One of the most crucial aspects of any hydroponic grow operation is choosing the right nutrients for your cannabis crop. So, it’s no surprise that many cultivators are curious about which nutrient system and what ingredients work best for their grow. The biggest question growers ask themselves is whether they should learn to make their own nutrients, rather than purchasing a premixed solution from a dedicated hydroponics store.
While you might believe that learning how to make your own cannabis nutrients will save you time and money in the long run, using DIY plant nutrients can in fact seriously derail your grow. Instead of being a simple fix, these DIY hydroponic nutrients will cost you in every sense, and can even put your health at risk, plus the health of your cultivation crew and your customers.
Let’s now examine the many risks and problems associated with making homemade nutrients for marijuana, and explain how you can avoid these risks with pre-made, cannabis-specific nutrient solutions.
Are you putting yourself and your grow at risk? Read on to learn more.
MYTH: Learning How To Make Your Own Cannabis Nutrients Is Better And Cheaper
There is an unfortunate misconception that mixing nutrients for your cannabis crop is a simple and easy process anyone can do at home. Numerous articles and videos online promote this myth, offering the recommendation to new growers that they should avoid the store-bought options in favor of homemade hydroponic nutrients.
Take this article from Dope Magazine, which tells growers that they could easily replicate premixed, store-bought solutions:
Most growers go straight to household names, as they’re easily accessible. Not knowing how these products differ from one another isn’t necessarily your fault; manufacturers don’t want you to recognize the simplicity of these products, because you could probably easily make them yourself.
Other online sources offer advice complete with recipes on how to make your own cannabis nutrients. On these sites, growers are advised to purchase a large variety of chemicals and mix them together in precise measurements.
According to Garden Culture Magazine:
For some, this seems a smart way to keep the cost of the indoor garden to the bare minimum. After all, the price of pre-mixed nutes at garden shops includes costs that have nothing to do with the quality of what’s in the bottle.
FACT: There Are Many Valuable Reasons To Avoid DIY Plant Nutrients
Many growers naively take the advice listed in the excerpts above, thinking they can reverse engineer ingredients listed on the label of cannabis-specific nutrients to create their own homemade solution for their crop. In the process, growers end up killing their plants — or find themselves dealing with a host of other issues.
Indeed, making your own hydroponic nutrients can lead to many unforeseen problems, such as:
- Dead crops
- Lower yields
- Lower quality plants
- Heavy metal residue in plants
- Exposure to toxins
- Wasted time and money
Unless you have an extremely in-depth understanding of how these chemicals interact — both with each other and with your cannabis crop — then messing with online recipes or experimenting with making your own hydroponic solution recipe is more likely to end in disaster than success.
In actuality, premixed nutrient solutions are far from simple, and the added cost does correspond directly to the quality of the solution. The biggest quality difference between cannabis-specific nutrients and homemade nutrients is that cannabis solutions are mixed precisely by a team of scientists, biologists and botanists who have decades in research and development under their collective lab coats, and understand exactly what is needed to get the best out of cannabis nutrients. These solutions are rigorously tested and tweaked until they produce the best results possible.
Replicating this kind of process is impossible without trained professionals, expensive equipment, a sterile and high-tech laboratory, and way more time and money than makes sense for the average home grower.
Licensed producers and high-end, experienced growers already understand they need experts and new technology for many aspects of their grow operation. For example, they’ll hire electricians to wire up the electrical infrastructure in their grow op. You would be foolish to think, “I’ll just wing this and figure it out from YouTube,” when setting up your voltage. For such a dangerous job, it’s clear that an expert is worth the money. After all, if you try it yourself, you might end up electrocuting yourself or burning the house down.
Growers also understand that it makes sense to buy clones that are proven producers, rather than taking their chances with whatever clones or seeds they happen to find. Why risk your yield on an unproven line of cannabis genetics?
What many growers don’t realize is that nutrients are just as important to yield as clones are, plus they’re dangerous to mess up, much like your electrical wiring. Nutrients are just one more area where it’s much safer and more cost effective to go with the experts.
MYTH: Mixing DIY Cannabis Nutrients Won’t Affect Your Health
The ingredients in nutrients are far from harmless, and when handled improperly can be downright life-threatening. Take potassium nitrate, for example. While it is nothing more than a type of salt that can be used for many household purposes, it is also one of the main ingredients in gunpowder. This salt is generally safe and not combustible on its own, but when mixed with certain ingredients, including other nutrients like sulfur, the resulting solution can become explosive. And this is not the only nutrient that can increase the combustibility of other chemicals. If you don’t have a full understanding of these interactions, dabbling with mixing these chemicals could put you in harm’s way.
These nutrients can also be dangerous to mix yourself because they may produce irritating fumes, and there are negative side effects associated with accidental ingestion. When rigorous scientific procedures are absent, people handling these substances may be overexposed and experience effects that include:
- Irritation of the nose, throat and digestive tract
- Abdominal cramping
- Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
- Irritation of the respiratory tract
- Shortness of breath
Problems also arise from common mistakes, like handling these chemicals without proper protective gear like gloves and masks, or mixing nutrients in an enclosed space. Accidentally ingesting chemicals can happen when growers eat, smoke or even touch their face after mixing chemicals. Unless you have the space, gear and training to follow all the guidelines for handling these chemicals, you may be putting yourself (or your employees or loved ones) at serious risk. This opens you up to liability, as well as the potential health problems associated with chemical contact.
Instead, leave the mixing to the professionals so as to avoid any risk, and to save you the time and money needed to invest in cultivating and selling your crop, rather than making sure your DIY nutrient mixing is occurring safely in a controlled environment.
FACT: Mixing Your Own Nutrients Can Risk Your Grow — And Still Cost You More
Aside from risking your personal health, mixing your own nutrients can also negatively impact the grow itself. Cannabis-specific nutrient solutions are precisely balanced to give you the right amount of each ingredient. Some nutrients that aren’t specific to cannabis can help your crop in small amounts, but will sooner or later kill your plants if you use too much.
While you may think that mixing your own nutrients might save money in the short run, if your cannabis crop doesn’t make it to harvest, it won’t matter how much money you saved at the front end.
On the other hand, if you insist on mixing your own salts yet don’t use enough of the key ingredients, you’re likely to end up with a useless nutrient solution and consequently a much lower yield. You will undoubtedly end up making significantly less profit than you would have with a tested nutrient solution.
Ironically, these attempts to save money may actually put a severe dent in your bottom line.
Many growers believe they are already successfully making their own nutrients, but because they are busy running their grow operation, they don’t have time to check and see if their solutions are cost effective. Rather than the scientific testing employed by nutrient companies, they have to rely on memory and visual cues, which is often misleading and rarely accurate.
Chelation is the science and art of making nutrient elements water-soluble and stable so they can be taken in by roots to optimize the crop’s diet and reduce heavy metal toxicity in your plants. When science is used to test how growers’ DIY nutrients compare to cannabis-specific chelated blends, we consistently see higher yields and more potent crop quality with the latter, every time.
MYTH: Cannabis-Specific Nutrients Won’t Outperform Your Homemade Nutrients
Cannabis-specific nutrient solutions provide value. And when you do the math, the amount of money you’ll make with higher crop yields and better quality product will gain far more than you could ever save by mixing your own nutrients.
Consider a small, four-light hydroponic grow. The nutrients may cost around $360. But if these nutrients provide even a small increase in yield — say, an ounce per light — then the cost of the nutrients will be earned back, with an additional 30–40 percent of their cost in profits.
That doesn’t even take into account the potential increase in price for higher quality products. If you’re able to get an extra $100 per pound, you would make double the cost of the nutrients, even without a higher yield.
And then we must consider the cost in labor and equipment that it takes to prepare your own nutrient solutions. Staffing chemists, biologists, botanists, purchasing lab and testing equipment, and paying for hundreds of hours of labor all add up to much more than a mere $360.
Avoid The Hassle. Go With Advanced Nutrients
Mixing your own nutrients may seem like a good idea, but it can be very risky. Why not avoid the hassle and hidden costs by going with professionals whose entire business is dedicated to creating the best nutrients possible? Advanced Nutrients focuses on research and development, testing of all products, and providing support when you need it. This frees you, the grower, to do what you do best — cultivating healthy, high-yielding cannabis.