Compost heat

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: Compost heat
Author: TCLynx (Tclynx)
Saturday, June 09, 2007 - 10:24 am
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Heather,
The great plunge when you add new materials is probably mostly because the tempeture of the stuff you are adding. It will take more than an instant to bring the contents of the fresh buckets up from air temperature to composting temperatures. Generally when you stick the thermomiter back it you are probably putting it where you just added the buckets. It is kinda like when you add food into the preheated oven, it takes time for the oven to regain it's lost heat from the door opening and then more time to cook the food.

Our pile hangs out around 140F in the hot sections. It will spike a bit a day or two after adding to it and of course it will drop imediately after adding since the contents of the buckets are usually only around air temp when they are added and of course digging a big hole in the middile of the pile will disturb and cool things down temporarily.

Our pile was started in Feb (in central FL) Our primary cover in the pile are the small oak leaves common in the south. They take a long time to break down. We are using (non kiln dried) sawdust (mostly from pine trees) in the buckets to cover smelly deposits and shredded paper. When available we also use coffee grounds in the buckets.

The pile built up to a certain size quickly but then shrinks so that I will probably stay 1/2 full for most of the year we fill it.

Author: Jamie Henrichsen (Theolddog)
Friday, June 08, 2007 - 10:06 pm
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I have been monitoring my pile temperature daily for some time now and have been in excess of 140 F fo a month now. A huge spike came on when large amounts of lush green weeds came availabe and each deposit was spead evenly over a flat pile the covered generously with horse manure and fresh green weeds. The spike was for several days at 154 F. I was estatic! Lower levels of the pile that did not recieve the same treatment were slower to heat but all have been above 130 F for a month as well. Some temperature drops were noted with rainfall and water from the hose but were followed by a spike back up above the point it dropped from. Happy composting!

Author: Anonymous
Tuesday, November 27, 2001 - 8:03 pm
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Does the compost smell when it's heating if it's well covered?

Author: Stephen
Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - 12:34 am
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If its well covered, no.

Author: joe
Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - 12:39 pm
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Although I always say that our toilet and compost pile produce no objectionable odor, it is imperative that the proper cover materials are used in the toilet in adequate quantities. We use rotting raw sawdust which works beautifully. Other materials also work well (leaf mould for example). Drier cover materials such as kiln dried wood shavings or kiln dried sawdust do not work as well for odor prevention.

There can be an odor, however faint, emanating from the compost pile, especially after a fresh batch of material has been added, and especially on a hot summer day. This requires a greater amount of cover material than usual, but the extra cover will stop the odor. The odor will be caused by any smelly organic material, including humanure, chicken manure, etc. It's important for someone to responsibly manage the compost to eliminate odor.

Author: Mary Metcalf
Thursday, September 08, 2005 - 2:26 pm
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I'm looking for some clarification/feedback re:compost temps...I've been composting my humanure since November 2004, when I also purchased Reotemp's backyard thermometer. Up until this summer I was only reading/recording temperatures each time I added to my outdoor compost pile (two-3 gal. buckets humanure and one-3 gal. bucket kitchen scraps about every 10 days unless I'm away then it's longer), and have been puzzled by seemingly low temps: June 10=85F, June 21=80F, July 1=94F, July 11=98F, July 28=88F, Aug 20=88F, Aug 29=94F, Sept 8=82F.

When I'd think to check it, I noticed some real heat at the pile a day or so after the additions so finally took the time to fetch the thermometer up at the house, and got readings of 102F June 23, 120F on Aug 21, 100F on Aug25, 112F on Aug 31...so the pattern seems to be a spike in temperature a day or so after adding the humanure/kitchen scraps then a gradual decline in temps until the next addition...What do you make of this? I'm a little concerned that my temps aren't higher, or at least, remaining at lower temperatures for longer periods, i.e., "122F for 24 hours, 115F for one week, or 109.4F for one month" (pgs. 167, 173 in the Humanure Handbook, 2nd Edition), for, as Joe states (p.199)"It is imperative that humanure compost rise above the temperature of the human body for an extended period of time." I do tend to skimp on cover material (sawmill sawdust) so the buckets won't fill up as fast-could my lower temps be attributed to this and/or to not enough moisture (water) in pile...? I welcome any suggestions, feedback. Thanks much!

Author: Stephen
Friday, September 09, 2005 - 12:14 am
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Gut feeling is not enough moisture. Your added moist material boosts the temp but sounds likeyour pile drys out and slows down.

Author: admin
Friday, September 09, 2005 - 6:12 pm
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Keep your thermometer in the pile all the time. Only remove it to add material. I assume it's a 20" thermometer. Place it in the top center of the pile and leave it there, buried to full depth (thermometer face sticking out only). Take your readings from that thermometer. If you move the thermometer around or take it in or out, it's hard to get a good indication of what the pile is doing. You have to leave it in one place in the most active area of the pile.

Joe Jenkins

Author: Mary M
Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 11:34 am
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Thank you! I appreciate your feedback/suggestions and am considering/trying them all. The last few weeks I've actually been leaving the thermometer in the pile all the time so I'd be more likely to take temp. readings regularly-I'd been taking readings at the top center of the pile only-and was concerned that the elements might damage it by doing this, so found your comments helpful.
A few other questions come to mind: Given this info, how would you use the finished product? Would you still use it on your vegetable gardens? What a bummer to take all this care and time and not be able to use it!
Also, my pile does slightly resemble the Matterhorn, i.e., I have pallet bins and there's air/space in all the corners almost down to ground level and some on the sides--it's not filled in with humanure/sawdust mix/kitchen scraps all the way to the boards...next time I add would you suggest I level it completely to fill in the corners and edges? I'm a little confused because then some of (the freshest) humanure, etc., will definitely be at the edges and not in the center of the pile...And if I were to do this the bin would be about 1/2 full, which raises my next question...
It will be a year in November that I've been adding to this pile, so if the bin's not full, do I keep adding to it 'til it is or just start to let it age as planned?

Also, if there's a lack of moisture do you suggest dumping a gallon or two of water on it every few days? It's uncovered so it does get rainwater.

Checked temps this AM and found: 102F at top center, 80F when the 20" thermometer is buried to full depth...

Thanks again.

Humanurely, Trying in Vermont

Author: TCLynx
Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - 1:30 pm
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Options listed in the book include letting it age an extra year or using it on non food crops if you are worried that it might not have cooked well enough.
As for wheather to put this one to bed or keep adding? That is really up to you. If it is only half full you could probably use it another year or maybe use it till spring before putting it to rest and starting on the new one. It all depends on what time of year you would want to get at the compost after the aging period.

If the compost is still not heating up or staying hot well you might adjust your mix of cover material and moisture. I've heard of used cooking oil also helping the heat up.

Author: Art Krenzel
Monday, April 03, 2006 - 7:57 pm
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Joe,

Have you considered producing biogas with the humanure first and then
composting it.

The weather sounds like a challenge for either process to achieve very low
pathogen levels.

Interesting project - it sure is at the end of the supply line.

Art Krenzel, P.E.
PHOENIX TECHNOLOGIES
10505 NE 285th Street
Battle Ground, WA 98604
360-666-1883 phone
phoenix98604@msn.com

Author: heather
Thursday, May 25, 2006 - 2:00 pm
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I will add my own (borderline) obsessive observations of my pile temps. The pile has spiked to 120 after the addition of fresh humanure, usually holding 120F for 4-5 days (not the week specified in the Handbook). recwently after the pile happily chugging along at 110F for 7 days, i added fresh buckets, and the temp in the pile DROPPED precipitously! to 90F. I am sure it will spike again, but why the great plunge?

I have also noticed that the pile gets noticlbly higher spikes when I use fresh green cover material (grass clippings or weeds from the garden) since they are already hot perhaps?

I obsess over the temps because I chart them and at some point hope to challenge my county health dept to accept the system (right now I'm just flying under radar)
Happy humanureing!
-Heather

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