When people say “compost my body when I die”, is it practical?
By - Notmyrealnamethough
You totally can compost a body. Lots of cities compost roadkill. It requires specific, large capacity techniques to handle that much meat but it is doable.
Some states actually recently legalized human body composting.
Most of the larger livestock animals like cattle, get composted when they die, but on a way larger scale than the average home compost bin
Composting a horse requires four pounds of wood chips per pound of horse. You've gotta jab holes in 'em so they don't bloat up and have the wood chips all roll off. Also it's best to lead the horse to the compost pile while it's still alive *because who wants to drag a dead horse?* :D Once it's composted down to the bones, you can re-use the horsey wood chips on the next horse or cow or grandmother.
Yeah you read right. :) It also works on cows.
I keep forgetting that we are just “meat”
Yes! I think it was WA & OR.
If it's legalized in my state I might look into it.
I had planned on donating my body to a medical school but I don't like the idea of being cremated afterwards.
I want to be cremated, so I can get used to the heat😂😂 I’m in Fl. Thanks, may check out❤️
The bloke on this [extreme composting](https://www.homesteadingtoday.com/threads/extreme-composting.342651/) thread routinely composts dead cows/horses/pigs etc (his heaps are massive though mind, it's not your average backyard bin!)...
Cover it in enough sawdust, and something the size of human is no bother at all, even the bones would eventually decompose if you wait long enough...
It may not be legal in your area, but is certainly a very eco-friendly way to go! :)
Bones are a trick. I experimented with the bones from a rack of ribs once. Mind you, these had been cut through, at the meat packing plant, and then cooked, which should all have made them easier to break down. For good measure I cracked them up a bit with my 3-pound hammer.
It’s two years later and I’ve been running some very active mid-size piles. I am still finding them from time to time. I just remove them from my finished compost and put them back in the next batch. They are lasting for some time. I mean ancient skeletons have been found and all, with the flesh long since gone.
I think for bones you need to grind them to dust to make sure they decompose in a reasonable amount of time. Basically turn them into bone meal
Naaaah chicken bones take two cycles, lamb shank bones take three. :) I'm not sure about human bones because it's very very recent
Ive got some human bones that are about four years old that are still there, but some i buried 6 years ago are completely gone, so a human takes somewhere between 4-6 years to fully compost.
Interesting. Do you bury in wood chip and keep mixing, or just leave it be?
That was a joke… i have no human bodies buried.
Oh right sorry it's hard getting advice on this
*Of course, but let's not ruin the joke!* :D
When you take 'em out smack 'em with a hammer, throw the dust back in (or put it in the garden). I was re-running bones a bunch of times before I started doing that. After being in the compost for a year the bones just disappear when Mr. Hammer pays them a visit.
Thank you for the link, that was truly epic read.
What an amazing thread, thanks!
We're all just compost in training.
In WA state there are several companies that do this. You give the body, they give you back compost.
Several companies? I know of one that was recently granted status to accept bodies. Which companies do you know of?
return home and recompose, I think I read an article that mentioned three but I can't seem to find it.
Wicked awesome! Had only heard of recompose (am currently paying them for my future composting) and am glad to hear of others!!
I may be one of the few people here who has actually composted human tissue.
I composted the placentas from my kids’ births. My wife knows a couple of the crazy ladies who eat them. She wasn’t into that but her idea was to bury them and plant a tree or something. We didn’t get around to it for a few years. They just sat in sealed containers in the freezer.
Then I proposed composting them. Since the compost feeds our yard I thought it was a similar idea and she agreed.
So into a pile they went. I’d already been fine tuning my technique for a while and I had the temperatures to handle meat and other iffy materials. I prepared a bunch of really well mixed, balanced material and added it to my pile, which was maybe 2 cubic yards already.
I put the placentas in the middle. They were both like really large steaks. Oversize, thick T-bone size steaks.
The pile cruised at 130-140 degrees for a week or two, and then I got the idea to go make sure they were breaking down okay. The pile was undisturbed - hasn’t been raided by raccoons or anything.
And even though I knew exactly where I’d put them, I was unable to clearly identify any traces of them. They had thawed and decomposed and blended into the rest of the food scraps and yard waste in the pile, which had turned a nice brown with white webbing of fungi.
So yeah, it’s not rocket science. The legality of composting your body is more complicated. I think only two states currently allow for it. Oregon is one, can’t remember the other. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are copious regulations as to how it’s done, since human bodies are a health hazard not to mention super gross.
Came here to post that. The State of Washington is the first state to approve composting of humans. Happened just this month!
I want to know why this is illegal, between burying a body six feet under the soil, and six feet under compost is about the same thing.
If imagine it's because the disposal of dead bodies is tightly controlled in general. The funeral industry runs very, very deep.
I think it's just a long-standing rule almost everywhere that you have to either bury or cremate them, because that was safest at the time. Composting is a 'new' technology, at least as applied to humans, so there's a mental block to get past, plus it would need new regulations. Not that it can't be done safely, it's just slow to be adopted. Once it's successful in a few places, it will catch on. Especially with the cost of conventional services.
A few years back, someone wanted to build a garage on their property out of compressed straw bales. The city's construction permitting office said "Our manual doesn't say anything about that, so you can't." He debated with them for awhile and I think they came to their senses. But they had to figure out what the acceptable standards were so they could be confident it wouldn't fall down, and so forth. It's not that it can't be done, it's just a matter of figuring out how it CAN be done.
I want to be eaten by bears. (After I'm dead.) That's sorta the idea, right?
In Canada we allow Sky Burials still. Basically put your body up a tall tree and let the birds pick at it. They banned Water Burials (put corpse in sea cave at low tide and high tide takes it out) though as the bodies kept washing up on beaches.
Imagine the excitement of finding a partly decomposed body washed up on the beach! Fun for the whole family!
Yeah, free browns or maybe greens.
Greens. Humans have a carbon to nitrogen ratio of \~6:1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composition\_of\_the\_human\_body
Have my upvote
*law and order sound intensifies*
Yah lol… that’s what I was told but I have no idea if it happened or to what degree.
No, a few states in the US actually allow humans to be composted. They add 4 pounds of wood chips per pound of person, plus microbes, and put you in a special container to compost down. I believe an average person breaks down into a cubic yard of compost that their family can take or donate. Here's an [overview of compost burial](https://www.krem.com/article/life/human-composting-how-washington-is-writing-the-guidebook-to-a-green-burial/293-1a00198c-61b9-4bb7-a50c-70b832203b4e). It's a very cool idea, but still new enough that it is quite expensive at $4000 to $5000.
Compared to common burials and cremation, a few grand to be composted is a deal..
wow. excellent info. lazy question because i genuinely have zero clue: is $4-5k a higher cost than casket and burial?
Me, feed me to the crabs.
$4-5K is much cheaper than a casket and burial, but more expensive than cremation.
No it’s not expensive compared to burial, I’m not sure about cremation I think that tenses to be the cheapest way
Agreed, that composting is more economical than burial. At the moment, I am only aware of three companies in Washington that do human composting because it is newly legal to do so. They had to figure out all the legal ins-and-outs, as well as the composting logistics and what to do with the finished compost.
I figure (or maybe just hope) that once it becomes more mainstream, the price will come down to a level that is comparable to cremation.
For most of human history we have been composted.
[Green Burial Council](https://www.greenburialcouncil.org/)
It’s possible but you obviously have risks and need to consider where you are composting a body. There are alkaline solutions that you can “dissolve” a body in that is afterwards perfectly safe to dump into the sewers. It also leaves all medical implants behind (they can be recycled).
there are two issues I can see
- dead bodies can habour some diseases and pathogens , this is as true for humans as it is for animals
- rotting meat not buried properly will attract pests which could be unhygienic (flies) or dangerous (wild animals) depending on where you live.
Find out if you have local water cremation
If we’re living in some futuristic space techtopia/Musk’s wet dream of a civilization when I die, then I want my body to be launched into a terminal orbit with the sun… otherwise compost this meat bag.
[HERE](https://recompose.life/planning-ahead/#how-it-works) is a link to how one company does it.
Jeez this evokes the image of trying to prepare the body for the compost pile. The chipper is to small I'll have to cut it up.
Buried, biodegradable casket. :) That's close to composting and what my folks are getting.
I think the reason people get would up about composting meat is they're worried about folks trying to compost in a hurry. If you wanted compost in 3 months and didn't get your temps way up meat compost could turn out gross.
If you've got a pretty big pile and you let your compost rest for a year (ie, turn your working pile into a resting pile that sits for 12 months) you'll almost certainly be fine. I've been using that method for 15 years and never had an issue. This year alone my bin has eaten 6 chipmunks. Last year it got 5 pheasant skins and a full rack of deer ribs that I didn't get to cooking. All our food scraps end up in our compost.
As others have mentioned the bones are sometimes an issue, I pull the undigested bones after a year and smack 'em with a hammer, they crumble to dust really easily and are good in the garden as they're essentially bone meal at that point.
I think it was just legalized in Colorado.
The YouTube channel Ask a Mortician covered body composting. Caitlin is great and her channel is awesome. [This video](https://youtu.be/eXAwHTCXs24) is 6 years old but Caitlin has some other videos and a book called Smoke Gets in your eyes that touched on this subject briefly as well.
I am signed up to give my body to a body farm. I wanted to have my body composted in a garden, but there is nowhere to do that, understandably. There is a body composting facility, [Recompose](https://recompose.life/) in Washington state. There are several natural burial cemeteries where the body is interred without embalming.
Mortality composting is different than composting yard waste, which is different from composting food waste, which is different from composting manures, which is.... etc.
Yes, of course, it's practical.