Tomato Juice in Your Worm Bin?

Here is a recent “burning” question (could be viewed as a pun given the subject matter, but I’m actually referring to our recent contest) from Richard R.:

Yesterday my children found an old bottle of v8 vegetable juice that had been sitting in the sun for about 6 months. I opened it and it didn’t have a foul smell at all, instead smelled like tomato sauce. I poured it onto the top of my worm inn and my worms flipped out! They acted as if it burned them! They were literally spinning over and over, turning, the way a dog rolls over! I felt so terrible I quickly diluted the mass blob of v8 juice with water and the worms who moved out of the sludge settled down! The only ingredient that was worrisome was the citrus. Did I burn my worms? Is it safe to add v8 in moderation? I made sure to mix it up with rabbit manure and newspaper after it burned them as a way to ensure they don’t continue getting burned. I hope this was the type of question you were after!

Hi Richard,
While I’m sure pure lemon juice wouldn’t be the greatest thing to pour on your worms – and yes, it might cause them to writhe around (don’t plan on testing to find out!) – I’m pretty sure I know what the real culprit was in this case.

Did you happen to notice if SALT was included as an ingredient?

Last time I checked, all of these tomato/veggie cocktails (and regular tomato juice in a can) contained a boatload of sodium (which is why the “health benefits” of drinking a lot of this stuff are questionable at best).

Worms are extremely sensitive to salts, so it’s really important to be careful with foods that do contain a fair amount of it. I don’t go overboard with this (eg. avoiding every single morsel of food that might have some salt in it), personally, but I definitely avoid things like potato chips, other salted snack foods, and…well…V8!
(sorry Richard – couldn’t resist! Hope that doesn’t…uhhh…rub salt in the wound! lol).

All teasing etc aside, it’s important to assure you that you’re definitely NOT the only person to harm worms with salts! And, by the way, your water-bath rescue attempt was definitely right on target!

Another common scenario occurs when vermicomposters use bagged potting soil for bedding in their vermicomposting system. These soil blends often contain fertilizer salts, which can also have a similar impact on the worms.

Just as an aside, I did a quick search to see how much salt V8 contains and I found this interesting article:

V8 Vegetable Juice – Twice the Salt of McD’s French Fries

The title says it all! Yikes!

Anyway – again, please be assured I’m not picking on you here, Richard. I am really glad you shared this one with me since I think this could help a lot of others avoid harming their worms in a similar manner!

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  1. I really appreciate your response! I never thought of SALT!!! I am seriously surprised at the amount of salt that v8 contains as well! I will definitely avoid that stuff in the future!

    I recently started an outside worm bin which can be found on my blog ( and have been adding the newspaper that sits under our rabbit cage and collects all the bodily fluids, but recently read that rabbit urine contains very high concentrations of salts, so I will avoid adding it in the future and will instead add the urine soaked newspaper to my compost pile (non worm related).

    Once again, I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question and informing us all of the perils of salt!

    • John W.
    • November 2, 2012

    lol…my wife (who rolls her eyes when she hears about my worms) laughed so hard at this story.
    I read the question when you posted it on the monthly contest post….I never thought of salt either.

    • John W.
    • November 2, 2012

    @richard: enjoyed scanning your blog. My sisters want me to start one, and my wife would like it to. I always pester her to update hers, and she can’t return the favor at the moment 🙂

    • Bentley
    • November 2, 2012

    You should definitely have your own blog, John!!

    • chris
    • November 6, 2012


    What is McD’s French Fries? it that food???

  2. Hey John,
    Sorry for the delayed response! I appreciate you keeping an eye on the blog! I started mine as a way to document my progress, teach others and learn from others as well. Life is an experiment we are all a part of, so why not share the results? I look forward to your blog when you get around to it! Take care!
    – Richard R

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