Padding System for Eggs in Boxes
Eggs in storage should be padded so that they do not roll, knock, or rub against each other or the sides of their container. They should be stored in covered containers thereby protecting them from dust and mechanical damage. Storage materials should be stable.
This system provides a padded container with stable materials. In addition, it should reduce unnecessary handling because it uses transparent containers or those with a transparent lid to allow visibility of the eggs and labels without opening the container.
Carla H. Kishinami
Department of Zoology
P. O. Box 19000-A
Honolulu, HI 96817 USA
Tel (808) 848-4198
Fax (808) 841-8968
Photograph: Christine Takata
Illustrations: Alexia S. Scott after
Transparent polystyrene boxes are used for storing individual or multiple small eggs. For larger eggs and larger groups of eggs, boxes made from pH neutral board with metal edges and a polyester film window in the lid, provide strong, non-reactive, see-through storage. Cotton “wool” or batting, and polyester needle-punched batting are used as padding (Fig. 1).
Figure 1. top, Window box with eggs in individual ponchos.
bottom left , Window box with eggs wrapped in cotton strips.
bottom center, Polystyrene box with clutch of three eggs in a poncho with three holes.
bottom right, Polystyrene box with single egg in poncho.
Materials Tools Supplies
- 100% cotton batting, bleached. (Long-staple cotton is preferable to short staple.)
- Japanese lacquered chopstick or small, pointed paint brush handle
- Polyester batting, needle-punched
- Polystyrene transparent box with hinged lid (preferred size: 27/8in x 2in x 2in) or unbuffered, 40pt, tan board, telescope style box,
pH neutral and lignin-free with polyester window on top and metal edges on corners
- Polystyrene vials or polyethylene vials
- Line the bottom of a transparent polystyrene or pH neutral paper-based box with a protective layer of cotton batting, or needle-punched polyester batting. Heavier eggs, e.g., ostrich, may need two layers to pad them adequately.
- Cut or tear off a piece of cotton that will completely cover the egg and have enough left to tuck around it. Do not use polyester for this, see Comments.
- Form a miniature “poncho” by tearing an opening in the middle of the cotton. The opening should be large enough to allow a good view of the egg and any writing on it but not so large that it slips entirely over the egg (Fig. 2).
Figure 2. The bottom of the box is padded and a cotton poncho is prepared.
- Tuck the cotton poncho down the sides of the box, pushing it between the bottom layer of cotton and the box side (Fig. 3). A dull-pointed, smooth tool such as a Japanese lacquered chopstick or the handle of small paint brush is handy for this step.
If done correctly, the egg will be held firmly in place by the cotton and will remain in place even when the box is turned upside down (do not try this with heavy eggs or with boxes containing several eggs).
Figure 3. The ends of the poncho are pushed down the sides of the box firmly and packed
between the bottom padding and the box.
- Place the label in the box so that it is visible through the side or lid.
- Broken eggs with one large intact section and one or more fragments should have the broken side exposed through the hole in the poncho. The small fragments can be placed within the larger piece or in a separate polystyrene or polyethylene vial. The vial can be placed in a corner of the box and held in place by the cotton padding. For eggs that are totally fragmented, place the fragments in a vial and nest the vial in cotton in a standard egg box. Nesting the broken fragments directly in cotton is not recommended because of the danger of the fibers catching on the broken edges and fragmenting the eggs even more.
When several small eggs (
For eggs of this size, tear as many openings in one poncho as there are eggs and space them corresponding to the placement of the eggs in the box. Place the poncho with each opening over an egg and gently tuck the cotton around the eggs and down the sides of the box, between the box sides and bottom cotton layer. If the eggs are not separated in their own depressions, they could be in danger of being pushed together at this stage.
When packing several larger eggs (>3cm length) in one box, each egg can be covered with its own cotton poncho and sides of the ponchos can be tucked down adjacent box sides and between neighboring eggs.
After all eggs are in place, a strip of cotton can be pushed down along the sides of the box, to hold the perimeter eggs in place more firmly.
Sometimes the spacing of the eggs is too snug and one poncho can be disturbed while fixing a poncho around another egg, making it difficult to get them all properly arranged. In such cases, it is easier, and equally effective, to simply wrap a strip of cotton around the sides of each egg. If the end of the strip is gently pulled, the resulting wisps of cotton can be smoothed onto the cotton covering the egg, and the strip will hold itself in place (Fig. 4). Eggs wrapped in this manner are placed side by side on the bottom layer of padding. Use more or less wrapping to take up all available space, but do not under wrap.
Figure 4. The frayed end of the cotton strip can be smoothed onto the cotton wrapping, holding it in place.
The cotton ponchos and wrapping are meant to ensure that each egg is held gently but firmly in place. If, after all eggs are placed in the box, there are gaps that will allow movement, fill these gaps with extra padding material or use a smaller box.
In the polystyrene boxes, labels can be tucked down between the cotton and a side of the box and be read through the plastic. In the paper-board boxes with polyester film windows, labels can be placed among the eggs and viewed through the window. Only one side of the label will be visible through the closed box, so one should decide ahead of time which side is likely to be required most often.
To remove eggs for weighing or measuring, simply lift the poncho carefully and set it aside to use again when the egg is replaced.
Needle-punched polyester batting is an alternative to cotton batting for the bottom layer of padding because it is less expensive than cotton, but it is not a good substitute for the ponchos or wrapping because it does not cling to itself or hug the egg like cotton.
Polyester quilt batting has been used experimentally as padding material, but it is generally too stiff. Like the needle-punched polyester, it does not shape itself around the egg or cling to itself. Moreover, its stiffer fibers tend to catch at any broken edges, threatening to further damage the egg.