If someone ask me “Can I compost in a metal bin”, my answer would be yes certainly you can. In this article you can find more about composting in metal bins.

Can I Compost In A Metal Bin

Can I Compost In A Metal Bin?

Yes of course. However, it should ideally be a galvanized metal compost bin. That way you could avoid rust. Furthermore, the durability of the metal cans is very high during winter when you compare the metal cans with plastic cans. Besides, this would be a perfect choice if you are someone who lives in a small backyard garden and wishes to make a compost bin, you could make use of a galvanized metal bin.

Having said that, there could be numerous materials which you could utilize to make the compost bins, however the metal garbage can would be ideal here. Making a metal compost bin is fairly an easy process.

Why you should try composting?

Compost would act as a great source of balanced blend of nutrients. The regular fertilizers would act faster, and chances are that it may burn the plants as well. Once you use compost , it is gentle and would be releasing nutrients at a slow pace. Compost is crucial in adding organic matter to your soil. Ultimately it would allow the air circulation also to take place quite effectively. Lastly, composting is quite useful for water retention as well.

The elements you need to arrange to do composting

  • Drill
  • 2- or 3-inch hole saw
  • Metal can with lid (32 gallons or larger)
  • Aluminum screen fabric
  • Epoxy adhesive or silicone caulk
  • Plant-based organic waste
  • Nitrogen fertilizer or compost starter (optional)
  • Bricks (optional)
Can I Compost In A Metal Bin

How to make the compost in metal compost bin

First and foremost, you should select a large metal trash can which consists of a tight-fitting lid. If you are living in a location where there are rodents and pests present, metal cans would be the most appropriate. Thereafter you need drill holes all the way around the can. You could make use of a drill or even a 2- or 3-inch hole saw to do this task. Ensure that you are making the holes in the lid, bottom and in the sides of the can and those holes should be 6 to 12 inches apart.

It is crucial that you are creating these holes as only then it would contribute to a better air flow in the compost can. In other words, It would increase the oxygen level and speed up the composting process in the bin. Thereafter you should attach the screening. You could use cut pieces of metal window screening to cover all the holes in the compost bin. You could use window screening to cover the holes inside the can. You may be tactful in using epoxy or silicone caulk for this activity.

Next comes the positioning of your trash can composter. Ensure that you place this in a convenient place. Further I urge you to raise it ideally on a couple of bricks so that it would better the air circulation under the can. Now you can add the compostable materials.

Start adding plant based organic material to the composter. For example, you could start adding fruits, vegetables, peels and cores and even some leftover cooked veggies if you have not added salt or butter on them. Additionally, you may also use elements such as coffee grounds, tea leaves, tea bags, weeds, leftover flowers and whatever other gardening trimmings.

However you should not use green material in excess as then it would make the bin too moist and make it release a foul smell. On the other hand if you add too much brown material such as leaves, twigs and shredded paper it would be difficult for it to generate the required heat level. Furthermore , decomposition would also take place at a slow pace. So you need to add brown material to green material at a ratio of 4:1.

If you wish to speed up the decomposition, you may be tactful in adding some amount of nitrogen fertilizer here. Alternatively you may also add a small amount of commercial compost starter too.

How to monitor the compost can

The perfect compost should be ideally like a wrung-out sponge. It should be slightly moist but not too soggy. If the moisture is too much, it would be anaerobic which would consequently result in a poor circulation of oxygen.

On the other hand if the compost pile is too dry, it would not be healthy for the composting. Thus , ensure that you keep an eye on the moisture level of the compost can regularly. Thereafter adjust the moisture level by changing the brown and the green material accordingly. In addition to that I suggest you roll the compost bin side by side every week or every two weeks . That way you could increase the oxygen level in the compost bin. In addition to that you may also dig in the pile and turn the materials as well.

If you spot the compost is dark brown and when it doesn’t emit any warmth, you are ready to use this. It literally means the decomposition is finished. So, you can either apply it around the plants as a surface dressing or even as a soil amendment.

Qualities of the best compost pails

You may use kitchen scraps as the main compost pails. However, they would start to release a strong odor. As they start to decompose. Moreover, if there are uncovered scraps, it would attract the unwanted insects as well. so ideally you need to go ahead with durable material which you could easily rinse out.

Furthermore, those should be materials which are not prone to emit unpleasant odors too. Besides that, those materials need to be well aerated too. Additionally those should be resistant towards insect invasions as well. Lastly you should be able to handle it easily too.

Can I Compost In A Metal Bin

Types of materials for compost bins

You could use ceramic, plastic or stainless steel, galvanized metal to make the bins. You may come across washable plastic liners. However stainless steel , metal bins would be perfect here as they would not absorb the foul odors. In addition to that you could easily wash the metal materials between the compost dumps as well.

Having said that, if there are ceramic pails which are specifically called as compost pails are also resistant to odors. If there are unfinished holes, they would take on odors. Furthermore, there are plastic material bins which would also last for some time and which are very light in weight too. However if you have a larger garden, you may use any number of composters for these.

The proper sized compost piles

The pile should be ideally three square feet at the base. Further they should be about three feet in height as well. if you have used smaller and uncooked piles, they would not be effective in circulating oxygen inside.

Is metal or plastic better for a compost bin?

Galvanized metal, stainless steel would be ideal here as they would not absorb any foul odor. In addition to that you could easily wash metal between compost dumps as well. That said you may also use a plastic trash can also to make a composter. However you need to use a one which has rigid plastic as then it would not split later on.

Compost can be super heavy and plastic containers may tend to deteriorate after several manipulations. In addition to that black or darker colored bin would absorb more heat energy from the sun and in that context, it would be best to use a respective colored container for this purpose. 

Some general Composting tips

Compost would lose volume as they break down. So, you may keep adding materials as the trash level reduces. However you will need to stop adding elements as at one point the content in the bin needs to convert into compost. In addition to that you could use multiple compost bins for the decomposition process. That would allow you to harvest compost from multiple composters while the others are at the early stage.

I suggest you avoid putting weeds as chances are that the weeds seeds remain in the compost bin and will end up landing in your garden. So, best is to avoid using them. In addition to that you need to refrain from using unhealthy looking plant materials as the pathogens can sustain while the composting process takes place. Ultimately they can spread diseases for your healthy plants when you apply them. You could be tactful in using sticks and twigs for this activity. However it would take a longer time to break down.

Can I Compost In A Metal Bin

Related question

Does a compost bin need air holes?

Compost bins need to have air holes. Once there are an adequate number of air holes, it would result in a successful composting. If you don’t adhere to this, it would make the compost pile stinky and messy.

Does a compost bin need a lid?

To answer the question whether your compost bin needs a lid, most of the time, you don’t need a cover. If you keep the compost pile uncovered, the breakdown of the compost would take place effectively. Composting process will mainly depend on several most important things and they are air, water and a mix of green and brown material.

Can you compost in a galvanized bucket?

You can use a galvanized bucket to do composting as well. They would ensure the compost you make in these bins are safe and toxin free. For example, the compost you make in galvanized buckets would not contain micro particles which would be troublesome for the composting process. 


So now you have the answer to the question “Can I Compost In A Metal Bin”, and it is always best to use a metal compost bin to do the decomposition process. They are light in weight and don’t emit any smell. So, try composting in a metal compost bin and enjoy gardening experience with these !

Credit to : Building Home

Read Next : Can You Compost In A 5-gallon Bucket? (Why Not!)


Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Environment and Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. My mission is to help other. You can use this knowledge to enhance your life THE BEST environments you possibly can.

Write A Comment