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human waste layer heats up

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New Member
Joined: 1 year ago
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Hi from Barichara, Colombia and thanks Wendy for sharing this fascinating system!

About three months ago we have introduced worms in our newly built system, and it is now in use for the last two months. Because of a slight smell of the human waste layer we almost daily have been adding a thin sprinkle of carbon rich material (ripped carboard pieces, wood shavings, etcetera). Since at some point the temerature of the organic material started to rise and worms creeped up and left the tank, we started to wet it down daily. After digging a bit today into the human waste layer, it turned out to be even hotter further down.. and steamy! So we have the folowing questions:

- How could be explained what happended?

- Should we stop layering of the human waste with carbon rich stuff?

- How can we (quickly) lower the temperature and create good conditions for the worms?

Thanks in advance for your answers 🙂 Greetings!

Eminent Member Admin
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 47

Gah! I'm so sorry! I only just saw this!

OK. Well the most likely reason that I can think of is that the woodchips you're using are too fresh? Or that the materials contain a fair bit of nitrogen (fresh chips from nitrogen fixing trees, etc)? The organic material needs to be thoroughly dead, otherwise there could be a hot composting process starting. Also if the material contains mostly finer pieces of organic material. It's good to mix in chunky stuff - prunings, etc - as it not only is much slower to break down, it creates more air spaces in the mix.

I wouldn't regularly layer the human waste with the organic material as most of the detritivores which you want to process the waste live very close to the surface. At deeper levels there will mostly be bacterial decomposition which has the potential to generate heat.

I'm guessing you've dealt with this by now but it would be good to hear what your solutions were.