When you buy a bag of in-shell or cracked pecans, you need to put in a little work to get to the nutritious pecan kernel inside. It’s a fun way to pass some time and space out your snacking, but what happens to the pecan shells once you’re done? What good are they once the edible parts are gone? As it turns out, pecan farms have found several uses for those shells, and there are a few ways you can use those shells yourself.
Simulated wood, also called bonded wood, is a way to use a special kind of resin to bond sawdust and wood scraps together and put them to work. Plywood is similar, but simulated wood is less durable even though it offers the look and grain patterns of real wood. Some simulated wood is pure plastic, but ground-up pecan shells fused with resin provides a more realistic look and feel.
Pecan shells burn just fine on a regular wood fire, and as they burn they release a warm pecan smell. You can throw a few pecan shells onto a fireplace or an outdoor fire pit to spread that smell around or you can toss them into a charcoal grill and infuse your meats with pecan smoke.
Once you’re done shelling your cracked pecans, you can collect the shells in a pile and leave them outside. Over time the shells will start to break down into mulch, which means they aren’t good for providing plant nutrients but you can spread them through your garden to help the ground retain moisture and make it harder for weeds to spread. You can make the process go faster by grinding up the shells before leaving them outside.
Pecan shells can still look like pecans after you’ve pried out the kernel. Save a few mostly whole shells and you can use them as decorations for fall centerpieces, wreaths, and other organic decorations. Pecan shells are no good for eating, but you don’t have to throw them away once you’ve eaten your cracked pecans. Aside from the industrial uses pecan shells have, ordinary people can find a few good uses for them if they have a garden or charcoal grill. Either way, you should think twice before you toss out some perfectly good shells.