Egg Float Test: Is it a Myth?

Egg Float Test Blog Cover

We have all heard of it, but what exactly is it?

The egg float test is a simple test that checks for the egg’s freshness.

But is it just an old wives’ tale, or does this test actually work?

Today’s topic is just that. We’re going to explain the egg float test, how to do it and whether it is accurate. We will also discuss how best to store your eggs – especially in these hot and humid months!

Before we begin, we want to make sure your bases are covered. Is your coop completely fortified so your hens can continue to lay eggs without any concern for predators? If not, one of the best ways to fortify your coop is an automatic chicken coop door.

Our Choice for All-In-One Automatic Chicken Coop Door

Happy Coop Door - Weatherproof Automatic Chicken Coop Door Open/Close with Timer/Light Sensor, Predator Resistant Self-Locking Gears, Protection Sensor
  • Plug and Play Design - Takes 10 minutes to install the door
  • Up to 6 Months of Power with AA batteries - You don't need an outlet for the door to work, it functions on 4 AA batteries or a 6V battery (adapter included)
  • Protection Sensor - Built-in sensor when closing to detect when there is an obstruction under the door to prevent injury to chickens
  • Protects Chickens From Predators - Due to it's design, the notches the gear uses to open and close the door act as a self locking mechanism that prevents predators from breaking into the chicken coop. With this your chickens are protected and you can enjoy fresh eggs in the morning
  • Door Will Open if Hell Freezes Over, Rain or Shine - Our weatherproof design has been tested to work during rainy weather as well as extreme cold temperatures as cold as 5°F

Our Choice of Treats for Our Chickens

HAPPY GRUBS - ULTIMATE MIXTURE OF WHOLE, HALF, AND POWDER OF BSFL FEED - CHICKEN FEED MIXTURE - 50X-80X More Calcium Than Meal Worms - NON-GMO, Molting Treatment, Great For Wild Birds, Reptiles, Ducks
  • Egg Armor For Your Girls Eggs - Mixture of whole, half, bits AND POWDER of black soldier fly larvae that you can mix in your chicken's feed. It increases the strength of your girls' eggshells.
  • Healthier Feathers - This product is better than bulk dried mealworms and helps keep your girls' feathers healthy and grow back quicker during molting season.
  • Laying More Eggs - Because of the nutrient dense profile of dried black soldier fly larva, your hen's egg production will increase!
  • Totally Safe for Reptiles and Other Birds - Happy Grubs is worm food that can also be enjoyed as bird food, reptile food, and turtles as a treat!
  • Easy-To-Use Scooper - Our bag comes with a scooper that makes our bsfl mixture and powder easy to pour into a bowl or add to your typical chicken feed. It also has a clip so you can clip it onto the resealable bag. You can use it for feeding your other pets too!

What is the Egg Float Test?

The egg float test is an old-fashioned way of telling approximately how old your eggs are. It is simple to do and only takes 5 minutes to check a carton of eggs.

egg float test

How to Do the Egg Float Test

Start by filling a bowl with enough cold water to cover the egg plus two inches. The eggs to be tested should be uncracked. Cracked eggs really should be discarded or fed back to the hens.

Once the bowl is full of water, place an egg into the water, one egg at a time.

The results can be understood as follows:

  • The egg stays at the bottom lying on its’ side – very fresh
  • The egg stands up but is still submerged – not as fresh but still good to eat.
  • The egg floats – very old, best not to use it.

 

Is The Egg Float Test Accurate?

This method has withstood the test of time – it is quite accurate.

Folks who do this test will become adept at telling you how many weeks old the egg is based on its’ position in the water.

Why is it accurate? There is a tiny air cell in a fresh egg, so it has little or no buoyancy. The older the egg gets, the larger than air cell becomes.

When the air cell gets to a certain size, the egg will float.

egg float test

Alternatives to Egg Float Test

In addition to the egg float test, there are a few other methods you can try to test an egg’s freshness.

Candling

Those who are very good at candling can tell approximately how old the egg is by handling it.

This isn’t easy, so I really don’t recommend it for beginners unless you want to practice your candling skills ready for the hatching season!

Shaking the Egg

This one is a bit ‘iffy.’ While it is true that ancient eggs do have a sloshing sound, I’m not sure how accurate this would be in eggs that are of marginal age.

Science says that the egg’s contents shrink over time, leaving a larger pocket for air and thus more mobility for the content to move when shaken. As the egg ages, the contents degrade and mix.

Overall I’d steer clear of this method.

Sniff Test

This works once you have cracked the egg. There is no mistaking the stench of a rotten egg…Ewww!

Plate Test

If you crack the egg gently onto a plate, watch how it ‘sits.’  A very fresh egg will have a vibrant yellow/orange yolk that sits upright. The white will be firm and ‘tight.’

An older egg will have a yolk that will be flatter, and the white will spread out across the plate. Just because it spreads out doesn’t mean it is not good to eat. It’s just not fresh.

Carton Date

Egg Carton

Clearly, this method will only work on store-bought eggs.
You will notice on the egg carton some information for you. In the photo enclosed, there are 3 pieces of information for you.

  1. Packing plant number
  2. Day of the year, the eggs were packed. Day 164 in the Julian calendar is actually June 13th.
  3. Best by date – the eggs should be removed from the shelf by this date.

Interestingly, store-bought eggs can be up to 2 months old when you get them. Once the eggs are laid, the farmer has 30 days to get them packaged. Once packaged, they can be sold for up to 30 days, by law.
So, your supermarket eggs are safe to eat, just not quite as ‘farm fresh as you would perhaps like.

How Long Do Eggs Last?

Eggs that have been stored correctly can last a considerable time. Provided they are refrigerated at the correct temperature. You can use up eggs to 8 weeks after they have been laid.

If you want to freeze eggs, you will need to break and lightly beat them. I use large ice cube trays as 1 cube = 1 egg. These will keep for up to a year.

Frozen eggs are really best used in baking since they do slightly lose their freshness.

How to Store Eggs Properly

Different countries have different practices when it comes to cleaning and storing fresh eggs.

My Grandma and Mum bought eggs from the local egg man who sold eggs from the back of a horse-drawn cart every week.  As a child, I can remember my family having those same eggs out on the counter, ready for use.

We didn’t have a refrigerator – we survived, never got sick, and enjoyed fresh eggs almost every day.

In our times, things are a bit different for many reasons. The rise of industrial farming has given us cheaper foods but at the cost of perhaps some cleanliness issues, most notably the salmonella outbreaks that occur.

Depressingly, it is to be expected when you cram a few thousand hens into a barn together, close-quarters enable the rapid progression of ill health and disease.

This also applies to your own hens’ eggs too. You should never use mucky eggs for things like fresh mayonnaise dressing. Use only clean eggs for raw egg applications.

Many governments now advise you to store eggs in the fridge for your safety to protect the consumer.

You should store the eggs at 40-45F. Do not store them in the door of the fridge!

The constant opening and closing of the door give a variable temperature. This is the worst place for eggs – store them in a carton on the shelf in the coolest part of the fridge.

Read How to Store Your Chickens’ Freshly Laid Eggs for more.

Cooking Tip
Hard Boiled Egg

If you have ever boiled very fresh eggs to make hard-boiled eggs, you will already know how difficult it is to remove the shell from them.

You should use eggs that are a bit older as they will peel easier.

If you have to use the very fresh eggs, steam them for 20 minutes for bantam eggs and 25 minutes for standard before plunging into cold water.

Repeat the cold water plunge – you want them to stop cooking quickly. Leave aside until cool enough to handle, then peel. One or two may resist you, but most will peel with a bit of care.

egg float test

Should You Wash Your Eggs?

This discussion goes round and round, but there is never a ‘one answer fits all situations.

If your eggs are laid in clean nest boxes, this isn’t a problem, but if you have a bunch of poop-stained eggs, what then?

Mother Nature ingeniously places a protective coating over each egg after it is laid – it is called ‘the bloom.’ The bloom seals goodness in and keeps bacteria out, so clean eggs don’t need washing.

However, those that aren’t so clear – what to do with them? Washing them will remove the protective bloom and leave the egg contents vulnerable to bacteria.

You have three options really:

  • Wash the egg: Do so in hot water; do not allow the egg to sit in the water. Run the hot water and use a cloth or scrubby pad to remove the soil. Some folks use bleach or dish soap; it really isn’t necessary.
  • Sandpaper: If the soil is minimal and dry, use a piece of sandpaper to rub it off.
  • Toss the egg: If it’s grossly contaminated, throw it in the compost.

It really isn’t necessary to clean eggs before use if they are not visibly soiled. Some people wash eggs regardless of ‘just because.’

If you have to wash some of your eggs, it is best to use them first as you remove their protective coating.

Tip: if your eggs are poopy on a regular basis, it’s time to look at why. Do your hens sleep in the nest boxes? If so, it is time for that to stop or you have to change out the bedding daily.

If you have a couple of hens that insist on laying on the floor (there’s always one, believe me), it could be time for some remediation if she is young enough to break the habit.

FAQs about Egg Freshness

My egg yolk is pink, can I eat it?

No, the egg may be contaminated with bacteria, toss that egg. Egg white should be slightly cloudy/clear. There should not be any coloring to the albumin.

My eggs have black spots inside. What are they?

Black or green spots are indicative of mold. Toss it out. Brown or red spots are known as ‘meat’ spots, and although unattractive, they are safe to eat.

There is a blood sport in my egg?

This is off-putting but safe to eat. This is caused by a blood vessel breaking during the ovulation of the hen. Very occasionally, there can be what seems to be quite a lot of pinkish blood. If in doubt – toss it out.

Our Choice for All-In-One Automatic Chicken Coop Door

Happy Coop Door - Weatherproof Automatic Chicken Coop Door Open/Close with Timer/Light Sensor, Predator Resistant Self-Locking Gears, Protection Sensor
  • Plug and Play Design - Takes 10 minutes to install the door
  • Up to 6 Months of Power with AA batteries - You don't need an outlet for the door to work, it functions on 4 AA batteries or a 6V battery (adapter included)
  • Protection Sensor - Built-in sensor when closing to detect when there is an obstruction under the door to prevent injury to chickens
  • Protects Chickens From Predators - Due to it's design, the notches the gear uses to open and close the door act as a self locking mechanism that prevents predators from breaking into the chicken coop. With this your chickens are protected and you can enjoy fresh eggs in the morning
  • Door Will Open if Hell Freezes Over, Rain or Shine - Our weatherproof design has been tested to work during rainy weather as well as extreme cold temperatures as cold as 5°F

Our Choice of Treats for Our Chickens

HAPPY GRUBS - ULTIMATE MIXTURE OF WHOLE, HALF, AND POWDER OF BSFL FEED - CHICKEN FEED MIXTURE - 50X-80X More Calcium Than Meal Worms - NON-GMO, Molting Treatment, Great For Wild Birds, Reptiles, Ducks
  • Egg Armor For Your Girls Eggs - Mixture of whole, half, bits AND POWDER of black soldier fly larvae that you can mix in your chicken's feed. It increases the strength of your girls' eggshells.
  • Healthier Feathers - This product is better than bulk dried mealworms and helps keep your girls' feathers healthy and grow back quicker during molting season.
  • Laying More Eggs - Because of the nutrient dense profile of dried black soldier fly larva, your hen's egg production will increase!
  • Totally Safe for Reptiles and Other Birds - Happy Grubs is worm food that can also be enjoyed as bird food, reptile food, and turtles as a treat!
  • Easy-To-Use Scooper - Our bag comes with a scooper that makes our bsfl mixture and powder easy to pour into a bowl or add to your typical chicken feed. It also has a clip so you can clip it onto the resealable bag. You can use it for feeding your other pets too!

Summary

We hope you enjoyed this article and can now do the float test knowing that it is reliable. You may not need it for your hens’ eggs, but now and then, you might have to buy eggs from the store!

When you think about it, eggs are remarkable creations, really, a neat little package that can grow to become a chick if fertilized. If not, it can nourish you and your family, giving you a meal in a shell!

One egg contains 6g protein, 5g fat, and many trace elements such as zinc, iodine, selenium, and course vitamins such as B12 and D – all for 70 calories!

Have fun practicing your float tests! Let us know how you get on in the comments section below…

Egg Float Test

26 thoughts on “Egg Float Test: Is it a Myth?

    1. I just started keeping chickens this spring and have referenced your site many times. Thank you for all the great information and time you have put into it! I now have chicken fever and have a perfect understanding of chicken math LOL

  1. Good information.
    Sometimes my yolks are broken coming out of the shell, even though they have been handled well and are fresh. Have not found an answer as to what might cause this. Any comment?

    1. We also have had a problem this summer with yolks broken when we crack the egg. We have had chickens for many years and have never had this problem before. What could be the cause? We have several different breeds of chickens, they are free ranging.

  2. My father in law had eggs in his fridge that were 3 months past the best by date.. so I decided just for fun to do a little experiment. I tried the float test on 18 eggs. They all floated except one, why is this?

    1. Were these farm raised eggs that were washed or unwashed, or were they store bought?
      Claire

  3. Incorrect info. Floating eggs have more to do with the age of the hen. As the hens get older, the air space in the egg expands.

    1. Thank you! Many reasons why eggs will float. So many eggs being wasted by this silly “float test”.

  4. I have a bantam cochin who lays eggs that often float from the day she lays it. The shell is very delicate and there will be an air pocket when I crack the egg. We’ve been tossing them because they float. Are these safe to eat, even though they float?

        1. Bob, you likely won’t see this, since it’s been so long, but just in case; your eggs are likely fine. Eggs can float for many reasons, not just “age” or being “bad”. Floating is a waste of time. Crack open into a separate bowl. THEN, if your eyes or nose are in doubt, throw it out. You know what a “good” egg should look and smell like. I seriously doubt your chicken is laying rotten eggs, but this is the only real way to determine if she is.

  5. If you wash the eggs, you should dry and then coat them with a drop of cooking oil to seal the pores on the shell (mimic the bloom) until use. I subscribe to the counter top storage method in an egg skelter always using the oldest eggs first – or dating them with a grease pencil in peak laying season. So far, no issues. I have old tires mounted for nest boxes, peat moss is sterile and I put a little DE in the bottom for mite control… little bedding on top clean eggs except for rainy weeks from muddy feet.

  6. Got 92 chickens kept is a cage only 50 lay eggs since November 2019 tried supplements nothing has changed please advise

  7. Let me preface this with the fact I’ve been a cook for 20+ years. Smell test is the most accurate, if you pull your head away when you smell them because it smells so bad don’t eat, if you’re not sure they smell bad, don’t eat. If they float, crack ’em and smell. I’ve eaten many floating eggs that smelled good and were fine to be eaten.

    1. Thank you! Eggs can float for many reasons, not just “age”. So many eggs wasted by this float test nonsense. If everyone relied on the float test on store bought eggs, no one would continue to buy any, as the vast majority would be “bad”.

    1. No. If it’s fertilized then the white dot on the yoke will have a faint white bullseye around it. The red means broken blood vessel

  8. My hens had about 27 eggs in their nesting box for about 4 weeks. I decided that they were not sitting on them, so I pulled them, candled them and then did the float test. To my surprise, none of them were developing and none of them were spoiled. That night we had eggs and sausage for dinner, and I used some of those very same eggs and they tasted as fresh as day one. So I do believe in the float test and that it does work. We have since used all of those eggs for meals.

  9. VERY informative. Got some eggs from a friend and was not sure if they were fertilized. I did a float test and will soon find out if they are edible, but they passed the test ! I am assuming that fertile eggs WOULD float ?

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