Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Thursday 16 August 2012

Hot Bin trial after 4 weeks - first sight behind the compost hatch!

Ok, so I have had the HotBin for just over four weeks. I took these photos on Day 30, first thing in the morning.

So far, I have been very impressed. The HotBin has "eaten"  many refills of material (more than 3 of them a week since the start) of mainly green waste (weeds, potato haulms, grass etc) since I got it.
Each time the level dropped down to a settled minimum and the internal temperature settled back down to around 40 C,   I refilled the HotBin to the top.  Obviously as time passed there was more material left in the bottom of the HotBin, so I could put less and less inside as there was less room. But I estimate I have put more than 800 l (ish) of waste, by volume, into the HotBin, which then worked to reduce this material down to coarse mulch consistency at the bottom of the HotBin. In four weeks.

By comparison, the Dalek bin has been refilled once during this period - so has taken roughly 500 l of material ( initial 330 l plus a refill of another 150 ish l)

I have had a bit of a problem with the external thermometer, but as I am getting the internal temperatures and as the material is disappearing at a rate of knots I guess I must be doing it correctly so I am not worried. HotBin are talking to me about this issue and I am getting a replacement soon.

Whenever I open the lid, there is steam and heat! As long as there is a fresh charge of waste to work on the HotBin has kept at a steady 55 - 65 C  inside - it usually takes 3 days for the temperature to drop to around 40 C - by which time the HotBin needs (and gets)  a refill.

But after four weeks the partially composted material was building up inside the HotBin, so I decided to open up the hatch and take a look, with a view to possibly removing any material which had composted enough.

I undid the two ratchet straps which help to hold the front hatch in place

having first put an old, split compost bag down to catch any material which I took out.

hatch open for the first time in 30 days!

I must admit I was surprised to see how well the material had already composted down.

Slugs on the inside of the hatch - they get everywhere!

As always my henny "helpers" appeared to see what was going on

See how much mulch grade compost has been produced! In a month! I removed 3 buckets full of material, it was rather wet and a bit coarse to use as compost just yet, but perfectly acceptable as a mulch and if put in another bin, would make good compost within another few weeks. Which is what I am going to do with it.

I did find it a little difficult to remove the material from the bottom of the bin for two reasons. I found it physically hard to get the stuff out because of the other material above it. I also was concerned about cutting into the bin itself with my spade.

The Hotbin, three quarters empty again, waiting for a refill.

Which it got, of all sorts of stuff including bindweed ( I love watching the bindweed cook and go black inside the HotBin!)

By comparison my (larger!) Dalek compost bin , filled at the same time, under the same conditions and with a mixture of the same material, had produced a very small quantity of mulch quality standard compost. But the rest of the material in the bin was not decomposed very much at all. I removed less than a quarter of a bucket of usable mulch compost in the bottom of the Dalek bin.

Now do not get me wrong, that is very good going for a Dalek compost bin, in high summer I expect to get usable mulch from one of these in around fourteen weeks - but not in four.

So - the HotBin is yet again really impressive. I put the material I removed from the bottom of the HotBin into the Dalek bin, and personally I think that is what I am most likely to use the HotBin for, as a very rapid means to process huge volumes of compostable material and convert it into a much smaller volume of mulch grade compost. This can then be either used or put into a Dalek or other compost bin to complete the process - if you want finer, more mature compost.

And by the end of my afternoon outside, the Hotbin had already reached 55 C internally. And by the next afternoon it was up to 68 C.

Truly a "Hot Bin"


  1. Hi,

    Having not had a great deal of success with "dalek bins", I was contemplating a tumbler bin, then noticed the "hot bins" that were now on the market. The "Green Joanna" is another. (n.b. I don't work for them!).

    However, today I discovered this "back to basics" method of hot-composting:

    hot composting in 18 days - Berkley method

    and then found this similar posting:

    the applicance of science

    (and one can find similar articles around the web).

    I must admit, a "hot bin" looks like a little less hard work! :-)

    I might give the "back to basics" method a try though.

    Best Wishes,
    Montmorency, aka Mike.

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  3. I have been composting for some 35 years, when I lived in Singapore I had a 3 section compost bin made of wood, by turning the compost over every week I was able to produce good compost to add to the flower beds in 6 weeks. The humidity and temperature there was ideal.

    Now a days I am older and have less strength so I leave it by itself until I need to clear the compost, I made a two section compost with wood one cubic meter each section, some 10 years ago and it is insulated inside with the type of material used for insulating homes, so far it work well.

    But I am considering the hot bin for the kitchen waste as 3 of my neighbors use it but I am the one making sure it work fine, the hot bin looks perfect and I guess could look fine anywhere
    Thanks for taking the time to write the blog, very interesting, I am mad about composting.
    Best regards

    1. I got the hotbin and worked great, it reached a temperature of 60 degrees in 5 days. I transferred the content of the compost after 4 weeks to my other compost and it was really good.
      Since them I have refurbished my old compost and used a 5cm thick insulation material and so far the compost has reached a temperature of 50 but I am only using it for garden waste and using the hot bin for kitchen waste.

    2. Excellent! Glad it worked so well for you :)

  4. Hi I have just purchased a hot bin and filled it today. I will be interested to see how it progresses, and thanks for a very interesting blog.

  5. I am contemplating buying a hot bin which is expensive so I want to make sure it will be useful for me. At present I dig all kitchen waste straight into the soil and let the worms do their job which they do very well There are only two of us living at home. Will I have enough material for the hot composter?

  6. I mix my kitchen waste with garden waste on the hot compost bin and every 4 weeks I empty half and place it to finish on my other compost which is also insulated and last summer I managed to reach 60 degrees.
    I went away last winter and the hot bin was only filled by one person so when I came back it was not working so I started again mixing garden and kitchen waste and it got up to the high temperature.


Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.