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Pile Temp (or: I did a search, I promise!)

 
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I'm new to the forum and new to composting toilets. I'm sure this is a question that has been asked before, so I'm sorry in advance.

I started my first pile, using the Joseph Jenkins system, on June 20 of this year. I use fine sawdust from my local sawmill, do not separate urine, and the pile is located in the shade on my property in New York State.

The temperature has spiked a few times, mostly after new additions, to around 100°F. Other than these few times, the temperature has remained around 70 or 80°F.

I know I am only three months in to a 24 month cycle, but I'm nervous and just wondering if someone can reassure me that the temperature will rise and things will no longer look like poop and sawdust?
 
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Hi Bob, could you describe the type and positioning of your thermometer please.
 
Bob Tresach
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20" compost thermometer, center of the now ~12" high by 30" in diameter pile (in a 4'x4' bin lined on all sides with straw.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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What depth do you have the thermometer inserted?
 
Bob Tresach
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To the hilt.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Metal probe compost thermometers only sense temperature at the end inch or so. To get an accurate reading try putting it in 3 or 4 inches so that it is reading the active area. Experimentation will show you how the pile varies in temperature and how deep to put the probe in to read the highest temps. I was you a year ago and then stumbled onto this little documented fact. Report back after testing please.
 
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I found that the moisture content of the pile was critical to achieving high temperatures. For me, it's easy to have the pile too dry, so I make sure to water it enough (or use plenty of water while washing out the buckets) when I feed my poop-beast.

A bit of experimentation is called for - I certainly don't want you to adopt the usual technique of grabbing a handful of compost and squeezing it. With humanure, other ways of estimating the moisture content are called for!
 
Bob Tresach
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I'll try pulling the thermometer out a bit abd report back.

Moisture wise I'm pretty sur I'm good. I, too, am liberal with the rinse water.
 
pollinator
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I will be surprised if you get much heat before the pile is bigger.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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I know every case is different but I was getting 100+ F within 6 weeks of start up and now at about 16 weeks I have seen a high of 130 F.
 
Bob Tresach
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Wyatt: was your pile in the sun? What part of the country are you in?

I think I'm just going to stop worrying until next summer, and if it hasn't reached a high temp by then maybe I will turn it and add some starter.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Hi Bob, mine is in the open and gets full sun about 3 hrs after sunrise due to a large hill on the east. I am in central Ontario Canada just south of Algonquin provincial park. Lately we have been having frosts with daytime highs in the 50-65 F range. The highest ambient temp that the pile would have seen would be in the mid 80s F. I do end up with some extra moisture in mine since I add rinsed coffee pot water and old coffee as well as any extra cooking liquid and frying pan fats. If it has food content of any sort my compost pail gets it.
 
Bob Tresach
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Ok, more info:

About a third full (four months @ two adults and a cat), in the shade, temps anywhere this last month from 30°f to 70°f.

Max pile temp: 75°

Is the pile just too "young" at this point? Or should I be concerned?
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Hello Bob, you didn't say if you got around to varying the probe depth and if you did what the results were. The hottest part of mine is usually the highest part where the most recent deposit has been made. I would read the thermometer at the hilt and then relocate it a few inches farther in than the cover material. Make sure you leave it for 10 or 15 minutes to reacquire a temperature for that area. I would not be concerned per say but you could try adding some extra liquid or more greens if you have them to see what that does for the next heating period. Do you use soap when cleaning the pails?
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Forgot to ask Bob, how often do you add and how much at a time? Do you feed the compost anything extra?
 
Bob Tresach
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Bout two buckets go in weekly, and dawn dish soap. Any clues there?

No kitchen compost, just urine, tp, sawdust, and feces.
 
Bob Tresach
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Also yes, varied depths.

Thanks for the help!
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Some people have reported increased temps after stopping the addition of soap to their compost piles. Probably depends on the soap and the amount used. Your dumping schedule sounds average although most people add all kitchen scraps as well. This week my addition will be about about 12 days worth of human and cat waste, about 4 pails, as well as a five gallon pail of kitchen scraps which include coffee grounds, vegetable matter, turkey bones and any fat drippings created in that time.
 
Bob Tresach
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Wyatt, thanks for all the input!

I may very well use too much soap. Going to cease and desist on that for a month and see what happens.
 
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