Notes: Workshop on Effective Micro-organisms [EN]

Hi !

I will post today this notes taken from a workshop I was participating a while ago, with some overview on the method to cultivate and use the Effective Micro-organisms (EM).

Effective micro-organisms

When we’re talking about effective micro-organisms (EM) we mostly mean a bunch of different species of micro-organisms with beneficial effects for processes in all natural environments. Effective Microorganisms consist of beneficial and non-pathogenic microorganisms such as Lactic Acid Bacteria, Yeast and Phototrophic Bacterias, which are found in many places in the nature: on our skin, in the water, in the air, in the food etc. By choosing certain kinds of micro-organisms and by increasing their amount in a certain place we can positively affect the environment in different ways.


And before going more deeply in the way HOW we can actually get these beneficial results and make powerful and magnificent EM liquid by ourselves, I’m gonna tell you what kind of things EMs can actually do:

  • Cleaning your waste waters from the sink, shower, washing machine.
  • Take away bad smells in the house from pipes, bathroom, ecc
  • Making the soil richer in nutrients
  • Making stagnant / smelling water pools clear again
  • Deleting visible and smelling moulds from a house wall
  • Making Bokashi Compost (decomposing method with more nutrients and less greenhouse gases)
  • Destroying smell of ammoniac in stables
  • Healing some skin conditions (excema)
  • Healing some stomach problems (diarrhoea)

The Internet is full of other different purposes where you can use EMs! But let’s get into the recipe now – this is how you create your own colony of effective micro-organisms!

Preparing the “cloudy” water

    1. Put a bunch of (ecological) rice and natural or boiled water (to avoid chlorine) to a jar, and shake them for a good while. After the water has turned cloudy take the rice away. In this way we keep the water full of rice starch that many microorganisms are hungry of.
    2. Put the cloudy water into a glass jar, and cover the jar loosely (to avoid big things and insects crawling in, and to let the air flow). Let the jar stay 3–6 days in room temp (20–30 degrees).
    3. When it’s ready, you’ll see three layers in the glass jar. There’s a film on the surface, there’s the cloudy water and then there’s some solid sediments at the bottom.

      Preparing the “cheese”

      1. We want to get rid of the thin layers on the surface and the bottom solid sediments and work only with the cloudy water in the middle. So you can take the film away with a clean spoon and then filter the rest trough a cloth, or you can use a syringe to remove only the middle part.
      2. Put the filtered water in a bigger container and add 10 parts of milk. So to 1 litre of cloudy water you add 10 litres of milk. The milk shouldn’t be UHT, and better organic. We add milk cause we want to reproduce the  Lactic Acid Bacterias, and they are almost the only one that can survive in the milk.
      3. Cover the container loosely, and put it into a warm, shady place for ~10 days.
      4. After 10 days you will have a wobbly layer of “cheese” floating on the surface and the water has turned a bit yellow. Again we want to get rid of the solid part – so you can take most of it with a big spoon and filter this, and then when there are only a bit of cheese left you can filter the rest of the water (e.g. use a towel). Be careful to sieve out all the white cheese bits from your liquid. Animals will be happy to eat this cheese.

        Now you have your own colony of EM!

        1. You can store it in a fridge for a year or longer. You can keep it in a airtight plastic bottle, or in a container with an airlock. (From the plastic bottle you should squeeze the extra air out).
        2. Don’t shake it, don’t store it in a direct contact with sunlight, and keep it at a cold temperature.
        3. If you want to store the liquid longer or if you want to make sure that it won’t die too soon, you could add some sugar molasses in a ratio of 1 : 1 (= as much sugar molasses as you have liquid). Be careful to mix the molasses properly in order to have a homogeneous liquid.

          Activation/ Multiplication

          1. You can use the EM already now, but you can also multiply the amount of it by “activating” it. For doing this, you need to add the sugar molasses (as described above in part 3. c) in the EM to make activation work.
          2. Add 20 parts of water to the sugary EM, and Leave the container for +/- a week in a stable temperature of 32–35°C. During the multiplying process the gases produced as a result of the fermentation will need to be released daily; you can either use a fermentation pipe (airlock), or a lid that releases gases without letting air inside, or you can release the gases manually. Otherwise the bottles will explode.

You have multiplied the amount of your EM! You can activate the EM only once but the benefit is enormous, cause you have 20 times more liquid to use.

When the pH-value is between 3.5 and 3.9 the EM are ready to use. If you do not have PH test stripes you can check if the liquid smells and tastes sour sweet. Stored in an airtight, dark place the multiplied EM can last for months. Even after years properly stored, EM do not turn bad easily. More likely is that the mixture becomes more sour with time or white flocks (yeast) appear on the surface. Both of which are positive signs.

If the serum starts to smell rotten and the pH-value is above 4.0, it is not suitable for any use.

This topic is not discovered very well in a scientific way (no wonder, because it could accidentally inspire people to solve problems without having to use some commercial and chemical solutions). So this field is very open to experimenting by yourself! There are no very fixed amounts of ingredients in the recipes, and also the purposes of use and the preparing methods have a little bit of variation. But this is quite a common method tested by various DIY “experts”. Just test yourself about it.

Please also check out the HOW TO CULTIVATE EM Fanzine:

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