does a compost bin smell

Does Your Compost Bin Smell Bad? Here’s What To Do About It

Does a compost bin smell bad? A common myth about compost bins is that they’re are unsightly and don’t smell very good. Many people avoid composting for this reason. No one wants to be the smelly neighbor!

While you should never expect your compost pile to smell like roses, excessively foul odor shouldn’t be an issue when composting properly

With a few simple tips, you can keep your compost bin smelling fresh and looking great. You can be a good neighbor AND compost your waste too!

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does a compost bin smell

DOES YOUR COMPOST BIN SMELL BAD?

TRY TURNING THE PILE

The first step is to make sure that your compost bin has enough air flow. If it doesn’t, the bin will start to smell bad. If your compost bin smells bad, the first thing you should do is turn the pile. This will help to get oxygen flowing through the compost and speed up the decomposition process. The aerobic bacteria that do the work of turning your waste into compost need lots of air!

You can use a shovel or pitchfork to turn the pile, or if you have a composter with a turning mechanism, be sure to use it regularly.

USE A CLOSED BIN TO REDUCE SMELL

While a properly cared for compost pile shouldn’t be very smelly, you can provide an extra layer of protection by using a closed bin instead of an open pile. A closed bin will keep the air inside and prevent bad smells from escaping.

Closed bins also keep any unsightly compost hidden away out of view, which your neighbors may appreciate!

ADD CARBONS, NOT JUST KITCHEN WASTE

A common mistake that many people make when they set out to compost is adding only kitchen scraps and then expecting good results. A healthy compost pile is made up of materials that are high in nitrogen (which is what those food scraps are largely composed of!) and also materials that are high in carbon (things like leaves, straw or cardboard).

Make a habit of adding a layer of carbons each time you throw new food scraps to your pile, and your compost will be much less likely to smell.

BURY FOOD SCRAPS

If you notice your compost pile starting to get smelly, you may want to make sure that you’re burying all new food scrap additions (nitrogens) underneath a layer of leaves or hay (carbons). This will help to mask any odor and create a more balanced compost pile.

USE BOKASHI BIN

If you want a nearly fool-proof method to keep your compost from smelling bad, trying using a Bokashi bucket! With this method, you add a special bran mix to your compost and it helps to break down the material without producing any bad smells. Contrary to traditional composting, this method does not require air flow. In fact, you’ll need to keep your Bokashi bucket as air-tight as possible!

As a bonus, you can easily do this type of composting indoors, save yourself loads of late-night trips out to the compost pile in your yard. Many people who live in apartments use this method of composting!

TOO MUCH MOISTURE

An over-abundance of moisture can also be the culprit for foul-smelling compost. While some moisture is necessary to keep the micro-organisms happy and healthy, avoid watering your compost pile too often. If you’re expecting a lot of rain, consider covering your pile with a tarp or some other type of covering.

A closed compost bin can be useful in this situation as well, since the lid naturally keeps rainwater from collecting inside.

ENSURE PROPER DRAINAGE

If a too-wet compost pile continues to be an issue and creating smelly compost, make sure that your bin is able to drain properly. If using an old barrel to contain your waste, you’ll want to drill some holes in the bottom so that any excess liquid can drain away.

Store-bought compost bins should already have appropriate drainage, but make sure the holes aren’t blocked in any way!

If your compost bin is in an area that tends to be wet, you might also want to consider raising the bin off of the ground for good drainage and proper air flow.

STOP FEEDING YOUR WORMS

If you’re using the vermicompost method and find that it’s starting to smell bad, one possible solution is to stop feeding your worms! When there’s more material in the bin that the worms can consume, the scraps will start to rot instead of being eaten by the worms. Naturally, that can produce a bad smell!

If this happens, stop adding new kitchen waste to your worm bin, and cover it with a layer of cardboard to keep any odor from escaping. In a week or two, your worms should be caught up and you’ll be able to start adding new compost material.

GET A LARGER VERMICOMPOST BIN

If you’re producing more kitchen waste than your worm friends can handle, consider adding more worms! A higher number of worms can handle more food waste and help to keep things smelling nice.

YOU CAN COMPOST WITHOUT FEAR OF SMELLS!

So does a compost bin smell bad? The answer is usually a resounding, “no!” On the off chance that your bin does start to smell, now you have some helpful tips to fight back and keep the odor at bay. Don’t let a fear of smelling bad keep you from composting!

What are some ways you’ve found to get rid of a compost smell? Let us know in the comments below!

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