to be a good deal to me. There are three grades of particle size. And don't be too concerned about the bag weight. The idea is that it is hollow material. I believe the Diatomaceous Earth is calcium silicate. While it will take years to breakdown, as will granite, the silicon can give some mineral nutrition benefit. Of course, it does not have the magnesium of a typical limestone addition.

Free shipping for a $25 order as I post this. there may also be internet discount codes floating around.

Here is a link that might be useful: Diatomaceous Earth

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 1:06AM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

The industrial version of diatomaceous earth (DE ) is an excellent alternative to Turface. I use a DE product called OptiSorb in some of my container soils and it works very well. Average particle size is about 3/16" (5mm ).

This product holds a significant amount of water so it could help soils retain moisture in hot climates. The only downside is that you need to screen out the very fine dust before using and you shouldn't breathe any of the dust (a dust mask is recommended).

Note: This DE is the kind used to absorb oil or fluid spills and is NOT the same as the food grade DE or the swimming pool filter DE.

TYG

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 10:40AM
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four(9B (near 9a))

> Posted by cmeng
> The Diatomaceous Earth Absorbent available at Zoro Tools

That is the stuff sold at far lower price in Autozone parts store.
I have used it. Not nearly as good as Napa 8822 (also lower than Zoro).

This post was edited by four on Sat, Sep 6, 14 at 19:17

    Bookmark   September 6, 2014 at 5:46PM
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four(9B (near 9a))

Walmart's natural clay cat litter "Special Kitty" works very well for me (hot climate).
It is the only clay that I have tried. Softer than DE,
nevertheless my plants say that they like it.
Roots grow so vigorously that it is a bona fide Turface substitute in hot climate.

This post was edited by four on Sat, Sep 6, 14 at 19:36

    Bookmark   September 6, 2014 at 7:15PM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

I've tested a few cat litter products but most of them are made of unfired (non baked ) clay that rapidly turns to mush when in contact with water. I'd be interested to find out how this Special Kitty product holds up when soaked with water.

Both DE and Turface are baked at very high temperatures and will not break down when in contact with water. I've read that some cat litter products are actually baked and therefore stable but I have not found any in my area. I know the OptiSorb is very stable so that's what I use.

TYG

    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 7:29AM
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four(9B (near 9a))

> Posted by the_yard_guy 6A
> I'd be interested to find out how this Special Kitty product holds up

You won't, and I don't, like iits resultant softness;
opinion irrelevant to my plants (zone 9B),
sticking their collective disdainful tongues out, and contented thumbs up.
Your plants in zone 6A may or may not like it.

I use DE straight (one ingredient), and I like the results.
I use Special Kitty straight, and I like the results.
I do not like DE price; I like S.K. price.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 4:27PM
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