Baking dirt?

Discussion in 'Tips & Tricks' started by platypus1217, Dec 30, 2007.

  1. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    I was considering using some dirt from an empty flower pot I had around as scenery on my layout. I remember hearing somewhere that you are supposed to bake the dirt before you put it on the layout.

    Is this true? Why is this? I am hoping that I can go straight from the pot to the layout but I don't want to end up having it come back to get me later.

    Thanks for your input.
  2. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    The reason for baking the dirt is to kill bacteria and seeds. But, once it's glued down, when are you going to water it again? The dirt will be dry, so nothing will grow anyhow.
    My opinion.

  3. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Bacteria, mold, and fungus will grow, trust me. They can survive on just the moisture from the air.

  4. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    If it's glued down, moisture can't get to it. The glue will seal it.

  5. Ginns

    Ginns New Member

    Baking the soil helps to dry it out and get rid of bugs and sterilize it a bit. However, I think you should be careful what soil you put down on your layout. Potting soil is filled with organic matter to decompose and feed the plants, which might not be the best thing to spread over an indoor layout. Soil that has a higher sand/rock content or clay might work better for model railroading.

  6. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    I've always literally scooped dirt right out of my back yard, sifted it, spread it on my layout where I wanted it, and soaked it down with a diluted Elmers glue mixture. Never had any problems but then I'm in Phoenix where most of the year our humidity levels are in the teens.
  7. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Trainnut and platypus: Don't try that process in any area that has normal amounts of moisture. You will get the above mentioned fungi, bacteria etc. The best way to look at the reasoning behind baking the soil is that somebody in the past tried doing without the baking and it didn't work. Thats how we humans have progressed. We learn from our own and others mistakes.
  8. XavierJ123

    XavierJ123 Member

    What's that old saying? "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"!
    Our master modeler says, "Bake it" and that's enough for me. Oh, I forgot---how long and at what temperature?
  9. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I don't know if there is any standard temp. for baking dirt. I used 250 degrees F. and about one half hour. Check for small combustible items. Sticks, pieces of paper etc. Don't use the cook's best tray. (The last item is most important for your well being).
  10. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Very interesting. I've been in this hobby for the last 30 some years and this is the first time I've heard anything about baking dirt to get rid of yuck that causes problems later on. Good to know...good to know.

    Well, that's how some humans progress. The rest seem to want to make the same agonizing mistakes time after time after time. They can't learn from others mistakes... they've got to go out and make the same darn mistake themselves 'cause they didn't think it would happen to them the same way it happenned to you. Sorry, little sore spot there.
  11. nachoman

    nachoman Guest


  12. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    Thanks for the information. It sounds like number of people have had problems with raw dirt so I think I will play it safe and bake mine.
  13. xnavyguy_bm3

    xnavyguy_bm3 New Member

    I am a civil engineering technician. We do sieve analysis's on soils samples. You can cook the soil in a microwave to dry it out. takes about 10-15 minutes on high power. whether you do it in an oven or in the mic, you need to stir the soil every few minutes to ensure the soil on the bottom dries. to check that it is dry put a small strip of notebook paper on top of the soil while cooking. If the paper curls during cooking, the soil is not dry. If the paper stays flat the soil is dry.
  14. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    xnavyguy I was jut reading your post and noticed your location. I grew up in the milwaukee area put did not recognize the name Kewaunee so I looked it up . Dude your close to green bay packer heaven. Im jealous.
  15. McGilliCutty

    McGilliCutty New Member

    Somewhere many years ago, I read that you should not operate a microwave without some form of moisture inside. While this is not normally a problem when cooking food, cooking dry dirt might be. Is this a case for the mythbusters or a problem that's been solved over the years? It seems like you would defeat the purpose by nuking the dirt to dry it out but yet you have to put a glass of water inside to maintain the moisture level.
  16. BUSTED.

    And this myth is not just busted, but busted in a rather fun sort of "let's also break the 'no metal in the microwave rule' " type way:

    Smelting in a Microwave | Popular Science

  17. xnavyguy_bm3

    xnavyguy_bm3 New Member

    well all i know is that we do it at work with many soil samples. If the little piece of crap microwave we have in the lab dont explode, none will!! I have dried sand at home in my microwave. I sieved it with a few sieves from work, and now I have some different grades of sand for the layout.
  18. xnavyguy_bm3

    xnavyguy_bm3 New Member

    Yeah not too far from G.B. As a matter of fact I drove past Lambeau today! Love being up here! GO PACKERS!! (even though they layed an egg) I grew up in Kewaunee, had GB&W go past the back yard twice a day on the way into kewaunee!! Love that red and white!!!

    I do alot of work around Milwaukee, what part you from?
  19. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    xnavyguy I grew up in the Milwaukee area 38th and silverspring. At 29 (1984) I joined the military and ended up in kansas in 1993. Im living in kansas now and get up that way once in awhile. I cant see Brett leaving that way so I think he will be back.
  20. xnavyguy_bm3

    xnavyguy_bm3 New Member

    After the year Brett had I too think he will be back

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