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Newbie who got off to a good start but now the temp is falling

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  • Newbie who got off to a good start but now the temp is falling

    Hello everyone. I got really good temps when I first started off and I'm a bit worried about what happens when the temp falls. If it goes down (which it has) and I do my best to boost it up by following the guidelines should I NOT put cooked food waste in it, or should I continue adding everything with the hope that the general cooked food waste will compost properly once the temp goes back up. We are a family that does eat meat but not at every meal, however I have been putting plated food wastage into the bin alongside peelings and the usual stuff I compost. Ive tried putting in the HOT WATER BOTTLE thing to give i a boost but it doesn't seem to help. I fill it every 3 or 4 days with a kitchen caddy of foodwaste alongside the recommended mulch and paper

  • #2
    Hi MikkiVikki,

    Thank you for your question.

    We have a couple of questions for you which will hopefully enable us to help you:
    • What temperature is your HOTBIN currently operating at? (Has this temperature been recorded using the lid thermometer or the internal one? If the latter, to approximately what depth has the thermometer stem been inserted into the waste?).
    • How full is your HOTBIN at the moment (1/3 full, 1/2 full etc)?
    • How far open is your HOTBIN valve?

    We look forward to hearing from you and we hope to be able to help you shortly.


    • #3
      I am a few months new if that makes sense and am having terrible trouble with my Hotbin. The temperature never seems to get high - I had to empty it once last summer and get rid of the nasty wet smelly muck. Started again and the temperature is still only between 10 and 20. Am getting rather fed up with the whole thing really. Been feeding lots of paper and cardboard and doing everything I have read about - I THINK!
      Is there a warranty on the Hotbin if it doesn't work? It seems to me that it would be easier to buy some mushroom compost or similar and put that straight onto the garden......
      I have gone from a very expectant Hotbin owner to a rather disillusioned one - Sorry!!!!


      • #4
        Hi Bellarho,

        We are sorry to learn that you are having difficulties with your HOTBIN.

        Can we ask whether any bulking agent has been added into your HOTBIN at all?

        With regards to a warranty, the warranty covers manufacturing faults only; it does not cover operational difficulties.

        We look forward to hearing from you and hope to be able to help you shortly.


        • #5
          Yes bulking agent has been put in together with paper etc. and then stirred around. Tried the hot bottle which helps a little but then temp goes back down again. I can't face having to empty it again, it is such a chore!!! And really hard to know where to put the wet smelly stuff. It cant go in my wheelie bin so it means bagging it all up and finding some nice farmer who might let me dump it on his land.


          • Spadelessade
            Spadelessade commented
            Editing a comment
            I would put any partly composted stuff back in the top of the Hotbin, not get rid of it somewhere else - it's too precious and you've put a lot of hard work and time into it. It took me a while to get the mix right etc so I had a few lots that were a bit smelly and wet till I got the hang of it.

        • #6
          When the temperature goes down in mine (which it does after about a week or thereabouts) I always add some freshly cut grass clippings along with the usual shredded paper, torn up cardboard, bulking agent, kitchen waste (chopped up pretty small), make sure it's all mixed up, valve slightly open, and the temp goes up after about a day or two even in the winter to around 40 - 60. I have found in the past that I needed more shredded paper and torn cardboard to prevent it all going smelly and wet, but I always seem to need the grass clippings to get the heat up. In the winter I've even resorted to mowing a bit of council grass!


          • #7
            Hi Bellarho,

            Thanks for your reply. We do have a couple of further questions for you which we hope you will be happy to answer:
            • You mention that the temperature of your HOTBIN is between 10-20°C.
            • Has this temperature reading been taking using the lid thermometer or the internal one?
            • If the latter, how far into the waste is the thermometer stem being inserted?
            • What types of waste are you adding into your HOTBIN?
            • How often are you adding new material into the HOTBIN and in roughly what quantities?
            • You mention that you add bulking agent, shredded paper and cardboard.
            • How often are these materials added into your HOTBIN?
            • Roughly what quantities of each of the above materials are being added on each occasion?
            • How full is your HOTBIN currently?
            • When did you last empty and restart your HOTBIN?
            • How far open is your HOTBIN’s valve?
            • You mention that you stir the bulking agent and paper in the HOTBIN. Is the stirring just within the material at the very top of the HOTBIN or do you stir this in with the material towards the middle and bottom of the unit?
            To help us with our diagnosis, would you be able to take some photographs of your HOTBIN and email them to us so that we can make a visual assessment of your HOTBIN?

            If you are, the most informative photographs would be:
            1. A photograph showing the lid of the HOTBIN
            2. A photograph showing the material at the top of the unit with the lid open
            3. A photograph showing the material sitting directly behind the hatch with the hatch removed
            We look forward to hearing from you.


            • #8
              Thanks Spadelessade - I will dig some of the nasty stuff out and put it back in. Maybe I am not putting enough in there - it is about half full. Here goes, a nice job for a cold Sunday afternoon.


              • #9
                Dear Hotbin, Answers are below

                lid thermometer
                kitchen waste and shredded paper and grass clippings and leaves (not many tho)
                maybe not adding often enough - approx 3 times a week and a couple of handfuls of each of the above and bark chippings
                added approx 3 times a week - sometimes more often and sometimes less often
                handfuls of bark chippings per handful of waste and same of paper
                currently Hotbin is about half full
                restarted about 3 months ago I suppose - not sure
                it is open about 2mm but that is hard to measure!
                must admit am only stirring top layer as it is rather difficult to reach down and stir the lower layers with the supplied tool - have tried with a garden fork but am not strong enough to lift it all around from such a difficult angle
                I will email the photographs sometime this week - if that is OK.

                Thanks - Bellarho


                • #10
                  At last here at the photos - sorry computer died on me yesterday.
                  Thanks for advice and help.
                  p.s. when opened hatch there didn't appear to be a nasty smell


                  • #11
                    Dear Hotbin, hope these pix show the state of my HB clearly enough. Look forward to your advice and comments.


                    • #12
                      Dear Bellarho,

                      Thank you for your photographs and for answers our questions. We are analysing this information now and hope to be able to come back to you with some recommendations in the next day or so.

                      The HOTBIN Team


                      • #13
                        Hi Bellarho,

                        Having carefully analysed the information and photographs you have sent over, we have a couple of recommendations for you which we hope will help to improve the performance of your HOTBIN.

                        Mixing the contents of your HOTBIN

                        You mention that due to the length of the raking stick provided, you cannot turn the contents of your HOTBIN beyond the top layer to aerate the material. Going forward, we would advise against turning the heap at all as the action brings the cooler material from the bottom of the unit into the hotter, more active layer of material at the top of the unit and causes heat to be transferred to the wrong material. This in turn usually results in the HOTBIN’s internal dropping as the bacteria are forced to try and generate new heat to compensate for what has transferred.

                        Please be assured that as long as you are adding sufficient bulking agent every time new waste is added to the unit and are emptying some material from the HOTBIN every 3-4 months, you should not need to turn the contents of the unit as the bulking agent aerates the waste in the HOTBIN for you. This should hopefully save you a back breaking job too!

                        Temperature readings

                        We understand that the lid thermometer reading is between 10-20°C. Can we ask whether it would be possible for you to take an internal temperature reading using the long stemmed thermometer and let us know how your HOTBIN is performing internally?

                        The reason for us asking this is that it is common for the HOTBIN’s lid thermometer to read a significantly lower temperature than that of the internal thermometer (regrettably we cannot provide you with an estimate of exactly how much as this differs day to day and user to user). Users can however experience a difference of 20°C between the two readings and still have a HOTBIN which is successfully hot composting.

                        The lid thermometer is there to serve as a guide, with the internal thermometer supplied for the accurate recording of the internal temperature. The reason for the temperature differentiation between the two thermometers is two-fold;
                        • First being that the increased distance between the lid thermometer and the hottest, most active waste is always greater than that of the internal thermometer which is inserted directly into this material.
                        • Secondly, the lid thermometer reading is also taking the temperature of the water vapour leaving the unit into account and so as the water vapour passes by the thermometer stem before leaving the HOTBIN via the valve on the lid, the vapour has a cooling effect on the temperature reading.

                        Ideally, to get the most accurate temperature reading for your HOTBIN’s hottest, most active layer, the internal thermometer only needs to be inserted into the top 5-10cm of waste.

                        Amount of waste being added

                        We appreciate that you have answered this question earlier, however we are a little unsure of exactly what you were referring to (please accept our apologies for this); would it be possible for you to clarify roughly how much waste is being added into your HOTBIN each week as a total volume e.g.5 kg of waste (volume), 10 kg etc.?

                        In addition to this waste, roughly how much shredded paper and bulking agent is added in terms of handfuls each week? Does the amount of bulking agent and paper remain the same for each feed or do the amounts added change depending on the quantity of waste being added?

                        You mentioned in an earlier post that you have added both shredded paper and cardboard into your HOTBIN. Which out of the following options would you say best describes your situation:
                        • More paper is added than card
                        • Paper and cardboard volumes are relatively evenly balanced
                        • More cardboard is added than paper

                        Furthermore, can we ask, when cardboard is added, in what sized pieces do they go into the HOTBIN?

                        Leaves and the HOTBIN

                        We appreciate that leaves are not being added into your HOTBIN in great quantities however, they unfortunately remain identifiable as leaves at varying different levels within the contents of your HOTBIN. Due to the nature of leaves, as they become compacted under the increasing weight of the material above, they often begin to form a dense and solid layer within the unit. As a result, leaves can restrict airflow within the HOTBIN overtime and cause the internal temperature to stubbornly remain below hot composting temperatures which is likely to be one of the underlying causes here.

                        If you would like to add leaves into your HOTBIN going forward, please be assured that you can do so. We would however recommend adding them into the HOTBIN very gradually and if possible, either roughly chopped or shredded. We appreciate that this may be more labour intensive, however the smaller the item, the larger the surface area available to the hot composting bacteria and the quicker the waste will decompose. To speed up the job, a number of our customers run over a pile of leaves with the lawn mower first to break them into smaller pieces before adding them to their HOTBIN. This should help to allow oxygenated air through your HOTBIN and provide the hot composting bacteria with sufficient oxygen to work optimally. In turn, this should help to increase your HOTBIN’s internal temperature.

                        We look forward to hearing from you.


                        • #14
                          Hi bellaro.
                          I have been having similar problems with my hotbin. I contacted the hotbin team for advice and followed it.
                          I have found that increasing the amount of paper has helped my situation, I roughly add double what is recommended, although this will depend on the type of waste you are adding.
                          I have at home a large type of screw anchor. (The type you use for securing a dogs lead in the garden see photo below). I have found this good for screwing into the compost and pulling up to break down any impervious layers of waste to increase air flow. Care is needed not to screw into the base of the bin so you need to do a rough measure first and stop before it reaches the bottom. It’s easy to use and requires very little effort to pull out. A garden fork seems a little aggressive for the bin?
                          The above post from the admin team should get you up and running again. Hope it’s soon.


                          • #15
                            Hi Jondy,

                            Thank you for your help and feedback above. As you mention, the amount of paper required unfortunately is dependent upon the types, quantity and frequency with which each individual 'feeds' their HOTBIN. Consequently, some users will find that they need to add more paper than we recommend as a general guide in the HOTBIN user manual.

                            If any HOTBIN user is unsure as to exactly how much paper (and bulking agent) they should add into their HOTBIN, please contact the HOTBIN Team at [email protected] and we will be delighted to provide some tailored recommendations.

                            Whilst a screw can be used in the HOTBIN, if sufficient bulking agent is added and the new waste is mixed well once added, the bulking agent should ensure that the unit stays aerated and that no impermeable layers are created. If you do wish to continue using the screw, please take great care in doing so as this could damage to the HOTBIN walls and base.