Guide to Coconut Coir: How is It Used and Why?

The Urban Worm Company is pleased to announce the arrival of Urban Worm Coco Coir, a sustainable, low-salt, pH neutral alternative to peat moss.

Coconut coir is often used as a worm and reptile bedding and the Urban Worm Company has used coco coir as the base layer bedding for the commercial-scale Michigan SoilWorks CFT.

What Is Coco Coir?

Coconut coir, often called coco peat, is an all-natural soil amendment made from the waste created from the harvest of coconut meat and milk.

Coco coir comes in 3 forms: coco pith, coco fiber, and coco chips.

Coco Pith

In the context of a worm bin, coco pith (also called coco peat) is the form of coconut coir commonly used as worm bedding.

It features a fluffy, soil-like texture, yields a very attractive worm cast, and is a “low-risk” worm bedding assuming the coir has been rinsed to reduce the naturally-high salt content and electrical conductivity (EC).

**Urban Worm Coco Coir is rinsed, low-EC coconut coir available in 1.4 lb and bulk 11 lb blocks, making it convenient for both smaller worm bins like the Worm Factory and Urban Worm Bag, and larger continuous flow vermicomposting systems like the Michigan SoilWorks CFT.**

Coco Fiber

Coco fiber normally consists of longer strands of material and is used as a liner at the bottom of hanging planters. Coco fiber is not absorbent and will break down easily over time.

Because worms prefer a soil-like texture, coco fiber is not a good choice for a worm bin.

Coco Chips

Coco chips are just that….chips that possess a very high particle size. This allows them to absorb large amounts of water, which may be useful in a planting medium.

But as they will not break down quickly, I do not recommend coco chips as your primary worm bedding. 

Where is Coco Coir Made?

While the world’s top two coconut producers are Philippines and Indonesia, 90% of the world’s coconut fiber is exported from India and Sri Lanka.

The demand for coco coir is rising rapidly, but still less than 50% of India’s coconut husks are currently used for coco coir production. The rest is burnt as fuel in rural areas.

This should ensure ample supply – and low prices – for years to come, which is good news for consumers and agricultural producers who want to switch from sphagnum peat moss to coco coir.

What is Coco Coir Used For?

Coconut coir is an extremely versatile product. While most people consider it for use in the garden or to make potting mixes, it is a very popular worm bedding for worms, reptiles, turtles, even tarantulas.

Coconut coir is frequently used in composting toilets as well.

Coco coir is popular because it is sustainable, inexpensive, normally pH neutral, and has excellent water retention capacity as a single 1.4 lb (650g) brick can absorb roughly 1 gallon of water. It will take a LOT of neglect for your roots to become dehydrated in a coco coir-infused growing medium.

In fact, if coco coir is the primary ingredient in your growing medium, you’ll want to add vermiculite to aid in drainage to prevent damp roots.

Coir is inert though, meaning there are no microbes or nutrients within it. This may actually be a benefit to some gardeners who want full control over the nutrient profiles of their soil and want to control it through other means.

Why Is Coconut Coir a Top Choice for Worm Bedding?

Coconut coir absorbs a truly remarkable amount of water, with a 1.4 lb (650g) brick easily absorbing just under a gallon – or 8.3 lbs – of water. While many customers on this site will consider coco coir solely as a worm bedding, it has wider use as a soil amendment, hydroponic growing medium and reptile bedding, making it attractive in a variety of outdoor and indoor uses.

While a worm bin needs to be damp at 50-60% moisture of higher, it’s not just the water absorbency that makes coco coir a great choice. In the first few days of a new worm bin, it’s important that the worms acclimate quickly to their new environment and worms find coco coir to be a very hospitable environment thanks to its fluffy soil-like texture.

While you can certainly start worm bins with plenty of other carbon-rich materials, starting a bin with coco coir is considerably lower-risk than starting with shredded paper. Considering the cost of a pound or two of composting worms, I try to steer people towards coco coir to ensure worm bin success

Do You Need Coco Coir for an Established Worm Bin?

Nope!

I always stress that it’s not necessary to buy worm bedding. There are lots of free carbon-rich bedding choices like shredded paper and cardboard that can found in most any household. This article details some excellent choices for worm bedding, most of which are free.

But in lots of cases, it’s best to start with a material like coco coir with an excellent texture that will break down uniformly and can really get you off on the right foot with your vermicomposting bin. I started with shredded paper and killed my worms both times. While it wasn’t the paper’s fault, the wet paper didn’t really provide the same ready-made habitat for my worms that coco coir would have.

Urban Worm Company Recommendation:

Use two bricks of coco coir to start an Urban Worm Bag. This will provide a good 8-12 inch layer of bedding!

15% Discount on Urban Worm Coco Coir

Thanks to the high demand from Urban Worm Company customers, I decided to offer Urban Worm Coco Coir for 2022 and beyond.

And to entice you to try it out for whatever reason – worm composting, worm farming, composting toilets, or as bedding for reptiles and amphibians – we’re offering a 15% discount to customers in the US.

Use COIR15 at checkout!

Do You Need Bulk Coco Coir?

The Urban Worm Company can ship you pallets of bulk coco coir from our Savannah, GA warehouse

We can ship our 1.4lb bricks or our bulkier 11lb blocks which can expand to a whopping 2.25 cubic feet.

E-Mail us to inquire about bulk coco coir at discounted rates.

21 thoughts on “Guide to Coconut Coir: How is It Used and Why?

  1. My worms have been happily dining in a 10 gallon prepared box in the middle of my small bathroom for 5 months. Now, I REALLY want to set them up outside in my UWB. I’ve tried the empty UWB in several outside locations to prepare. Even in most protected areas, rainwater was a problem. I’ve finally got a safe space where rainwater is not an issue. In various resources, I’ve read about using ice cubes in the summer and a blanket on top of the UWB during freezes. I’ve just read about rodent concerns that once again have me spooked.
    Can you offer suggestions for protected outdoor worm composting with an UWB in North Texas, Denton? THANKS!! I could use more space in my bathroom.

    1. Hi Mary,
      A large determined rodent like a squirrel or raccoon will be a challenge. I don’t know exactly what rodents you’ll be facing but I can ffer the following ideas, none of which will totally solve you problems, but all will help. 1) Make sure the contents of your bin are not too rich and keep bedding levels very high. You literally can’t have too much bedding in a worm bin! 2) Set a trap with rich food near the UWB so if given a choice, the rodents will choose what’s in the trap rather than the UWB. 3) Keep the UWB elevated and possibly covered on all sides with a tarp.

      I hope this helps!
      Steve

  2. I’m on my third try for a worm bin. My last 2 were paper only and failed as well. This time I’m using a combination of coco coir (rinsed 5 times and strained through a pillowcase), paper, and cardboard. My worms however keep trying to make a dash for freedom out my top ventilation holes and bottom ones in between buckets-unless I leave a light on. It’s been about 5 days and I’m not sure what’s going on. Plenty of bedding and aired out in daytime with lid off. I check and the moisture is good, no smells or bugs. Ideas?

    1. Hi Mae,
      I am not sure I have enough information to know. This sounds like a ventilation issues perhaps. Is there any food in there yet that the worms would find attractive? Feel free to send a picture to [email protected] and I’ll check it out.

      Also, please know that *some* worms climbing the sides of your bin is not necessarily a bad thing. They will often do this as they are attracted to the moisture condensing on the inside of the bin.
      Steve

      1. Mae and Steve,

        I had my first month I had worms trying to leave. I left the light on then did research and figure out it was the water . I started using a 5 gal bucket and letting the water set for a couple days. Two days later I turn the light off and no more problem . But the best way is to collect rain water and use it. I started with 500 worms so I had to add water daily. Now with 4 months later I add water as needed when I feed. I have no top use newspaper and a pizza box cover .

        When starting small the food and water change as the worms grow in numbers . Hope this helps.

        Thanks for the emails Steve.

        Mike

  3. my instructions said to add composted material to coco pith, i found maggots in composted material, that is bad isn’t it, I am going to keep all outside, should I start again, clean all and just use coco pith?? how do i eliminate flies? thank you so much
    Sonja, your information is extremely helpful

    1. Hi Sonja,
      While maggots isn’t good, the worst you’re going to get is flies. What was in the composted material to attract maggots? Meat?
      SC

  4. Hi,

    I buffered my coco coir with a calcium magnesium solution. I will then rinse it again with water before using it as bedding for my African nightcrawlers. Do you forsee a problem with this? In other words, might the fertilizer hurt the worms?

    Thanks,
    -Brent

    1. I don’t know a thing about calcium magnesium solution, but if your rinsing got rid of the excess, then I *think* you’re good. Can’t be certain though.
      Cheers,
      Steve

    2. What happened Brent? I was actually going to do the same. I don’t know if the worms would like it, rinsed Coco with CalMag.

  5. Hello, My daughter is starting a composting project for school. If she is using two of your bricks in a composting container, could you tell me what is a good amount of worms to purchase? She was given two of your bricks and a bag of worms from her teacher, and we put them in your soil, but the worms seemed to be dead when we took them out of the bag and we do not see any activity in the bin. She said it was ok to leave them in the garage, but it did get cold the first night we got them so unfortunately I think that may have killed them. We brought them inside the next day but I have not seen anything moving. We are starting again from scratch.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Pam,
      The cold likely didn’t kill the worms. They are more cold resistant than heat resistant.
      I know it;s been a few days but do you think they’re dead?
      Steve
      Urban Worm Company

  6. Many packages now come with coconut based packing paper. I have been shredding and soaking before adding to the bin. Its seems to be ok. Any comments?

    1. Sounds great to me Mark! I love the coco-based packing paper and would like to learn more about it.
      Cheers,
      Steve
      Urban Worm Company

  7. Hi Steve
    I have a source to large bags of coco coir in its natural state.
    Do I need to soak and rinse it?

    thanks
    Pete

    1. Hi Pete,
      This all depends if it was rinsed before it was packaged. It couldn’t hurt to do it again if salt is a concern!
      Cheers,
      Steve

      1. Hi.

        I have had a worm bin for about 3 years now, going strong, but recently I’ve had problems with excessive moisture.

        I tried leaving the lid off, mixing in shredded paper and laying cardboard on top, but the problems persist. It’s been going on for about 3 months now so it’s not an existential threat to the worms, but there are a heck of a lot of springtails. Luring the springtails away doesn’t make enough of a dent because the remainder just breed again :-/

        Could I add dry coconut coir to the bin to dry it out some, or would that be a bad idea? My worms have become like pets and I’m worried about going too far and hurting them.

  8. Hi. New to vermicomposting and have a question about coconut coir, feeding frozen foods and thermocomposting. I am freezing the food scraps and then thaw a bit before adding to the bin. Also feeding a bit of UWF worm chow, egg shells and used coffee grounds. Moisture from a good. I find that after a day or two the feeding zone is hot. About 90 degrees. Is the common when feeding scraps in coir bedding? I cover with cardboard to prevent flies and such and cover with paper towels. I dampen a bit to keep moist. The worms have space to move out of the way until the temp goes down. Is this thermocomposting normal or am I doing something wrong. Thank you!!!!!

    1. Hi Michael,
      Wherever there are larger concentrations of food, you can expect higher temperatures. This is a good thing when it’s cold outside, but not so great when it’s already hot! 🙂 90 degrees is within reason though and even if it gets to 100 in the feeding zone, the worms can move themselves away to the outer edges of the bin, especially if you’re using a larger bin like the Urban Worm Bag.
      This heating has nothing to do with the coco coir though.
      I would consider dialing back the feedings and/or making sure you add bedding (doesn’t have to be coco coir) with your feedings.
      Cheers!
      Steve

      1. Thank you Steve!! Great advice as usual. I am placing cardboard under the feeding and on top. Only feeding what I think are small amounts, less than a pound and I about 1500 worms or so. Feeding maybe twice a week but only after checking to see if the past feeding is consumed and then I wait a day or two after that. I am thinking the raise in temp is not abnormal. The bed is about 3-4 inches. Thinking of adding more to give more room for worms to move around the feed zone while it’s hot. The coir I hit from you is great. Very easy work with. Thank you!! And yea. Thinking of the next bin. The UWF bin is on the list. Thank you again!!!!!!!!

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