A healthy compost pile should have a neutral or slightly earthy smell. The odor of the pile should be similar to the smell of freshly turned soil. It should not be pungent or offensive.
As the organic matter in the pile breaks down, it will release various gases, such as carbon dioxide and water vapor, which will contribute to the overall smell of the pile. These gases are normal by-products of the composting process and do not indicate a problem.
A healthy compost pile should also be warm to the touch, this is due to the microorganisms breaking down the organic matter and generating heat as a byproduct. It is important to note that a bad smell in a compost pile can be an indication that something is wrong.
In summary, a healthy compost pile should have a neutral or slightly earthy smell, and should not be pungent or offensive. If there is any bad smell, it could be an indication that something is wrong and should be address as soon as possible to maintain the health of the compost pile.
Too many Greens
If there are too many greens in the compost pile, it can lead to a number of problems, one of which is bad odors. Greens, such as kitchen scraps and grass clippings, are high in nitrogen, and when they are in excess, they can make the pile too moist and anaerobic. Anaerobic conditions can cause the pile to produce unpleasant odors, such as ammonia or sulfur compounds.
Lesser Browns than required
If there is a lack of browns in a compost pile, it can also lead to a number of problems. Browns, such as dried leaves and twigs, are high in carbon. When there is a lack of browns in the pile, the pile can become too nitrogen-rich which can result in a number of issues that slow down the composting and produce bad smell.
Dairy Products in the compost
Adding dairy products to a compost pile can cause a number of problems. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, are high in fat and protein, which can attract pests, such as rodents and insects, to the pile. These pests can cause unpleasant odors and can also spread disease.
Meat products in the Compost
Adding meat to a compost pile can cause a number of problems. Meat, including fish and poultry, are high in protein and fat, which can attract pests, such as rodents, raccoons, and bears to the pile. These pests can cause unpleasant odors and can also spread disease. Additionally, meat can also create an imbalance in the ratio of “green” to “brown” materials in the pile. Meat is considered “green” materials, but they are high in fat and protein which can cause the pile to become too nitrogen-rich, leading to anaerobic conditions and the production of unpleasant odors, such as ammonia or sulfur compounds.
Too much moisture or wet compost
A wet compost pile can emit unpleasant odors for a variety of reasons. One common cause is the lack of oxygen in the pile. Composting is an aerobic process, meaning it requires oxygen to function. If the pile is too wet, it can become anaerobic, leading to the production of unpleasant odors such as ammonia or sulfur compounds. Another thing wet compost allows is growth of pathogens which also cause bad odor and are very bad for health too.
How to avoid bad odor from a compost
Now that we understand the causes of compost smells, let’s look at ways to avoid them.
- Properly balance the moisture levels in your compost pile. Compost should be moist, but not wet. To test the moisture level, squeeze a handful of compost. If water droplets come out, it’s too wet. If it’s dry and crumbly, it needs more moisture.
- Ensure proper aeration. The compost pile needs to be turned frequently to allow oxygen to circulate, which will promote the growth of aerobic bacteria.
- Add a “brown” layer to your compost pile. “Brown” materials, such as dry leaves, straw, or sawdust, are high in carbon and help absorb excess moisture, which can lead to bad smells.
- Avoid adding certain types of materials to your compost pile. Meat, dairy products, and oily foods can attract pests and create unpleasant smells.
- Keep a lid on it. A well-sealed compost bin will contain the smells and prevent pests from getting into the pile.
- Add a charcoal filter if you’re using any bin
- Regularly monitoring the temperature of the compost. The ideal temperature for composting is between 110 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is too low, the compost may not be breaking down properly, leading to bad smells.
- You can also add 15-30 cm deep browns over the top of the compost which will not let the bad odor escape from the compost. But if bad smell is there in the compost, there is definitely something wrong with it, so it’s better to figure out the cause of bad smell