Many people want to know if they may put human or pet hair in their compost bin. Yes, you can compost hairs and make a compost out of them that is nutrient rich and enhances soil for plant development.
In this blog, we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of composting hair, as well as address some commonly asked issues.
Table of Contents
How Long Does Composting Hair Take?
Hair is a natural substance that decomposes over time, but the pace of decomposition varies depending on a number of factors, including the length and thickness of the hair, the environment to which it is exposed, and the presence of other materials in the compost pile.
Hair takes a long time to degrade in general because it is mostly composed of keratin, a strong protein that is hard to breakdown. According to some estimates, a single strand of hair might take up to 200 years to degrade in a landfill.
Hair, on the other hand, decomposes considerably faster in a compost pile than it would in a landfill. The bacteria and microorganisms in the compost pile degrade the protein in the hair, converting it into nitrogen-rich compost that may be used as plant fertiliser.
How quickly hair breaks down in a compost pile is highly dependent on a number of elements such as the overall size of the pile, the ambient temperature and moisture, and the oxygen content. Hairs can take up to a year and even more than that to decompose entirely in a well-maintained compost pile.
While hair may be composted, it often doesn’t provide much in the way of nutrients to the pile. Hair can be composted, but it decomposes more quickly if it is mixed with other organic materials such as food scraps, leaves, and grass clippings.
Human Hair Nutrient Values
Hair contains various elements that are useful to plants, including nitrogen, sulphur, and keratin.
Hair contains nitrogen, sulphur, and trace amounts of potassium and phosphorus. The precise nutritional composition of hair depends on factors such as hair type and diet of the individual whose hair it is.
Nitrogen is the most abundant nutrient present in hair, accounting for approximately 14-17% of the total weight of hair. Sulphur is also a substantial component of hair, accounting for around 0.5% of its weight. Potassium and phosphorus are found in lesser levels, with potassium accounting for around 0.2% of hair and phosphorous accounting for approximately 0.1%.
Hair may be a beneficial addition to compost, improving soil structure and mineral content. It’s important to note that hair is a slow-release nutrient source, so it may take some time for these minerals to become accessible to plants as the hair decomposes in the soil.
|Nutrients in Hairs
Hair Types That Can Be Composted
Not all hair can be composted, therefore it is critical to understand which forms of hair are compostable. Here are some examples of hair that can be composted:
- Human hair: Human hair may be composted and is a good source of nitrogen. To hasten the composting process, hair should be chopped into little pieces before being added.
- Pet hair: Dog or cat hair, for example, may be composted just like any other organic material. However, it is essential to abstain from applying any chemicals, such as shampoo or flea treatment, on the mane. Cutting the hair into little bits might also help it break down more quickly.
- Horse hair: Even while horse hair may be composted, its tough, fibrous nature means it may take longer to break down than other materials. Cutting the hair into smaller bits or using a compost shredder may hasten the decomposition process.
The Advantages of Hair Composting
Hair is an excellent supply of nitrogen, which is required for plant growth. Adding hair to your compost pile can assist increase nitrogen levels and produce a nutrient-dense fertiliser. Here are several advantages of composting hair:
- Helps in the improvement of soil structure and water-holding capacity.
- Hair compost encourages healthy plant growth and development due to its nutrient content.
- If you use hair compost, you’ll automatically require lesser chemical fertilizers.
- Hairs are usually disposed in landfills, composting hairs reduces greenhouse gas emissions by diverting garbage from landfills.
Drawbacks of Composting Hair
While hair can be an excellent addition to your compost pile, there are some negatives to consider. Here are some things to remember:
- Hair takes a long time to degrade and may not breakdown completely before being used as compost in your garden.
- Hair that is in huge clumps or is twisted together might be difficult to compost.
- Human hair may include chemicals from hair care products that are toxic to plants.
- If pet hair is not composted correctly, it may contain bacteria or parasites that represent a health concern.
How to Compost Hair?
Hair composting is a straightforward procedure, but there are certain considerations to do to guarantee that the hair breaks down effectively. The following is a step-by-step guide to composting hair:
- Collect hair waste: Collect hair waste from hairbrushes, pet grooming, and hair salons.
- Cut or break the hair into smaller pieces: Hair that is excessively long might be difficult to break down. Cutting or cutting the hair into smaller pieces can make composting simpler.
- Put the hair in the compost bin: Layer the hair with biodegradable items like kitchen scraps and yard clippings.
- Turn your compost pile: Turn your compost pile on a regular basis to assist speed up the decomposition process and guarantee that all of the hair is broken down.
- Wait for it to decompose: Depending on the kind of hair and the conditions in your compost pile, it might take anywhere from several months to a year for the hair to completely compost.
Other Hair Composting Ideas
Here are some extra suggestions for efficiently composting hair:
- Avoid too much of hairs: If you add too much hair to your compost pile at once, it will clump together and slow down the composting process.
- Cover it: To assist maintain the temperature and moisture levels in the pile, use a compost bin with a cover.
- Don’t forget to turn: Turn the compost on a regular basis to help aerate it and hasten the decomposition process.
- Use it as fertilizer: Compost the hair and use it as a soil supplement or fertiliser in your garden.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does hair take to disintegrate in compost?
How long it takes for hair to decompose in a compost pile depends on a number of variables, including the hair’s composition, the composting technique, and the pile’s temperature and humidity. Because of its high protein content, which is difficult for microbes to digest, hair often takes a long time to degrade.
Hair can take anything from a few months to an entire year to decompose in a compost pile. To speed up the decomposition process, however, hair should be chopped into smaller pieces to maximise surface area before being added to the compost pile.
Note that just because hair has broken down doesn’t imply it’s completely digested into a nutrient-rich soil addition. It is usually a good idea to screen the compost before putting it in the garden, as the final product may contain leftover bits of hair or may not be totally broken down, depending on the kind of hair and the composting circumstances.
Is it safe to compost haircut hair?
Yes, composting hair from haircuts is safe as long as the hair is clean and devoid of chemicals or debris.
Is it possible to compost dyed hair?
Composting coloured hair is typically deemed safe as long as the dye used is plant-based or natural. Plant-based colours, such as henna, are manufactured from natural resources and are biodegradable, so they will break down in the compost pile without affecting the environment.
However, if the hair has been coloured with synthetic or chemical-based colours, it is better not to compost it, as these colours may include toxins that might harm the microorganisms in the compost pile or pollute the soil. These chemicals might also possibly damage plants if they are present in the compost that is used as a fertilizer.
If you are unclear about the type of colour used on the hair, it is recommended to err on the side of caution and avoid composting it. Instead, you may dispose of it in the garbage or search out other alternate applications for the hair, such as handicraft or pet bedding.
Can you compost hair from pets with fleas?
Because fleas may live and spread in compost piles, it’s best to avoid doing so if your pet has them. It’s also possible that the chemicals in flea shampoos and other flea treatments might kill off beneficial bacteria in a compost pile.
Proper disposal of flea-infested pet hair includes placing the hair in a sealed bag and then discarding the bag in the garbage. Instead of collecting your pet’s hair for composting without first treating them for fleas, you could do so.