The Egg Float Test: How Old is That Egg?

In a perfect world, your chickens would lay eggs in their nesting boxes each morning, you would collect them, bring them into the house and prepare them to eat. Mmmm, fresh eggs every day like clockwork!

Of course, real life doesn't work quite like that. It seems it's either feast or famine around here - too many eggs or not enough.

When you have extra eggs and they start to pile up, unless you mark or otherwise keep track of how old the eggs are, it's easy to lose track.

Sometimes I even find an egg tucked in a corner of one of the nesting boxes that I previously missed. And ducks are notorious for hiding their eggs under the straw.

If you let your chickens free range, you might stumble across a nest of eggs that a sneaky broody hen has hidden and have no idea when they were laid. 

These are affectionately called 'yard eggs' and normally perfectly fine to eat as long as they aren't cracked.

(Of course if you have a rooster, they could be fertile and if the hen has been consistently sitting on them, they could be developing...but that's a topic for another post. But don't worry, as long as the hen is still amassing her clutch and not sitting full-time, they won't have started to develop yet.)

Anyway, my point is that there are lots of reasons why you might start to lose track of just how old some of the eggs on your counter are.

But there's an easy way to tell just how old an egg is. And I'll show you!

The Egg Float Test 

Eggs will keep a lot longer than you probably realize.  Generally, an egg will last un-refrigerated out on the counter at room temperature, unwashed, for at least two weeks.

Unwashed and stored in the refrigerator, an egg will last a lot longer - more than three months. Even washed eggs will last for about two months in your refrigerator.   

But when in doubt, just do the Egg Float Test.  It's simple. Just fill a clear glass with warm water (cold water can cause any bacteria on the shell to be drawn into the egg) and gently drop the egg in.

Freshly laid eggs will lie flat on the bottom of the glass.

~Very fresh egg, probably not more than a few days old~

As the egg ages and air seeps through the pores in the eggshell, the air sac inside the egg enlarges as the inside of the egg start to dry out. That causes one end of the egg to rise.

By the time it's two to three weeks old, an egg will begin to lift up off the bottom of the glass.  The egg is also losing valuable nutrients as it ages.

~After a week or so, one end of the egg will start to rise off the bottom of the glass. Still perfectly good to eat~
By the time the egg is a month or two old, it will be visibly angled in the glass, but still perfectly good to eat, and by three months the egg will mostly likely be standing straight up.

However, as long as one end of the egg is still touching the bottom of the glass, the egg is fine; and while it won't taste as fresh, it will peel far better if you hard-boil it.

~Egg has visibly aged and air is entering through the pores. Still good to eat, but not fresh~

Floating eggs are very old and have most likely gone bad and should be thrown out.

Some dispute that and say that a floating egg still might be okay to eat, but at the very least, by the time an egg starts to float it is extremely old and so much air (and possibly bad bacteria) has passed through the shell that the egg now floats.

Some say you can still eat a floating egg, but why chance it, especially when you have fresh eggs at your disposal? I would toss any egg that floats.

If you're still in doubt, shake the egg. If you hear sloshing inside, it has gone bad and shouldn't be eaten. And of course if you crack an egg and it smells bad...really bad....then it's no good to eat obviously.

So next time you discover a broody hen's secrets cache, or aren't able to keep up with the egg supply in your refrigerator, don't throw the eggs away, just pop them into a glass of water before using them.

Most likely they are perfectly good to use.

Remember though, that dunking the eggs will remove the natural 'bloom' on the egg that keeps them fresh, so once you've done the Float Test on an egg you should use it right away or refrigerate it.

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  1. Thanks for the post! I don't have any chickens, but I enjoyed reading the article. It may help if I buy eggs from someone local. Have a great week! Blessings, Nancy

  2. I do this all the time when I forget to label my refrigerator eggs! Sometimes it is difficult to keep moving them around and they end up in a bowl until I can sort. And then one or two get overlooked, well you know how that is! Good advice.

  3. Off topic...sort of...I think your eggs are lovely. I love the pictures you posted. The differing colors, whether or not they're speckled - so beautiful!

    On topic...I've done the float test with my girls for homeschool. They thought that was the "coolest" thing!

  4. The eggs are so pretty! I always do the test when I see my carton of eggs are past the date. How lucky you are to have fresh eggs!

  5. so interesting. I have always done the float test, but didn't realise the details i.e that the point still touching the bottom of the glass, means it's still fine to eat... also the detail about the coating (bloom) being washed off after floating, which will age it much quicker. I've instinctively not washed my eggs, whenever I go to do it (and often they're still moist from coming out when we get them from the basket) I can't bring myself to wash it.
    So does this mean that egg's in cartons on the shelves aren't washed, because they'd age quicker wouldn't they?

    Also, a Q. My two girls have been laying for a few months now, and I have wondered, when they have (only a couple of times) layed what I've called a 'stress egg', I've been too scared to open and eat it. A stress egg, being one that is deformed due to being 'held in'... sometimes a 'ring' or a few barely there rings where I'm assuming she's 'squeezed' to hold it in... one was even flatish on one side with almost little 'folds,' and the shell has hardened in that shape. I wonder if the egg would truly be healthy or edible ...?

    1. Hi. The eggs are fine to eat, but if you're worried, just scramble them up and feed them to the chickens...

  6. Every chicken owner is curious about this. Great post!

  7. How do you know who laid what egg? I am sure this is a simple answer but since my chicks are not laying yet I am curious.

    1. Betsy, I only have one or two of any one breed, so I can tell by color..and even two hens that lay the same color egg, they seem to have a distinctive shade and/or shape so all I have to do is catch a hen laying once and I can pretty much identify her eggs in the future.

  8. Put an egg in water. If it floats it's a witch. If it drowns, it was innocent. Sorry, just couldn't resist!

  9. Great, easy way to check eggs! I've heard of this before but never knew exactly how it worked. Thanks!

  10. I can't wait to tell my hubby about the float test, he is always wondering if his eggs are ok or not? Thanks for the tips!

  11. Awesome post! Thank you, Lisa. ♥

  12. hmm, so do you clean your eggs off with water before you put them in the fridge? You mentioned using them right away after they have been submerged in water?

    thanks for sharing at Repurposed Ideas Weekly.

    1. Hi Marlo. Eggs shouldn't be washed until just before you use them. They have a natural bloom on them that protects from air and bacteria. Once you wash them, they start to lose their freshness.

  13. Oh, how interesting! I'm always wondering about eggs and now will have to try your test. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

  14. Very nice photos. I knew this trick. We used to raise a lot of birds. I do miss them but can't have them in an RV. lol visiting from

  15. Great post! Love the photos with it, too!

    BTW, your Pinterest button goes to the wrong place. :-/

  16. Informative post especially because it explains the period where an egg can still be eaten. Doing that float test is not that complex and it guarantees that it is safe to eat it.

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