If you make your own Kombucha then chances are you have plenty of extra SCOBY friends hanging around. You might have them hanging out in a SCOBY hotel. Or possibly, you get creative and find other things to do with them.
There are quite a few blog posts out there which list all the wonderful things you can do with extra SCOBY… those wonderful bundles of probiotic joy. Some seemed plausible. Others seemed a little out there. But I’m up for most anything and thought I would give some of the suggestions I stumbled on a try.
Ahem. I now know what NOT to do with extra SCOBY.
Today I am passing on some words of wisdom. Wisdom I gained through trial and error. Lots and lots of error. Do as you please but consider yourself warned…
4 Things To Never Do With Your Extra SCOBY
#1 – Do Not Try To Turn Your SCOBY Into A Dry/Oily Scalp Treatment
The idea sounded like a good one! The power of the SCOBY when applied to a dry scalp was apparently “mind-blowing.” Dry, itchy scalp would be a thing of the past. Your hair would shine like never before. It would be soft, bouncy, and ah-maze-ing! I could buy into this. After all, the SCOBY does contain lots of beneficial goodness.
Turns out is creates a HUGE mess, especially if your hair is longer than 1/32 of an inch. As my grandma used to say, “Good grief a-Gertie!”
The general consensus was to put your SCOBY in a blender with a little Kombucha. Blend it all up until you had a thickish, creamy soupy consistency. Then apply it to your scalp (dry) and let it sit for about an hour underneath a shower cap.
I should have known that there was going to be a problem with this method. The little bits of SCOBY chunks had me raising an eyebrow and yet, I still applied it my scalp. Stupid me.
4 weeks later I FINALLY got every last piece of SCOBY out of my hair. Yes, 4 weeks later. What a nightmare. Those little chunks of SCOBY clung to my hair like a dung beetle clings to, well, dung! It was a horrible experience and no, my scalp and hair were none of the things promised to me. I looked like I was shedding chunks of scalp from some bizarre flesh eating disease. My hair was dull and bogged down with SCOBY pieces. I would drop little chunks of sticky goo all over the house, they would stick to my pillow, get all over my clothes. And no matter how much I washed my hair, no matter what I washed it with, no matter whether I blew dried it, brushed it, combed it, raked it…those dang bits of SCOBY would NOT vacate the premises.
The lesson here – never use a SCOBY as a scalp or hair treatment.
#2 – Do Not Use A SCOBY As Ant Bait.
This was my own idea by the way.
Luckily, I am able to keep ants outside where they belong but we must have sign on our fence that says “ants welcome in this yard!” One day they were driving me nuts while I was trying to have a little lawn picnic with my daughter. They came out of nowhere – the big, biting kind. I relocated us to various parts of the yard but they found us within seconds. We could have just gave up and gone inside but I decided that I would make them a meal.
I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. Get an extra SCOBY, put it on a plate, and set it out to lure the ants away from us. Surely they would love it and flock to it.
We moved our picnic and left the SCOBY in its place. Keeping one eye on the ants and another eye on our picnic I was pleased to see that the ants were indeed curious about the SCOBY and engage enough to stay put and check it out. Phew…we could finally eat our lunch.
The ants got mad. No, not mad. Pissed. Really, really pissed. The ants would crawl up on the SCOBY, nibble it maybe (not real sure if they nibbled of were just standing on it), and then jump, and I mean jump off of it. And then they started running around like they were on fire. They were wildly mad. Running every which way and sort of rearing their heads up. This fiasco lasted about five minutes and then the ants stormed our way. They attacked the food we had on the blanket still. They were like dogs with a meaty bone. It was really crazy. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Guess they aren’t fans of probiotics? In any case, I would say that the SCOBY ant bait was a very failed use of an extra SCOBY. I’m just glad they didn’t try to eat me.
If you are curious about some better, natural ways to prevent ants, check out 9 Natural Ways To Prevent and Deter Ants.
#3 – Do Not Attempt To Use SCOBYS As Ice Skates
Yes. You read that right. This was another brilliant idea of my own. Mostly a “hey, we are bored and there is ice on the sidewalk. Let do something dumb.” And what four year old is going to say no to doing something ridiculously stupid with her mother? Mine sure didn’t.
I had just finished peeling off extra SCOBY babies from my brew and had a few older ones that I needed to move out of the SCOBY hotel. They were pretty thick so there was a lot of potential there. I asked my daughter what we should do with them and she just shrugged? “Feed them to the plants?” I asked. “Paint with them?” She just shook her head. Hmmm…
It was one of the only days this past winter where we had actual ice on the sidewalks and I had an ‘aha’ moment. Why not slide around on the SCOBYs? They are pretty slippery anyway and should make great ice skates. So out we went, SCOBYs in hand.
My daughter wanted me to go first so I put the SCOBYs on the sidewalk, gingerly stepped on, made the motion of skating forward, and….nothing. Absolutely nothing. Dang SCOBY stuck to the ice like glue.
SCOBY fail. And so I sat in the freezing cold, prying SCOBY off the sidewalk.
#4 – Do Not Feed Indoor Plants With Extra SCOBY Babies
I have successfully fed my outdoor plants with ground-up SCOBY babies mixed in with some water. They seem to love the probiotics and usually look extra happy and perky for a few days. I have been doing this for years and thought, hey, let’s feed the indoor plants some SCOBY goodness.
I think I forgot the reason why I hadn’t done so before. Trust me, there is a VERY good reason.
For those of you who brew your own Kombucha, you probably are aware that fruit flies LOVE the stuff. Thankfully, I have never ever had an issue with fruit flies but in the back of my mind I am pretty sure I told myself – “Jennifer, don’t grind up and put a SCOBY into the soil of the houseplants. You will be sorry!”
And sorry I was. One morning I blended up some SCOBY friends with water and poured my probiotic elixir onto all of my houseplants. 24 hours later my five-year-old was screaming about “teeny littttttttle bugs mommy…EVERYWHERE MOMMY!!!!!”
Craptastic. I had just opened some portal to the teeny tiny bug world with my SCOBY water. The soil in each and every houseplant was infested with these smaller-than-a-gnat sized bugs. They were in a feeding frenzy too. I marveled at it for about 5 seconds and then went into overdrive trying to rid our plants of all these buggies.
Luckily, they stayed put in the plants as I scurried about pouring Gnatrol all over the soil. I ALWAYS keep some of this handy as it kills fungus based gnat larvae. Anyway, it took a couple of applications and about a week to get rid of all those critters but they finally vanished.
Yeah, so now I remember why I never fed my indoor plants a SCOBY. I suggest you feed your plants other things, like Epson salts and coffee grounds instead.
And there you have it! The 4 things that you should never, ever do with your extra SCOBY!
Curious about Kombucha making? Check out Kombucha Kamp. Hannah is truly the master of the booch.
Have you had some SCOBY mishaps when you tried to re-purpose them? What about successes? What are you favorite ways to re-purpose extra SCOBY babies?
Andrea Fabry says
This is so helpful! I would have totally tried the plant idea. You have spared me great pain. 🙂 Thanks for including the Incredible Edible Band-Aid. They work like a charm.
I think you could still use SCOBY for indoor plants. All you have to do is put a clothe on top so the flies would not get to it.
I compost mine. Is that okay?
I just started composting some extras as well, and lo and behold, fruit flies in my compost bin. I had noticed them, thought “ew” and topped it off with a bag of leaves… just figuring I had too many greens and not enough browns. Now I know the “why” behind the fly! The SCOBY strikes again…
Yes it is although it may attract fruit flies. 😉 SCOBY babies make great compost.
Elli Sparks says
Don’t put your scoby in the garbage disposal if you have a septic system. I read about one gal who used to do that. One day, her septic system stopped working. It seemed full so she called the septic guys. They came over to pump it out. Once they opened it up, they found the problem: several inches of scoby floating on top of liquid in the septic tank. They didn’t know what that thick mat was. They’d never seem anything like it before. She never told them!
I laughed out loud at that one! I can only imagine!!!!
Me too 😂😂😂😂
Omg that is the funniest thing I have ever read.. I laughed the entire way through it.. Thankyou.. oh and not one of those had even occurred to me.
I like the last one. I have fungus gnats coming from my plants and I put a little dish of Kombucha in a plant and it is full of them. Works great!
I think the scoby as a scalp treatment sounds interesting… you would need to use a vitamix to blitz it completely so there are no little bits. I’m gonna give it a go…
I hardly ever laugh out loud but did so reading your post; really funny.
I have scoby babies in a jar that contains my first scoby, which remains unused because I’m a little worried about kombucha tea now that I’ve seen the scoby itself. However, I suppose it’s safe or I would be hearing about kombucha illness or worse, right?
What is someone cannot ingest sugar for health reasons; is there a low-carb version of kombucha, or does it work only with sugar?
Hi Hazel! the SCOBY is coll isn’t it? And perfectly safe. 😉 You can make a different version of Kombucha with honey. This is called Jun. However, the yeasts and good bacteria in your SCOBY “eat” the sugar in your sweet tea to the point that there is hardly any in there at the end of your brewing period. If you are concerned about the sugar content, simply let it ferment a little longer. When it gets just a tad sour, you know almost all the sugar has been used up.
“What is someone cannot ingest sugar for health reasons…”
Sorry, typo: I meant what IF someone….
Does anyone out there in the Kombucha world how many calories in a 1/4 pint of kombucha.
It’ll vary by the recipe.
How did you finally get the scoby out of your hair? yes, I did it, it seems the scobies are eating my hair???
It just took time and a lot of washing. 🙂
Gale Smith says
Your descriprion of the SCOBY hair treatment made me laugh out loud! Thank you for all the ideas and advice. Being a crazy tree hugger myself, I could easily have fallen prey to any of these what not to do ideas!
I’m going to try kombucha tea on my scalp without blending it into bits and after sieving it through a very fine mesh too… I’ve been conditioning my hair with apple cider vinegar for 4 years now and it’s done wonders… I’ve also massively detoxed off commercial shampoos and conditioners which will leave your hair in a mess if you combine the two… wondering if you’d transitioned onto 100% natural hair treatments before you tried it Jennifer???… lol… I’m an intrepid explorer… which I may regret later on today lol… but then again maybe I won’t and I will have luscious locks in about 7 hours time lol XX
There’s a real danger with humans to use themselves as the benchmark for everyone else… when in reality we’re all different and react to things in different ways…. having said this if I regret my adventurous nature I’ll be back to let ya know lol X
Haha! I too am an intrepid explorer! Yes, I was actually making all my own hair care products at the time I tried this. 🙂
OMG, this article made me laugh so, so much. Thank you, because I was thinking about trying the houseplant fiasco, but boy, am I glad I Googled it first! 😀
Christopher Johnson says
Good day to you all. I read your site with interest, having successfully made a bit of kombucha.
I have a few questions about the biochemistry behind it:
1 Is it true that the SCOBY eats, or otherwise neutralises, the caffeine in the black tea?
2 Does the SCOBY feed on other sugars besides sucrose? For example inulin or levulose, which you find in Jerusalem artichokes?
3 Can you make kombucha with mate de coca – the stuff they drink in the high Andes? If yes, would the SCOBY eat the cocaine, so decocainising the tea?
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Hi Christopher! These are great questions! Here you go:
1 Is it true that the SCOBY eats, or otherwise neutralises, the caffeine in the black tea? Yes – it does basically neutralize the caffeine. However, for caffeine sensitive individuals, there could be a wee bit left. It can vary from batch to batch.
2 Does the SCOBY feed on other sugars besides sucrose? For example inulin or levulose, which you find in Jerusalem artichokes? It can given the right conditions. However, almost every SCOBY will need a little bit of real, raw sugar in addition to alternative sweeteners. I know people do a 50/50 blend with a lot of success. Others have done pretty well with a 25% real sugar / 75% alternative blend.
3 Can you make kombucha with mate de coca – the stuff they drink in the high Andes? If yes, would the SCOBY eat the cocaine, so decocainising the tea? I have made Kombucha with Yerba Matte… you can successfully make it with this form of mate de coca but not straight mate de coca. At this time there is no research on whether or not a SCOBY can eat the cocaine.
You might be interested in this online Kombucha Conference starting next week: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2019-virtual-kombucha-conference-online-tickets-51245256943?aff=boochfam&afu=52303008024
Craptastic… my new favorite word 😂
Isn’t that the best word ever????
Jen Harris says
Oh my goodness, best laugh I’ve had in ages 🤣
I try to keep a sense of humor about all my shenanigans. 😉 Glad you enjoyed!
Hi Jen. I have one question please. Is it okay to drink kombucha that a couple of ants managed to crawl into while it was brewing or do I need to throw it all out?
I love this!!!! You should be ok. I think we end up eating more insects that we realize. 😉 If it were me, I would still drink it!
Thank you for your wise post!