Composting 101: What is the Difference in Hot and Cold?

Have you heard the terms hot composting or cold composting?  Have you thought, what on earth are they talking about?  I have!  It has nothing to do with the weather, actually it has to do with your hands-on approach to how you want to go about composting.  Simple put, hot and cold composting have the meaning of whether you take an active or passive approach to composting. 

Home made compost bin

Cold Composting

For cold composting, you simple select a space for your organic waste and continue to dump it into your pile.  You then just wait for it to decompose.  This can use cold composting in a container or even just a pile of leaves.  Although this may be considered the easiest way to compost as you just keep dumping into the pile and eventually it will breakdown; it will take much longer to produce finished compost.

Benefits of Cold Composting

  • Simple to maintain, just add your waste to it.
  • You can build it slowly over time.

Downfalls to Cold Composting

  • It takes much longer to produce finished compost.
  • It doesn’t kill weed seeds or plant pathogens.

Hot Composting

For hot composting, it requires a little more effort but much faster and balanced results.  It requires raising the temperatures to a heat that is high enough and for a length so that weed seeds and plant pathogens are destroyed.

Although this is not difficult, it requires a little effort in maintaining the pile with the proper amount of “Greens and Browns”, water and aerating to keep the oxygen levels high enough to keep your microbes fueled and happy.  By planning and maintaining the proper mixture, you will have the finished compost at a much faster rate.  When you compost, you will also have the end results of having a weed and pathogen free compost to feed your garden.

Benefits of Hot Composting

  • Produces rich compost quickly
  • At the proper temperature, it kills the seeds of weeds and pathogens in the compost.

Downfalls of Hot Composting

  • Requires more maintenance, moisture control and turning.
  • Requires the need to maintain the proper “Brown and Green” balance.

Go here to read my other Composting 101 articles.

Comments

  1. says

    This is some great information, I honestly never knew the difference! Apparently when I was little we had a cold compost in our backyard which did seem like it took forever to decompose. Thanks for the info!

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