Have you heard about the warm water trick for hatching eggs or checking if an egg has a live chick ready to hatch?
It’s not the most commonly known technique, and hopefully, it’s not something you’re going to have to – as it’s used to test an egg that is overdue hatching.
However, if you do have eggs that have been incubating for more than 21 days, here is how you can use warm water or a ‘float test’ to check if the eggs are ready to hatch.
What Is the Warm Water Trick for Hatching Eggs?
The warm water trick for hatching eggs is a simple method for checking to see if an egg is ready to hatch.
All you need is a pot of warm water and a bowl or sink that the egg can be floated in.
To use the warm water trick, place the egg in a bowl or sink of warm water. Be very careful not to turn, shake, or do anything to unsettle or disturb the chick inside!
The water should be 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.7 celsius.
The reason the warm water test works is because there is an air cell that develops inside an egg when a chick is developing properly.
Eggs that are infertile will have an underdeveloped or absent air cell, resulting in the egg not floating and vice versa.
Here is what it means depending on how the egg acts when it’s placed in the water:
Results of an Egg Float Test / Warm Water Trick
After you place an egg gently into warm water, when you let go the egg is going to behave in one of the following ways:
If the egg sinks to the bottom of the water; this means the egg does not have a live chick inside and will not hatch.
If the egg floats below the surface of the water; this means the egg very likely has a live chick inside, and at the very least has gone far into the development process.
If the egg floats at the top of the water above the waterline; this means that the egg had developed for some time, but is now a dud. It’s likely the internal membrane has ruptured causing the egg to dehydrate.
While the warm water test is pretty accurate, I recommend you also candle any eggs you’re not sure about.
Candling an egg simply means shining a light into the shell so you can see a shadow of what’s inside the egg, and usually reveals how developed the embryo is.
Doing this in combination with the warm water test and closely inspecting the shell for signs of pipping over the following hours, and possibly days will ensure you have the highest possible success rate of hatching chicks.
Not to Be Confused With the Fresh/Stale Float Test
This test is not to be confused with the float test that is commonly used to check if an egg is fresh and safe for eating.
When placing an egg in water to test if it’s fresh, cold water is used and if the egg sinks it’s safe to eat – while if it floats it’s not fresh.
This is because as eggs age, the shell – which is porous – allows more air inside. A pocket of air develops, causing the egg to float.
Along with air finding its way through the shell, the level of bacteria also grows. If an egg floats and you eat it, you risk giving yourself food poisoning!
How Long Does a Chicken Egg Take to Hatch?
I know what it’s like waiting for chicks to hatch – it’s a nerve-racking experience.
There isn’t a definitive answer to how long it takes for a chick to hatch as it depends on the breed of chicken, the incubation temperature, and other factors.
That said, generally speaking, most eggs will hatch within 21 days. However, some may take up to 28 days on the extreme end of the timescale.
So if you’re using an incubator and your eggs haven’t hatched after 21 days, don’t panic.
Inspect any eggs very carefully for a sign that a chick is starting to ‘pip’ the shell, which means they are pecking at it to break out.
By day 22, if there is no sign at all that a chick is trying to hatch, you could try the warm water trick!
Due to the sensitivity of the situation, if you’re still unsure what to do or are having trouble hatching eggs, the best advice is to reach out to a local poultry expert for assistance.
If you don’t have an avian vet nearby or can’t reach out to one for any reason, you could always call a local farm, pet store, or any establishment that may have experience hatching chicks.
I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to help!
Hatching eggs is both a nerve-racking and exhilarating experience – if you’re waiting on overdue chicks, I know how anxious you’re feeling.
Candling eggs and using the warm water test in conjunction with one another is a foolproof way of increasing your chances of hatching chicks.
The warm water test can be used to determine if an egg is infertile or has a live chick inside, while candling will let you know how developed the embryo is.
Image credits – Photo by montatip lilitsanong on Unsplash