Hot composting is where you manage the contents of the compost to optimise the natural composting process, which raises the heat of the contents to an optimum temperature.
Hot composting operates at a temperature between 40-60°c in comparison to less than 20°c for cold composting.
The result is an odour and pest-free contents that become compost much faster than normal ‘cold’ composting.
You can get compost in 30 - 90 days.
When doing hot composting at home, you will need to purchase a hot composter which we have listed the available options in the UK. They all have good insulation and various ‘tricks’ for helping the hot composting process. The key to hot composting is regularly feeding your bin with food waste, mixed with a balancing amount of slightly bulky brown waste, with plenty of aeration.
How it works
For hot composting, you need to keep oxygen present in the compost bin. We call this ‘aerobic composting’. This promotes good activity by the bacteria that break down the waste into compost.
Green and brown waste
I have a helpful blog post about green vs. brown waste. Here is a summary…
Green waste adds Nitrogen to your compost bin and comes from fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, flowers, coffee grounds, tea leaves, fresh leaves and manure. Brown waste adds Carbon to your compost bin and comes from adding cardboard, shredded paper, dead leaves, chopped twigs, straw/hay, wood ash and eggshells. For hot composting, you need to keep oxygen present in the compost bin. We call this ‘aerobic composting’. This promotes good activity by the bacteria that break down the waste into compost. It’s the bulky brown waste that allows gaps in the compost bin where oxygen is present.
It’s the bulky brown waste that allows gaps in the compost bin where oxygen is present.
Decomposition happens on the surface of the organic materials. The more you can chop things up, the more surface you have for decomposition, and the process is faster.
One important thing to consider when hot composting is manually helping air get into the compost bin. You can do this by turning (mixing up!) the contents of the bin weekly or if the contents dip below 40 degrees. You often see a spike in the temperature 1 or two days after this is done.
If you add a lot of food waste, it can let out lots of moisture, so you may not have to add water to the bin manually. If the contents get too wet, air pockets will close, and you risk the contents going anaerobic, so no oxygen is present.
Overall, hot composting is a rewarding hobby that helps you reduce more waste, and generate nutrient-rich compost for you to use.
Hot composting gives you nutrient-rich compost, fast and enables you to recycle almost all your food waste. It requires ongoing maintenance to work well. If you can commit to that, this is fantastic. You will reap the rewards of your time and effort.
What are the benefits of composting?
There are many benefits to composting. Let’s look at some below.
Reduce your waste
With hot composting, you can compost almost all food waste excluding large bones and oyster shells, so it’s a very helpful way to reduce your waste and carbon footprint. You can also add paper and cardboard, which removes more waste going to landfill or the recycling centre.
Hot composting is fast. You can get ready to use compost in 30-90 days.
Removes the bad
Because of the heat generated, the process will kill seeds, perennial weeds and pathogens. If the temperature gets hot, it also will be pest-free.
On-Site Waste Management
You can further help the environment by managing your waste at home (on-site) rather than having a large truck come to your home, take it away, and most likely, run it through machinery to break down.
It’s a rewarding hobby that helps you learn more about composting and how composting works. My wife loves hearing me talk about composting ;)
What are the downsides to hot composting?
Are these downsides or opportunities for more composting activity? That’s a personal question based on your preference and circumstances…
Yes, hot composting takes more effort. You need to monitor the temperature and aerate often. Regularly feed the composter and ensure a good balance of green and brown material.
Hot composters are more expensive than standard cold compost bins. That’s because they have features that help and are made of better materials.