Perlite Vs. Pumice

Last Updated on October 30, 2022 by Cinthia

Let’s talk about perlite vs. pumice. Both perlite and pumice are great soil amendments, especially for succulents and cacti. However, the question on most gardeners’ minds even the experienced ones is which better?

There are some factors to consider that will help determine if perlite is better than pumice and vice versa. So, read on to find out about perlite vs. pumice.

Perlite & Pumice
Perlite Vs. Pumice
Perlite Vs. Pumice

Perlite and pumice are both used to enhance soil aeration that will reduce waterlogging. They don’t retain water, thereby making them an excellent draining soil material. Potted plants such as succulents and cacti cannot do well with just soil. Their soil needs to be amended with coarse pebbles materials to suit their requirements. Thus, soil amendments like perlite and pumice are used.

First things first, let’s take a look at the characteristics features of both so we can determine which is better. It’s good you understand what they are made of and where they came from so you can decide which is better.

Perlite & Pumice

Perlite Features & Uses

Perlite is derived from a mined silicon rock that has been crushed, heated, and expanded. They also contain other minerals like iron oxide, potassium oxide, and sodium oxide.

They are lighter in weight and color. Before the process of heating, perlite can be brown, red, gray, green, or blue. However, after the heating process, they become light gray or white.

Perlites are mostly used in ceiling tiles, roof insulation, and plaster. Nevertheless, they are mostly used in gardening and hydroponics. It is also a great choice for seed starters as well as root cuttings.

Pumice Features & Uses

Pumice is derived from volcanic eruptions or explosions and they mostly come from Oregon. The process for obtaining pumice is a lesser and quite environmentally friendly technique than perlite.

Pumice is quite soft but not as lightweight as perlite. They are usually known as solidified rock foam. They are capable of floating in the water and they contain some air that allows them light enough to float on water.

Pumice is mostly used for construction and horticulture. Unlike the regular concrete blocks, the concrete block that has pumice has lesser weight and enhanced insulating features. They are used in the garden as soil amendments and they can also be used as a growing medium in hydroponic gardening.

Pumice is especially great for plants that are heavy and predisposed to turning over as it will keep your plant rooted in one place.

Perlite Vs. Pumice

Let’s compare some features between perlite vs. pumice to know our best pick:

  • The pumice comes in various sizes to suit various requirements and they are lightweight but not as lightweight as perlite.
  • Pumice is capable of floating but they are still a little heavier than perlite so they can’t be blown away by wind or storm, unlike perlite.
  • Heavy potted plants that are capable of tripping over are better off used by pumice rather than perlite to keep them steady. Thus, your plants are safe from wind, heavy rain, as well as routine watering.
  • Unlike perlite, pumice does not decompose easily. This implies it can last you for a long time without the need for replacement thus, reducing cost.
  • Perlite is not as pricey as pumice. It’s easier to purchase them at your local garden center or nursery.
  • Perlite is also easy to access, however, pumice might be expensive in your zone and it might be difficult to get the appropriate sizes of pumice you need. Mostly, bigger sizes of pumice are common. However, smaller sizes may not be always available. The good news is that there are various retailers online where you can obtain the appropriate type of pumice you need. All you need to do is to pay a bit for the shipping fee and have your pumice delivered comfortably to your doorstep.

USA Pumice – 1.25 Dry Quarts

Perlite Vs. Pumice: The Option Chosen

Even though the two are great, we still have one clear winner. So, our pick is pumice! Pumice is an excellent option especially in enhancing the soil in your succulent.


What’s the difference between pumice stone and perlite?

Pumice is a volcanic rock that contains many small air pockets. It can be used as a light weight, inexpensive, effective insulation material. Perlite is a lightweight, expanded, non-combustible glassy volcanic rock with excellent insulating properties. Both are used for insulation in building construction. Pumice is often used as a form of insulation because it is soft and easy to work with.

The most common use of pumice is in the production of lightweight building materials. These include lightweight concrete blocks and panels. Pumice is also used as an aggregate in asphalt. It is also used for decorative purposes in garden and outdoor applications. When pumice is combined with water, it becomes a hydraulic cement.

Pumice is pretty good but if you get it from the hardware store it's often dusty and has grit in it. It's not as fine as perlite.The grit can be dangerous in certain applications so I'd avoid  using it unless you have to.

Perlite is much finer than pumice. It is also naturally non-toxic. You'll need to test it with a magnet and a metal detector. If you find any iron or other metals, then don't use it. It could give off harmful fumes when burned.

Can I use pumice instead of perlite?

Yes, it is possible. Pumice has a higher water content than perlite, so you may need to increase the amount of fertilizer you use. Pumice has a low level of nutrients, so you will need to fertilize your plants. It also doesn't contain any harmful chemicals. You can use pumice as a soil conditioner, too. Pumice is one of the best soils for growing plants.

Pumice is used to create a rich, fertile soil by adding it to topsoil. It is said to improve drainage and to prevent the collapse of the soil structure.

It is also used as a mulch for plants that prefer cooler temperatures, such as strawberries, tomatoes, and peppers.

Pumice is a great material for weed prevention. It keeps the soil loose and aerated, which helps to keep weeds from growing. If you are having problems with weed growth, try using pumice.

Is pumice better than perlite?

I have used both, and they work about the same. They both will absorb water, and they both are fine.

The only difference is that perlite absorbs water more quickly than pumice, so if you're starting a seedling from seed, use pumice instead of perlite. You can also buy hydroponic soil mix. It comes in a bag with nutrients already added. You'll probably want to add some fertilizer as well, but that's up to you.

Final Say

Both perlite and pumice are great for soil amendments in your garden. They will both enhance soil aeration and drainage for your succulents and cacti.

However, pumice is of greater option because it is long-lasting, doesn’t decompose easily, will hold your heavy plant steady, and so on.  The main downside to pumice is that it’s a bit pricey than perlite and it’s not as easily accessible as perlite.

All in all, you should go for the one that will suit you comfortably.