Hair decomposes slowly and can form lumps (mat) when being composted unless added to the bin in a small quantity to form a thin layer or mixed with other Greens. It is recommended that the bin is aerated every two or three
days for the first week to prevent lumps being formed and to speed the composting process. The more hair being added at any time the more important it is to mix it well to prevent compaction which might reduce air circulation and create anaerobic conditions.
Care should be taken not to overload the bin with hair. It should only form a small proportion of the Green material being composted. A compost tumbler may not be as effective as a conventional bin as it has been reported that the hair may not compost
completely in the time it takes other material.
Rodale describes a technique for composting hair developed by William Stafford which will deal with larger quantities.
The Stafford recipe
- 10 pounds Hair cut ¾ long,
- 20 pounds of cottonseed meal and
- 11/2 yards of leafmold.
This is mixed and watered and composted
for 30-60 days being turned regularly until rotted. It was then used as a mulch round rose bushes.
Environmental writer Janet Harriet quoted on the GRIST website suggests that dyed of bleached hair “may introduce toxic
chemicals into your compost,”
Research on the composting of tannery hair waste found that the optimum conditions were:
40 - 50 C,
- moisture content 55%,
- pH 7.0 and
- a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 35:1.
As this is the case hot composting will be more effective than cold
Hair can also be used as a feedstock in a wormery dog, human and cat hair is regularly used by home composters. Hair mixed with cattle manure has been used very successfully as a feedstock
in the wormery creating compost within a couple of months.
(PDF) Parameters for composting tannery hair waste. Available from:
Rodale. The complete Book of Composting. Rodale Books