What Makes a Good HOTBIN Base Layer?
Building a good base layer provides a solid foundation for the on-going operation of the HOTBIN, but what constitutes a good base layer? Bear in mind that every base layer (like the contents of a HOTBIN) will differ depending on the waste you have available.
Not all Base Layers are Created Equal!
How Much Waste is Needed for a Base Layer?
A base layer is the initial amount of waste added into the HOTBIN which begins the production of heat. This is often referred to as the "critical mass" which is the amount of waste added to the HOTBIN when it reaches the height of the hatch (roughly half of the volume of the HOTBIN). Without this mass of waste the HOTBIN is unlikely to achieve hot composting temperatures.
Two options for creating a base layer:
- Add a large volume of waste (fast start)
- Add waste as and when (patient)
Be Patient - Reach the Halfway Point
Be aware that even if you are adding enough waste all in one go that the waste volume will drop as it starts to breakdown. Do not be disheartened if the temperature does not rapidly increase when adding your first batch of waste, be patient and keep feeding to reach that magic half-way point.
What Should Be Added in a Base Layer?
A base layer should have plenty of easy to digest waste types. All waste types have different rates of digestibility; easy to digest waste is broken down quickly by bacteria producing a quick but short- lived heat boost whilst harder to digest material produces a longer more sustained production of heat. In human terms it is simply the difference between eating a sugary treat which provides a short energy boost and something like a banana which produces sustained energy over a longer period.
Easy (Fast) to digest waste
- Vegetables and peelings
- Fruit and peelings
- Nettles and comfrey
- Chicken pellets
- Blood and bone meal
- Grass clippings*
*although grass is very easy for bacteria to digest, we would not recommend adding this in large volumes as this can become a very soggy mess. You can see more on composting grass here.
You can also watch our YouTube video on what waste to start your base layer with here.
Once the base layer is built, continue to add waste on a regular basis to ensure bacteria have a good source of food/energy. We recommend adding waste to the HOTBIN at least twice a week, the longer the period between feeds the greater the temperature drop if no medium/harder to digest material has been added for bacteria to breakdown.
Our feeding guidelines, are just that – guidelines. As each HOTBIN is different get to know your HOTBIN and its temperature peaks and troughs. Over time you will get used to how your unit behaves and can feed it appropriately to keep it hot composting.
Read Next: 5 Waste Types That Shouldn't Be Used As a Base Layer