Unlocking the Secret: Can Bones Safely Decompose in Compost?

Can Bones Go in Compost? The Ultimate Guide


Bones are a common byproduct of our meals, whether it’s the chicken wings from your favorite restaurant or the remains of last night’s steak dinner. As an environmentally conscious individual, you may wonder if bones can be composted. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore whether bones can go in compost and provide easy-to-follow steps for including them in your composting routine.

The Role of Composting:

Before delving into whether bones can be composted, let’s first understand what composting entails. Composting is a natural process that involves decomposing organic materials to create nutrient-rich soil known as humus. This dark and crumbly substance enriches garden beds, nourishes plants, and promotes healthy microbial activity in the soil.

Composting primarily relies on carbon-rich “browns,” such as dry leaves or straw; nitrogen-rich “greens,” like grass clippings or kitchen scraps; water; and oxygen. These elements work together to break down organic matter into usable nutrients while minimizing landfill waste.

Can Bones Be Composted?

The Challenges with Composting Bones:

While most organic materials can be successfully composted, bones pose specific challenges due to their composition and durability. Bones consist mainly of calcium phosphate—a mineral that does not easily break down through regular aerobic decomposition processes.

The slow decomposition rate of bones increases the risk of attracting pests like rodents or raccoons seeking a meal. Additionally, their toughness makes them difficult to grind or shred effectively during traditional home-scale composting methods.

However, there are alternative approaches available for handling bone disposal without compromising environmental sustainability goals.

Alternative Methods for Bone Disposal:

Burying Bones Directly:

One way to dispose of bones while still benefiting the soil is by burying them directly in your garden. Dig a hole at least one foot deep and place the bones inside, covering them with soil. This method allows natural decomposition to occur without attracting pests or hindering the composting process.

Boiling Bones for Broth:

Another useful approach is boiling bones to make homemade broth or stock. By simmering bones over several hours, you can extract valuable minerals and nutrients while effectively breaking them down. Once finished, strain the liquid and use it as a flavorful base for soups, stews, or sauces.

After extracting all possible goodness from your bones, discard any remaining fragments into your regular trash bin instead of composting.

Incorporating Bones into Compost:

Grinding Bones:

If you are determined to include bones in your compost pile, an effective technique involves grinding or pulverizing them before adding them to the mix. High-powered blenders or food processors can break down small chicken or fishbones adequately.

However, keep in mind that larger animal bones may require professional equipment like bone grinders or specialized machinery not commonly found in household kitchens.

Composting with Bone Meal:

An alternative way to incorporate calcium-rich nutrients from bones into your compost is by using pre-ground bone meal as an additive rather than whole fresh bones. Bone meal acts as a slow-release fertilizer due to its high phosphorus content—a vital nutrient for plant growth and root development.

Mix small amounts of bone meal (available at gardening stores) into your compost pile during layering processes when adding other organic materials rich in nitrogen (greens).

The Conclusion: Exploring Your Options

In conclusion, direct inclusion of untreated whole freshbones in traditional backyard compost piles poses challenges due to their slow decomposition rate and potential attraction of unwanted pests. However, various alternative methods exist for environmentally friendly bone disposal.

Burying bones directly in your garden or extracting their nutritional value through boiling for broth are effective ways to make use of bones without compromising compost quality or attracting pests. Additionally, grinding bones into smaller pieces or utilizing pre-ground bone meal enables you to incorporate calcium-rich nutrients into your compost mix effectively.

By exploring these options and selecting the most suitable method for your needs, you can responsibly dispose of bones while still contributing to sustainable gardening practices.