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compost pail - worth it?

I'm late on gifts this holiday season. I want to buy my mom one of those fancified compost pails. do I get the stainless steel, the ceramic, or the bamboo one I just found online, with the liner that's dishwashable? Is this just another one of those glorified, overpriced kitchen gadgets? Should she just stick with her stainless steel bowl? Online reviews are mixed... I'm torn!

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  1. My sister uses a plastic bucket, highly washable, and dumps in into her outdoor compost heap every day or so. I've seen the stainless steel and ceramic pails; while pretty, they struck me as a kitchen item for one with deep pockets. Useful, I'm sure, but maybe not worth the price.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      +1 Plastic bucket for the win. And, if buy the plastic bucket at the right store, it may even come with some ice cream in it...

      1. re: Indirect Heat

        +2 (or whatever it is now) on the plastic bin/pail/bucket. Ours has a hinged lid attached which kinda gets in the way, but it's nice in the summer when fruit scraps can start to ferment pretty quick. Easy to rinse, which I usually do over the backyard bin to give the rest of the pile a drink.

    2. If she's already tossing out the compost everyday, or against the idea of collecting it for more than a day, then I don't think she needs a compost pail. As far as I can tell, that fancy bucket offers a place to slip in a charcoal filter to stop the odor, and provides nothing more than what a mixing bowl can accomplish.

      1. Mine is plastic and has a large roll of decomposable bags. I believe it was about $15 or so - cheap. The roll of bags will last about two years. The plastic pail has vents and doesn't smell. As it uses bags you don't have to even wash it very often at all. I love the idea of composting as a Master Gardener and love how it adds happiness to my veggies. So, to me it is worth it.

        1. I've been using an attractive but cheap white metal canister from Ikea for more than 5 years. I don't think the charcoal filters are necessary, though I do sort of like the idea of biodegradable plastic bags.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Glencora

            Yes - the bags are great. The plastic pail is cool as it is vented all over the place but, as Indirect Heat mentions above, you could easily use a pail that contains, well, ice cream! That would have been a nice bonus...

          2. Mine's a small galvanized steel farm bucket, the kind that has a special bail to lock the lid on, so you can leave it outside the back door and critters won't make a mess. About $10. Doubles as a fireplace ash bucket.

            Something to think about: At our city house, the solid waste utility just changed its recycling rules, and now allows all foodscraps to go into the yardwaste bin. Your mom's may be next.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kaleokahu

              Mrs W couldn't be happy until she got the metal pail -
              we've had it three years and to my knowledge she
              has never emptied or washed it. I do it all - then I
              find garbage which should be in it in the trash. The
              same charcoal filter that was in it when she bought it
              is still in the lid. The place that sold us the pail has no
              replacement filters and see they quit selling the pails.
              I will say the filter still does the job.

              Then there is the two heavy duty black plastic 55 gallon
              composters sitting in the back yard - don't get me started
              on them.

              1. re: Johnny West

                Things do get tossed by mistake. Going through a batch of finished compost this fall I found a rusty strawberry huller, a cherry pitter and a corkscrew! It's still worth it, IMO.

            2. Whatever will be convenient and easy to clean. We've been composting all of our kitchen scraps for years along with yard waste, manure, barn hay, etc. DW, against my objections, has always insisted on using my B&M bean pot, and finally broke the lid this past week. It got glued so life goes on. Of course it is bean pot size so it gets emptied every other day or so what with all the fruit peelings, egg shells and all we generate.

              But the key is it is easily washable and fits on the counter.

              1. "Compost pail- worth it?" Reading all the posts, it seems to me "not worth it" is the consensus. Around here, we throw out too many plastic "12 oz' (formerly 1 pound) coffee containers, and it hurts me not to find a use for that amount of sturdy plastic. At least one such coffee can has been recycled into our compost container, on the counter right next to the sink. It has a lid, we empty it every 1 to 3 days, and we've never had a problem with odor (filter???) Maybe if we have a large bunch of onions peelings or something, we will empty it almost immediately. About once a month, I go to the outdoor compost heap and dust off the dried coffee grounds and remove the coffee filters from the pile, and add these to the regular garbage.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Florida Hound

                  A quick P.S... Our humble Folgers compost can is actually a 33.9 oz container.

                2. I agree with what a lot of previous posters have said -- if you empty the compost bucket daily, any easily washable container (including a stainless bowl) is fine. Some of those compostable bags can also be used in lots of containers you probably already have around the house, so I don't think it's necessary to buy a special pail for those.

                  Personally, I have a cheap ceramic one that I can put charcoal filters in, but I usually don't bother in the summer when I tend to empty the container every day. But in the winter, when we get snow and are often producing less vegetable scraps, the compost can sometimes sit for a day or two before going out -- in that case, the charcoal prevents odor.

                  But even if you wanted that, I wouldn't spend more than $20 for it -- since you could set up a similar rig if you just have a bowl with a fitted lid. Just punch some holes in the lid, tape a charcoal filter to it, and you'd get the same effect. Not as elegant, though. But compost rotting in your kitchen is hard to make elegant in any case. :)

                  1. And of course there's the NatureMill Deluxe Electric Kitchen Scrap Composter (for the compost person who has everything, LOL)


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: dessert_diva

                      This isgetting to the point of unnecessary.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        LOL, even leaving aside the pure irony of creating a "green"-targeted item that needs ELECTRICITY in order to operate? ;)

                        Not to mention the "new improved upgraded stronger motor":


                        Although it does offer an "Energy Saver Mode", LOL

                        I see that Williams-Sonoma is now selling these (branching out from the garden to the kitchen market, apparantly). http://www.naturemill.com/products.html

                        I wonder if most people realize how small these units are? They are less than 2 ft square (12" wide x 20" deep x 20" high). Clever photography of the units: All photos containing an adult do not show the entire person; the only whole-person/product photo shows two children standing next to it. A classic advertising trick to disguise the true scale of an item, since many people don't bother to read specification data and often are hooked by photos and purple prose.

                      2. re: dessert_diva

                        I gave it some serious thoughts when I was living in an apartment. I only knew of two ways to compost without any outdoor space: worm bin or using that little machine that would fit nicely in my laundry "room".

                      3. I'd happily use the [very pretty] stainless bucket if I had room on the counter. But alas, not in the current kitchen. There's barely room for the 1 quart yogurt tub. What I remember of the stainless bucket was that it does not harbor odors, the same way as the plastic buckets do.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: KarenDW

                          Regarding odors, I have a large plastic compost bucket with charcoal filter that lives under the kitchen sink. We don't empty it every day, particularly in winter when fewer fresh veggies and fruits are present.

                          After I empty and clean the bucket, I put a square of folded newspaper on the bottom, add a quarter cup or so of vinegar (white or cider), and then never have a odor issue. Even in the heat of summer. Not saying anyone should go out of their way to get a plastic one but if you already have it but are concerned about odor, vinegar does work nicely.

                        2. Compost buckets are like compost bins, they should not cost a dime! Composting is about reducing waste and energy, the expensive tumbling and aerating gimmicky products may help but are non essential. I use a mixing bowl. A crock with a lid looks good and works great. Buy you mom some champagne or fancy olive oil

                          1. I'll go ahead and weigh in *for* the fancified compost bucket. I've had a one gallon stainless steel model with charcoal filters in the lid for a number of years and I just love it. My kitchen is small enough (and I'm just shallow enough) to need everything in it to be both utile AND beautiful - I don't have room for another bowl of scraps on the counter or the tolerance for a big plastic bucket sitting around. The nice-looking stainless steel sits tidily under my kitchen island and looks, well, nice. I notice the buckets at, say, Williams-Sonoma are not cheap, but I picked up the same model that WS sells at my co-op for about $30.00 - which I consider is a reasonable gift price for the durability. As for replacement charcoal filters...well, as well as being a bit shallow, I'm selectively lazy and have never replaced them - largely because we never have had an odor problem (we go through a lot of vegetable matter and do empty it nearly every day, but sometimes have gone quite a bit longer) and I'm also a bit cheap. I have rinsed the filters out from time to time, and seem to have no problem at all with odor. Except for one August vacation without emptying the thing, but that's not really the bucket's fault. Even left in such a state, it was easy to clean.

                            Is it necessary? Naw. But I love it. Mine was a gift too. If your mom would like it and use it, why not?


                            1. My Mom's is still called "The Chicken Bucket" [although she and Dad haven't had chickens for nigh upon 2 decades] and is a 2-gallon plastic ice cream bucket. One of my childhood chores was throwing its contents into the chicken lot; now Dad tosses it onto the compost bin. Every so often it will crack or get overly stinky and it gets replaced.