Adding Hair To Compost: Types Of Hair For Composting
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By: Anne Baley
As many good gardeners know, composting is a free way to turn garbage and garden waste into a substance that feeds plants while it conditions the soil. There are a number of ingredients that can go into compost, but many people ask the question “Can you compost hair?” Keep reading for information on composting hair for the garden.
Can You Compost Hair?
At its heart, compost is nothing more than organic materials that have broken down into their most basic components. When mixed into garden soil, compost adds needed nutrients to the soil. It will help retain water in sandy soil while adding drainage to dense clay soil.
The basic formula for creating compost is to layer green or moist ingredients with brown or dry ingredients, then bury them in soil and add water. The chemicals in each type of material join together to break down everything into one brown mass filled with nutrients. Having the right proportions of greens and browns is important.
So can you compost hair? Green components include kitchen waste, freshly cut grass, pulled weeds and, yes, even hair. In fact, nearly any organic material that hasn’t dried out and is not from the inside of an animal, is fair game for the green components. These add nitrogen to the compost and ultimately into the soil.
Brown compost ingredients include dried leaves, twigs, and shredded newspaper. When they break down, brown ingredients add carbon to the mix.
Types of Hair for Composting
Don’t just use the hair from your family hairbrushes for the compost heap. Check with any local hairdressers in the area. Many of them are used to handing out bags of hair to gardeners for animal repellent, as well as composting materials.
All hair works the same way, so if you have a dog groomer in the neighborhood, offer to take the dog clippings off her hands for some extra added nitrogen in your compost heap. Cat hair can be used as well.
How to Compost Hair
Adding hair to compost is as simple as sprinkling it in among the other green ingredients when you add that layer. The hair will break down easier if you spread it out instead of dropping it in large clumps.
In order to speed up the decomposition process, it may help to place a tarp over top of the compost pile. This will help retain both heat and moisture necessary for these materials to break down. Be sure to turn the compost a few times a week to mix everything together and keep it aerated.
It normally takes about a month for composting hair to break down enough before adding it to your garden soil.
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Read more about Compost Ingredients
What can go in compost bin? Some tips to help your garden and keep away pests
Pretty soon, many more Australians are going to be composting their food waste. The Victorian government kicks off its four-bin system from this year, and the federal government is considering a plan to turn kitchen scraps into fertiliser for farmers.
Associate Professor, School of Engineering and Built Environment, and Director, Engagement (Industry), Griffith University
Lecturer, School of Engineering and Built Environment, Griffith University, Griffith University
Research Fellow, Cities Research Institute, Griffith University
But knowing exactly what to put in your compost bin can be tricky – and views differ on whether you should add items such as meat and citrus.
Composting is fairly simple, but it’s important to get it right. Otherwise, your compost mix may be too slimy or smelly, or attract vermin.
We are experts in food resilience and sustainability, and have prepared this “dos and don’ts” guide to get you on your way.
Human hair, dog hair, in the worm bin?
Worms amongst some dog hair from a worm farm
Just heard that human hair is a good additive for a worm farm. How about dog hair?
you are quite right human hair is an excellent worm food and get recycled in worm farms and worm bins.
The same can be said about Dog hair and cat hair. Even if it takes quite a while for the hair to start to decompose at which state it turns into a suitable worm food.
But in the meantime the hairballs form soft and fluffy areas inside the worm farm which can hold lots of oxygen.
I found very often not only mature worms but especially tiny baby worms inside piles of human-, cat- and dog hair that we had dumped into our worm farms.
So by all means add hair to the food waste and garden waste in your worm farm and let the worms recycle it.
Kind regards and happy worming
Comments for Human hair, dog hair, in the worm bin?
thank you for your message. I think it might be a good idea to either ask your vet about the possible dangers of the anti-flea medication for your worms or alternatively make a small test with some of the hair in a tiny container. Add a few worms a little bedding and some of the hair as food and see if those worms will still be alive after a few weeks once they have fed on the hair. If the worms are doing fine the dog hair should be good to feed to your worms as long as it is fed in moderation.
Author of "How to start a profitable worm business on a shoestring budget"
It depends what kind of chemicals the hair dye consists of I would say!
If there are no harmful chemicals in it than the hair that has been treated with it should be just fine and could be used as worm food.
If in doubt it is always a good idea to use just a few worms and expose them to the dyed hair or other potential worm food in question. if the worms are still fine a few weeks later the dyed hair should be fine to be used as worm food.
Please let me know what you find out about the subject.
- Is it safe to put dyed hair in a bin? It would seem that if hair dye is safe enough to go on a human head every 3-4 weeks, then it's safe enough for the worm bin?
Council compost collection
Local councils are increasingly offering food waste collection programs, sometimes along with garden green waste. In such cases, these materials are processed at large scale composting sites
In Victoria, a four-bin waste and recycling system will be rolled out in partnership with councils. Most households will be using this system by 2030.
Gold Coast City Council City recently diverted 553 tonnes of food waste from landfill during a one-year trial. The program helps address home composting space challenges for the region’s many apartment and high-rise dwellers.
If your council offers food waste collection, make sure you follow their particular “dos and don’ts” advice. Depending where you live, it may differ slightly to ours.
Indoor Compost Bins
If you are going to set up a compost station indoors, it is highly likely that space is at a premium. With that in mind, there are a few containers that make good options for indoor compost bins.
- Plastic storage bins: These are a good choice because these bins are fairly inexpensive and easy to obtain. You can get them in a variety of sizes depending on how much space you have and how much composting you expect to do. Ten gallons can be a good size, but 18 gallons (which is a pretty standard size) would be even better. You can also stack these bins to save space. Simply drill a few aeration holes in the lid, add your contents, and start composting.
- Five-gallon buckets: These buckets are inexpensive and stackable. You can get them with matching lids at just about any home center. You will want to drill aeration holes near the top of the bucket.
- Old wooden dresser drawers, wine crates, or other boxes: If you are able to trash-pick an old dresser or wine crate, you can turn it into an indoor composter. Simply cover the top with either a hinged piece of wood cut to size or a piece of heavy fabric such as painters' canvas.
After weeding around your footpaths and veggie gardens, you can just throw the weeds into your compost bin that’s if you haven’t decided to make a weed tea instead!
More businesses are using compostable packaging than ever before in an effort to become more sustainable. Compostable packaging is made from a number of plant-based materials including corn starch, wood pulp and palm leaf. While there is still an ongoing debate about just how ‘green’ compostable packaging is, the consensus is that in the right compost environment it should break down.
Composting: What You Need To Know About It
Why You Need to be Composting
Anyone who has crappy soil knows that nothing flourishes in it. The soil needs help to become healthy and fertile. That’s where composting comes in. Here in central Florida, we have sand. Unless cactus gardening is your forte, the ground is pretty much useless.
Compost provides organisms for the soil . It gives nutrients, balances the pH, kills pollutants, and allows the soil to hold water. It is like fertilizer for the soil. Adding compost to the sandy soil allows me to have abundant gardens throughout the year.
It also reduces waste. There are many materials that we throw away or discard that can go into the compost pile, therefore reducing the landfills that much more. Examples include food waste like fruit and vegetable peels. Paper and cardboard can be shredded and added to the compost pile, as well as yard waste like grass clippings and leaves.
So now you know why you need to be composting. Now we can discuss how.
Ways to Compost
Composting can be done in many ways. Which type you choose will depend on how much space you have and how much you plan on using in your gardens. You can use a compost bin . Bins come in many shapes and sizes. You can purchase them or you can make them yourself.
Purchased composters are usually a round container with holes drilled throughout, placed on a stand so it can be turned, and are usually smaller in size. They can also be standing stall type units that sit on the ground. With these units, you put them where you want them. Then you just stir and add water and material every once in a while. These hold limited amounts of compost and are good for a smaller yard.
DIY bins are easy to build. Some people use pallets to make “bins” and rotate their materials through each bin. I’ve seen it done in concrete block squares that are stacked on 3 sides with fencing in the front. You can search Youtube for DIY Compost Bins and find many great ideas.
Hot or Cool Composting
There are 2 types of composting, hot and cool.
The pallet bins and containers I mentioned above use the hot method. In this method, water is added to the pile after all the organic material is added. It is mixed with a pitchfork or turned more frequently. A tarp or cover is placed over the pile. This allows the heat to build up in the center which “cooks” the pile. Thus, it is called the hot method. This method usually, if done right, produces much quicker than the cool method. This method requires a lot of sun and access to water regularly.
The cool method is usually used when the compost is started on the ground in a pile. It is turned a few times over the year. This method, however, can take a year or even two because it does not heat up as the hot method pile does. Basically, it breaks down naturally. Keep this in mind if you will need it sooner than later.
I have some cool piles in the woods beside my house. I simply drive some stakes in the ground, wrap some poultry netting around it and fill it with leaves and grass. It gets turned when I remember, but for the most part, I let nature do it for me. It takes a long time but I receive great compost every year and a half from these piles.
What Goes in the Compost Pile
Compost piles need the right mix of greens and browns. Greens provide the nitrogen that plants need and browns provide carbon. Greens are wet whereas browns are dry.
- moldy food
- chicken, goat and rabbit manure
- coffee grounds
- tea leaves
- green leaves, grass clippings
- aquarium water
- dried leaves and grass
- straw/wood chips
- shredded paper/cardboard
- coffee filters and tea bags
- cotton fabric
- corn cobs
These lists are just a small sample of what can be composted. See What You Can Add To The Compost Pile for more specific information.
How to Find the Perfect Balance While Composting
Composting is not a 50/50 split as one may think. An easy formula to follow when starting out is the 6 to 2 method of layering. In this method, you place 6 inches of brown material, then 2 inches of green material on top. This gets watered until the pile feels moist. The moisture level is similar to chocolate cake. Mix the pile with a pitchfork. Repeat this process each time you want to add to your pile.
Your pile should have no foul smell to it. If it does it is probably too wet. The solution is simple. Add more brown material to absorb the dampness and mix the pile again. Eventually, the brown material will absorb enough moisture that the pile will no longer smell.
If the pile is too dry, you can add more green material, or water the pile a little heavier. As long as you have the right balance of brown and green materials, water should be the solution to a dry pile.
Remember, a compost pile using the hot method should be turned once a week in the warmer weather. Turning often ensures even composting is taking place throughout the entire pile. Also, keep the moisture levels correct. Composting happens above 40° regardless, but the higher the heat and the better the moisture, the better and faster it will be ready. Covering with a tarp or black plastic can help the pile to retain the heat.
There are only two differences between hot and cool piles. First of all, the hot pile is ready quicker. Second, the heat of a hot pile kills seeds and pathogens that will still be there in a cool pile. Outside of these two differences, the two are generally the same.
Don’t be intimidated by making your first pile. It’s not rocket science. Just do it. Your garden will reward you for all your efforts.
This post has been shared at Simple Homestead Blog Hop and on The Homestead Blogging Network.
To read about other beneficial skills to learn about gardening and homesteading see 5 Skills Homesteaders Should Learn.