A composting bin

Can I put stale spices in my compost bin?


You can put stale spices into your composting bin!

Key info
No category📂
6 months - 1 year

Get the right balance of brown and green composting materials in your bin with our expert guide.

How to Properly Compost Herbs, Spices, and Food Scraps

Composting food scraps like herbs, spices, vegetables, fruits, coffee grounds, and more is an eco-friendly way to reduce waste and nourish your garden. When done correctly, composting can accelerate decomposition and provide nutrient-rich matter to improve your soil.

What Food Scraps Can Be Composted?

Many types of food scraps and organic waste can be added to a compost pile or bin. Here are some of the most common:

Herbs and Spices

Both fresh and dried herbs and spices can be composted, even hot spices like chili powder. The active enzymes and oils will break down over time. Be sure not to add extremely large amounts of pungent spices.

Vegetables and Fruits

Fruit and vegetable scraps of all kinds like peels, tops, cores and skins can be composted. Citrus peels may take longer but will break down eventually. Avoid diseased plants.

Coffee Grounds and Tea Leaves

Used coffee grounds and filters add beneficial nitrogen. Old tea leaves also contain nitrogen and can be composted as well. They will decompose within a few months.


Crushed eggshells are a good source of calcium for compost and gardens. They will break down over several months, depending on the size of the pieces.

Cooked Foods

Leftover grains, breads, beans, pasta, rice and more can be composted. Cooked foods may decompose faster than raw foods. Avoid large amounts of oily, salty or processed foods.

Garden Waste

Dead leaves, plant trimmings and grass clippings make excellent compost materials. Chop or shred them to break down faster. Avoid diseased plants.

Paper Products

Small amounts of plain paper, cardboard, tissues, napkins and paper towels can be added in. Shred them first and avoid glossy or coated paper.

Pet Hair and Fur

Animal hair from brushing or grooming breaks down within a few months in the compost bin. Add in thin layers so it does not mat.

Lint and Dust

Dryer lint and dust bunnies provide carbon. Sprinkle in thin layers, avoiding chemicals, soaps or synthetic fibers.

How to Prepare Food Scraps for Composting

Proper preparation of food scraps helps speed up decomposition:

Chop Up Large Pieces

Cut or tear all leftovers into smaller 1" pieces before adding them. This gives microbes more surface area to work on.

Avoid Piling Up Ingredients

Mix and distribute diverse materials throughout the compost instead of dumping all the same scraps in one place. Blend them with carbon-rich browns.

Use Compostable Bags

Line bins with compostable bags or plain paper bags to collect food waste. This keeps piles neater and aids cleanup.

Dry Out Wet Materials

Excessive moisture slows down composting. Mix in dry browns like leaves or sawdust to absorb some dampness if needed.

How Do Herbs, Spices and Foods Break Down?

With the right conditions, most food scraps decompose within 6 to 12 months in compost:

Herbs - 3 to 6 Months

Tender herb leaves and stems decompose quickly within seasons. Heartier woody herbs take a little longer.

Spices - 6 Months to 1 Year

Ground spices break down faster than whole spices. Oils and flavors dissipate over time. Hot peppers lose heat but still add nutrition.

Fruits and Vegetables - 6 to 12 Months

Softer fruits and veggies degrade faster than thick peels, rinds and cores, which can persist longer. Acids and sugars feed microbes.

Coffee and Tea - 1 to 6 Months

Leaves, grounds and filters are consumed readily. Tannins and caffeine break down over months as long as piles are mixed.

Eggshells - Over 1 Year

Shell membranes compost within months but complete disintegration of thick, hard shells can take over a year. Crush them to speed this up.

Grains and Bread - 1 to 3 Months

Cooked starches like pasta, rice and baked goods get eaten quickly by fungi and bacteria in compost. Mold is common but gets outcompeted.

Paper and Cardboard - 1 to 6 Months

Clean paper breaks down faster into fiber than waxy or laminated paper. Soaking speeds decomposition. Shred or tear first.

So in summary, herbs, spices and properly prepared food scraps make excellent compost ingredients that enrich soil texture and nutrients. Blend them throughout piles with other materials for efficient, balanced decomposition. Avoid large amounts of oils or animal products and turn as needed. Then use finished compost to grow even more herbs and vegetables!

Frequently Asked Questions About Composting Food Scraps

Can I put any food waste into my compost?

Most raw and cooked fruits, vegetables, grains and plants can be added but avoid significant meat, fat, oil or dairy scraps, which can become smelly or slimy.

Will spicy foods harm my compost pile?

No, small amounts of peppers, chili powder and other spices are fine to add and enrich soil micronutrients when finished. They may repel some insects while breaking down though.

Can I put citrus peels or onions in my compost?

Yes but go easy on them. Their antimicrobial oils take longer to compost and may temporarily deter beneficial soil bacteria if piles get too acidic.

How small should I chop up food scraps?

Aim for pieces approximately 1 inch or smaller. This gives compost organisms much more surface area to colonize and speeds decomposition.

Should I bury food deep in my compost pile?

No, distribute ingredients evenly throughout, not just on top or bottom. Turning mixes everything together so it stabilizes at a consistent pace.

How often should I add food scraps to my compost?

Add a similar volume of food scraps whenever you accumulate enough, along with other brown and green materials to balance moisture and nutrients.

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