color ink

eric62687April 9, 2009

Is the color ink on newspaper bad for worms? I know not to use the glossy adds but I'm not about to cut out all of the color pictures. Anyone had a bad experience with color newspaper print?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You have brought up a much-debated topic here. If you do a search here you will find hundreds of discussions, some of them rather heated. You'll have to make your own decision what you think.

In my curiosity, I did some research on the subject. Before I launch into what I have learned, I'll tell you my conclusion: As far as I can tell, the jury is still out on this one. It might be safe and it might not. I'll probably keep using the newspaper, but just in case, I'll probably avoid the pages that have lots of color on them.

Here's what I found out: Newspaper inks can be petroleum-based or vegetable oil-based. Petroleum-based inks were the dominant newspaper inks for a while (60s-80s), and they were found to be hazardous to the print workers. They also cause air pollution because of their high content of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).

In the 90s newspapers started moving towards vegetable-oil inks, and at this point the predominant inks are soy-based. This was a happy development for soybean growers, and soybean advocacy groups have done some serious work promoting this as environmentally friendly and encouraging newspapers to use a special seal to certify they are using mostly soy ink. The soy ink is low in VOCs and the recycling process is less toxic than the petroleum version.

We have pretty much established that the soybean oil itself is pretty safe. It's edible (as long as you're not allergic to soy). The problem for us is that other stuff is added to it to make the color ink, some of which can contain heavy metals. I found it very difficult to get much information on the "other stuff" in the ink. I ran across only two sources on the safety of that stuff: There was a study on PubMed on the impact of color ink on aquatic life, which suggests there may be hazards that we need to study more. I also found a National Institute of Health publication suggesting that increased use of color ink has increased allergic responses to something present in yellow dye.

If someone else has found more information about what is added to the soybean oil, I would be interested in seeing what you found.

If you are interested, here are a couple sources I found:

University of Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute on ink alternatives

Australian article about color soy ink

Best wishes in your vermicomposting adventures!


Here is a link that might be useful: Cornell's FAQ on composting newspaper

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 11:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Do you use newspaper with color ink in your bin?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 2:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, I do. I've got more worms than I know what to do with.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 3:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I too use colored newspaper with no problems. I even use the funnies.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 5:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jonas302(central mn 4)

It will break down just like everything else no problems

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 11:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No. There is no effects on the worms because the newpapers are made of simple papers. but still some inks are made of dangerous chemical that harms the worms. We use the health marking inks for printing fo you wnat to use...

Here is a link that might be useful: Health Marking inks

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 10:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Vegans benefiting from a product designed for marking dead animal caucuses.


Welcome to the forum.

Are you presently shopping for a system? If so I would recommend a system similar to the Worm Inn. This design idea started with a pair of blue jeans. Perhaps some on the forum have designed their own similar type systems with a stronger base. There is also round or square tray systems. These too posters have raised worms in and made vermicompost and recycled their kitchen waste using low cost homemade versions of the $$systems. Not that purchased systems are not way cool and effective. Maybe 25%? of posters use a purchased system as their main bin.

I invite and encourage you to read back and back and back in this forum. Then check out other similar sites and read them. Every site as a bit of a twist to raising worms that you will want to know about. There are even some sites that sell worms that have varying amounts of valuable information. Some of it is great information.

To win the big prize video tape your journey into vermicomposting. We love watching everything about vermicomnposting even horrible, terrible failure. That is how we learn as a group. However, you, after having taken the time to study the board for a while I suspect you may be able to avoid the worst chances of that. Reading and learning online are ages past just reading a single book and having to make due. You can ask questions and get an answer back in an instant. Isn't the internet great?

I congratulate you on being brave enough to post to our forum. Sometimes some of us, cough, cough, me, cough are a bit crabby. Luckily everyone else, is very cheery and actually very helpful. You will find people will take a lot of time out of their day at all hours of the day to help a beginner or not a beginner over worm issues. We sure do know that some worm issues need to be handled right away. If you are in a rarely populated time zone and need help right away I hope lurkers will lurch into the fray to help save the worms in a timely manner. Note to Lurkers: Prepare to lurch.

If you are thinking of increasing the size of your garden this spring and are thinking a wee bit of vermicompost would get the seedlings off to a good start but you don't want to pay a lot of money for the system or the worms then here is your place. As you may want to vermicompost kitchen scraps start now by composting them. Find a nice out of the way, nature type of place. In the spring you can grab back up the compost to start your vermicompost system and along with it possibly gobs of vermicomposting worms. Well maybe not gobs but a few anyways.

I promise or maybe I betcha, you will not loose anything by not buying worms. Why? Because everybody kills their first worms. So why not practice with free worms in a smaller quantity. . . Why? Because dead worms smell. They smell way bad. After practicing on the free worms you can decide if worming is really for you.

All, some or none of the above may or may not be true. We will see what the wisdom of the web has to say. The value of a forum is in the different opinions. Sometimes the least agreed upon opinion may be the right one. We need you to tell us. Again Welcome to the Forum. Nooooo Pressure.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 2:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

By posting an ad, you will have ignored the instructions, the user agreement and this warning. If you proceed to post an ad, we will take these courses of action:

You will be banned from the forums.
Your URL will be added to a list of forbidden links. No message linking to your site will be accepted, whether it is from you or another user.
We will use whatever means we choose to inform our users of your business practices and ask them not to do business with those abusing the forums.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 2:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am forwarding this to the company.

Can somebody please forward this to somebody at garden web. Their information systems are not simple and easy to do.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 2:42AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Worms and assorted flying things
So I've got two bins going right now, and both have...
Greens vs Browns
I've done standard compost for a while now and I just...
Worm illness / worms are dying
Hi there, I have a serious problem with my worm bin: Same...
Horst Knotter
Survivability of worm eggs.
I had a lidded bucket of vermicompost sitting outside...
best VC recipe to start plants in greenhouse?
I'm going to start seedlings in a high tunnel and was...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™