Welcome to the The Incredible Edible Egg™ Eggcyclopedia, where you can access the latest egg information from A-Z. The Eggcyclopedia was developed by the American Egg Board (AEB) on behalf of America's egg farmers who are committed to caring for their hens and producing high-quality eggs for you and your families.

Just click on any letter below to bring up a list of egg terms and their related definitions.


The egg’s outer covering, accounting for about 9 to 12% of its total weight, depending on the egg size. The shell is the egg’s first line of defense against bacterial contamination. The shell is largely composed of calcium carbonate (about 94%) with small amounts of magnesium carbonate, calcium phosphate and other organic matter, including protein. Shell strength is greatly influenced by the minerals and vitamins in the hen’s diet, particularly calcium, phosphorus, manganese and vitamin D. If the diet is deficient in calcium, for instance, the hen will produce a thin or soft-shelled egg or possibly an egg with no shell. Occasionally an egg may be prematurely expelled from the uterus due to injury or excitement. In this case, the shell has not had time to be completely formed. Shell thickness is also related to egg size which, in turn, is related to the hen’s age. As the hen ages, egg size increases. The same amount of shell material which covers a smaller egg must be stretched to cover a larger one, hence the shell is thinner. Seven to 17 thousand tiny pores are distributed over the shell surface, a greater number at the large end. As the egg ages, these tiny holes permit moisture and carbon dioxide to move out and air to move in to form the air cell. The shell is covered with a protective coating called the cuticle or bloom. By blocking the pores, the cuticle helps to preserve freshness and prevent microbial contamination of the contents. Eggshells uses vary from the thrifty, such as compost, to the creative, as in decorated eggs. – See Air Cell; Bloom; Color, Shell; Composition; Decorating Eggs;Formation; Oiling