Your compost pile should emanate a rich, earthy scent. If you perceive any other smells from your pile, you are doing something wrong, and you’ll need to act fast.
You can learn how to stop compost from smelling but if you do not understand why your pile smells in the first place, you will definitely be coming back here after it occurs again. The primary reason why your compost smells is that it has gone anaerobic. This means that your heap lacks oxygen to support aerobic microbes. Anaerobic microbes produce hydrogen sulfide and this is responsible for rotten-like odors emanating from your compost pile.
Another probable reason is the material you are wrongly adding to your heap. You can’t just toss anything into your pile and expect it to smell earthy. Most times, success is achieved by tossing in ingredients in the right proportion. Too many greens will give you a wet and soggy compost heap. On the other hand, too many browns will produce a very dry heap. Hence, balance is key.
So, how do you fix this problem? What steps can you take to stop your compost from smelling? Well, it’s simple. Ensure your pile has a balance of green and brown materials. Next, make sure nonplant materials are not added to the pile. If you’ve already added them, make sure they are buried within the pile. Finally, check moisture levels to know if your compost is too wet. If it is soggy, add brown materials into it and cover with a tarp until some of the moisture dries out.
There are several other probable reasons why your compost smells like filth. In this post, you will learn what these reasons are. You will also know how to stop your compost from smelling and how to prevent a recurrence.
Should my compost bin smell bad?
No, your compost bin should not smell bad. A properly balanced compost is supposed to smell like dirt, and if it doesn’t, something is definitely wrong. The only exception to the rule is when manure is being composted in your pile. This will definitely smell until the manure is broken down. To suppress the smell of manure, cover the pile with 6-10 inches of leaves, newspaper, or straw.
How to prevent compost bin from smelling
Your compost doesn’t need to smell foul. Why wait for it to start smelling when it is preventable? They are ways to prevent it from having any putrid smell. One way is by sprinkling your compost heap with lime. In addition, try not to add kitchen waste but if you really have to do that, be sure to add some dry materials as well.
Also, stir your pile at least once a week to get plenty of air into it. You do not have to wait for it to start smelling before taking proactive measures. If your heap is dry, sprinkle water in it.
Why does my compost pile smell like poop?
A thriving compost pile is going to decompose properly with vulnerability to elements such as wind, rain, and sun. If any of the components of the element are off-balance or totally missing, the composting process will be halted.
If the compost, for instance, is placed in a location where it doesn’t get enough heat, it will become damp and clammy and rather than decompose and break down completely, it becomes dormant and odoriferous, in other words will stink like poop!
Lack of aeration:
Compost piles are supposed to be properly aerated or else, they’ll become compacted and start to smell. Without oxygen, organic matter will not break down properly, thereby bringing up a putrid odor that smells like rotting eggs. To get air into the pile and allow air to drain the excess moisture, break off the soil with a pitchfork or garden fork.
When composting at home, there are some materials that should not be added to your compost bin. They include fish and meat scraps, vegetable oil, dairy products, fats, leftover processed foods, eggs, etc. These ingredients, if added, will create foul smells and attract all sorts of scavengers to your pile.
While this is highly unlikely, it cannot be ruled out completely. When your pile overheats, beneficial microorganisms that are essential to the process may die. If the temperature in your pile is above 160°F (71°C), the beneficial microbes will die off and this will kill any chance for antibiotic action.
Lack of microorganisms
On some occasions, albeit rarely, a lack of microorganisms may be responsible for that foul smell emanating from your pile. When your pile is placed on a tarp or sealed in a plastic tub that doesn’t touch the earth, microorganisms may be unable to get in. A heap lacking microorganisms won’t break down and would cause your pile to smell. If you have added green and brown materials adequately and corrected every other problem, then this is the last possibility. You should consider boosting the population of microorganisms in your pile with fresh compost or soil.
9 tips to stop compost from smelling
If your pile already smells bad, then you will need to do more than the tips above to get rid of the odor. Here are eight tips that will leave your compost smelling rich earthy
1. Add brown waste to your compost pile
Sometimes, a shortage of brown materials may be the cause of that foul smell emanating from your compost heap. When green waste is being broken down, it gives a foul odor of ammonia, and that’s why browns such as leaves, paper bags, newspapers, corn cobs, dry twigs, etc. are required to balance it. To compost correctly, add brown waste material thrice the size of your compost green material.
2. Turn pile regularly
Turning your compost pile regularly will keep your browns and greens in balance. It will also help in aerating it, thereby keeping your pile from smelling bad.
4. Do not add fats or animal-based products to your heap
To keep your compost from smelling, desist from adding food scraps, vegetable oils, meat, fish, milk, leftover processed food and fats. These foods create unpleasant smells and attract scavengers and other pests to your bin.
5. Bury kitchen scraps
If you insist on adding food waste to your pile, you need to ensure they are buried completely so it would get enough heat to speed up its decomposition process. It will also mitigate the stench. As you add kitchen waste to your heap, be sure to mix it up and bury it.
6. Shred or chop things into smaller pieces
To reduce the chances of having a moist, matted mess, always shred or chop things into smaller pieces before dumping it in your pile. Wood, for example, should be chopped into smaller pieces.
7. Make sure your compost pile get enough sun
If your bin doesn’t get enough sun, it will definitely smell. Your pile has to receive at least 6 hours of sun daily. If the present location of your compost pile doesn’t allow for enough sun, consider changing it.
8. Do not isolate your pile
A lack of microorganisms will ensure the pile does not heat up or break down. What’s worse? The pile will also smell. If your compost heap is isolated from natural sources of microbes, that is, the earth, it’s time to place it on solid ground. This will get bugs into the pile.
Alternatively, you can introduce microorganisms into your pile by adding organic soil or fresh compost into it. This will naturally take care of the problem.
9. Cover your pile.
To prevent your pile from becoming soggier, cover it with a tarp while raining. The pile can be left covered for a while until it dries up some. If you used a closed bin, you have nothing to worry about.
How long does it take for mulch to smell?
When mulch smells, it is likely a result of a lack of aeration. When there is no airflow, anaerobic bacteria may take over the composting processing, creating hydrogen sulfide gas and methane.
Typically, the smell of mulch may take 4-5 days to dissipate. However, some may last for up to a week or weeks.
How do I stop mulch from smelling?
Since the problem is caused by a lack of oxygen, the most efficient way to stop mulch from smelling is by aeration. Spread it out on a tarp and ensure there is enough airflow. Keep stirring to make sure no batch is left out. Let it sit for a couple of days and the odor will dissipate.
With just a little effort, you can get rid of those putrid odors. You don’t need to spend a fortune on this. Just follow the steps above and your compost will be fine in a short time.