CO2: Human Trash, Plant Treasure

CO2, the stuff that all air-breathing animals get rid of and all plants thrive on, occurs naturally at approximately 300-400ppm (parts per million) and while plants can exist just fine with the CO2 in the air, elevating CO2 levels will greatly improve your plant’s life.  To better understand how important CO2 is Look at the photosynthesis equation below. It demonstrates how CO2 along with a few other components (light and water) are used to make necessary sugars, Kind of like how food is used in humans.

Since CO2 is obviously a photosynthesis equation superstar problems will arise when there isn’t enough.  When levels drop below 300ppm plants are not getting the amount they need and will go into survival mode, stopping growth and photosynthesis almost completely. Not having enough CO2 in the air is common when fresh air is not being introduced regularly to the plants living area, such as a tent, closet or sealed off the room and depending on how active plants are CO2 can be used up in a matter of hours.

Ok, so now that we’ve gone over how important CO2 is to plants, let’s talk about how elevated levels will improve their livesTomato.

Prepare for plant excellence when CO2 concentrations between 1000-1500ppm are achieved. When living in a CO2 enriched environment growth rates are increased by up to 30%, leaf growths are increased, measurably thicker and are slower to wilt. Stem and branch growth is also increased, and with more branching come more flower sites, an extra added benefit. Positive CO2 effects can be even seen at the cellular level. Cells that have been enriched with CO2 are more densely packed together and have a strengthened structure, which allows the plant to bear more weight.  Finally, CO2 causes the stomata of the plant to stay partially closed, this helps slow the loss of water vapor from the plant. Please keep in mind though as the saying goes “too much of a good thing can cause harm” so don’t go overboard.

By now I’m sure you’re saying to yourself “Self, I need to add CO2” and you may be wondering how to go about it, well you’re in luck because that’s what we’re going over next!

CO2 tankThere are many ways to go about adding CO2, one of the most common ways is with a tank and regulator (such as the Reg-1 or the Active Air CO2 system). Generally, the tank is filled every so often (you take it to be filled) with CO2 and connected to a regulator that is set to disperse a set amount. This method is pretty risk-free meaning there is no fire hazard and no chance toxic gas leaks. The Price point can be a little spendy with costs consisting of the tank itself, the regulator and needing to refill the tank every so often(approximately every 2 months).

There are also CO2 generators. These work by having a pilot light burning natural gas or propane at a steady flow set by an internal flow meter. When running a CO2 generator it is important to remember that with flame and gases there is the potential for fire, and if gas is not completely burned toxic gases can be released into the air in addition to raising the ambient room temperature.  The price point for this option is slightly higher than other options, with the unit cost and prices for gas. Then there is natural CO2 production. Some people prefer to produces their own by concocting their own mixtures by fermenting, or composting.


There is however a much easier way of utilizing natural CO2 production, EZCO2 is a simple “set it and forget it” hassle-free way of providing plants with CO2 for 6-8 months. This method is the biggest bang for your buck the easiest to use, there also is no danger of fire or toxic gases and it doesn’t smell. As the EZCO2 bag continually produces CO2 there is no reason to turn on and off exhaust fans, unlike the above-mentioned options.

CalCarbThere is a new product on the market that is able to “give” plants CO2. CalCarb, a foliar is sprayed on the underside of leaves to give your plants calcium carbonate.

When sprayed on the underside of the leaves Calcarb enters the stomata and then, after some pretty cool chemistry, produces CO2 as a by-product inside the plant.



With sheer excellence, there is always some sort of downside, even if it may be small, so let’s go over that real quick. With your plants excelling they are going to need a little more attention than before. This is because plants are going to be growing faster and using more water. As The law of limitations ( or Liebig’s law of minimums for the science geeks) states “that growth is controlled not by the total amount of resources available, but by the scarcest resource (limiting factor).” Meaning in order for CO2 to work its magic there also needs to be enough food, water, and light for the plant. Lastly, if fluorescent lighting is the primary light source, saving you the money, CO2 enrichment isn’t going to work because the fluorescents are producing enough light to allow plants to process the extra CO2.

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