As a continuation of the previous post on how to reduce and reuse the wet waste produced at our homes, we need to learn about bio-enzymes. Bio enzyme is basically homemade vinegar made by fermenting left over fruit, vegetables, flowers, and leaves. We can use whole fruits or just the remains of the vegetables, i.e., peels and cuttings alone. As a household cleaner, bio enzyme can be used for your bathrooms, mopping floors, clean pesticide residues on produce, dish washing, as laundry detergent etc. It can be used to clean anything and everything literally.
It is used to eliminate odor, mold, dirt from walls, air conditioners, toilets, fans, windows, doors etc. One can use it as body cleaner, shampoo, face wash as well. It's been said that usage of these enzymes over a period of time reduces lots of common household pests such as mosquitoes, flies, lizards, cockroaches etc. Bio enzymes are also used in agricultural activities. This means for people who have gardens, it's a double bonanza, as it can be used as a natural pest controller and fertilizer.
What are bio-enzymes
Dr. Rosukon Poompanvong founded how to make these bio enzymes and has been actively promoting and encouraging the making and usage of the same. There are no active enzymes in a bio-enzyme, so don't get into thinking why it is named so. Some people even call these as garbage enzyme, fermented fruit juice, kitchen waste enzyme, or waste enzyme. They all mean the same thing. Bio enzymes are organic compounds that speedup decomposition. When we ferment the vegetable and fruit peels, a mixture of organic substances, i.e., proteins, salts and other byproducts of bacteria and yeast are formed. These organic substances are capable of removing microbes from our effluent discharges and clean them in return with least damage to the environment. These are bio-enzymes.
Why should you make bio-enzymes?
You must have heard of unending frothing of lakes and ponds these days in the news everywhere. Why does that happen? Every time we flush our bathrooms after cleaning them with chemical laden cleaners, we are releasing lots of toxins to the lakes and streams. All the industrial and household effluents (discharge) that get into the lakes, kill beneficial microorganisms, the kind that break up organic compounds and disintegrate into harmless products. Lack of these organic cleaners (beneficial bacteria) in the water bodies, leave us with ugly and scary looking toxin froth.
Nature has abundant microorganisms, and 95% of which are beneficial. To kill the 5 percent of toxic microbes we use millions of liters of chemicals on our bodies (soaps, shampoos etc) and in our homes (floor cleaners, commode cleaners etc). Directly or indirectly, not only industries, we too are responsible for all that contamination in the water bodies. Nature is a living entity. We are only part of it, not the whole. The point is, when we switch to organic cleaners, we will reintroduce excess of these beneficial microbes into our lakes and streams, and that can in turn quickly self heal.
We have witnessed nature healing in the current lockdown due to corona virus. River Yamuna was seen having clean water, air pollution had decreased and Himalayas were visible from far off places in UP etc. What we need is more communities adopting sustainable practices, and not one or few individuals, if we want change.
How to make bio enzymes
So back to topic. How to make bioenzymes? All we need is fresh peels (vegetable, fruit, leaves, flowers), jaggery (organic would be better), water and a plastic container. We need to remember the ratio, 1:3:10. This ratio works for weight or volume.
So if you have collected say 3 kgs of peels, you will need 1 kg jaggery and 10 kgs of water. You will need a container that has at least 30% percent headroom. The room is for breathing, meaning gases that are produced during the reaction will have space to stay. More the space, more freedom to make errors. Else, the container becomes puffy and when we open, we may have a rush of compressed air coming out.
Once you add all the ingredients, close the container and keep in a dry place, preferably away from direct sunlight. The first two weeks, you will have to open the container every day to release build up of gases. After that you can do that every two days. After a month, the gases stabilize and you won't need to open the lid. Keep the lid closed for the next two months. At the end of three months, bio enzyme is ready. It takes such a long time only for the first batch. The batches after that get ready in 30 days, when you add starter from the previous batch (1/10 ratio).
Some helpful pointers
- Using wrong containers. Glass should not be used. If for some reason, you don't open the lid to release gases, the glass will break. So its preferable to use plastic containers (the irony, I tend to reuse old grocery containers or paint buckets). Wide mouth containers are better than using narrow containers. This is for ease of adding peels or jaggery etc.
- If you don't have time to open the lid every day for the first two weeks, invest in big containers, so you can do that every two days or so.
- Lots of people only do enzymes with lemon and oranges, basically the citrus variety. Reason being, they are more powerful and give nice zesty citrus smell. There are no ideal combination of peels. I have done enzymes with only one type of fruit peels, mix of fruit peels, mix of fruit and vegetable peels. From my experience, citrus is good. I also like pineapple, and grapes. Now I do mostly half and half, meaning half citrus and the rest of half is different varieties (soapnut, lemongrass, basil, flowers, etc).
- Avoid using onions, cabbage, garlic etc. All these can become too smelly for cleaning purposes. Although garlic, onion, and chilli bioenzyme is very good for garden purposes.
- Using organic jaggery could be expensive, so I use the normal variety. Although most of the local variety is bleached jaggery, it does the work. As we are only using this enzyme for cleaning bathrooms and floors, it's okay to use such jaggery. If you want to use your enzyme for shampoo, face cleaners and such, organic jaggery is recommended.
I have included a video of how to make your own bioenzyme. We need to invest time in zero waste eco-friendly living one step at a time to have a greener healthier lifestyle. I will include a followup video on how to bottle the finished bio enzyme and how to use the same in another post.