Starchy and delicious, rice is a popular side dish that can be served at almost any meal. While it's considered a staple food in many societies, it remains unclear: Can you put rice in compost bins? And, can you put cooked rice in compost?
Although the short response is yes, we'll look at why so many people can't agree on this answer. In this post, you'll also discover 6 simple ways to compost rice so that you can enjoy this staple without worrying about its impact on the environment. Plus, we'll look at 5 mistakes to avoid in the process.
It's time to learn everything you need to know about composting rice at home! Let's get started.
Need a quick answer for that leftover rice sitting on your stovetop? Read the next section to find out if you can compost cooked rice and where it lands on the list of composting dos and don'ts.
Is rice compostable?
Yes. Rice is compostable but only under certain conditions. Both cooked and uncooked rice will break down if they are added to compost piles in small increments, over time. If too much rice is added to an entire pile at once, it will attract rodents, pests, and harmful bacteria.
Harmful bacteria is one of the biggest reasons people tend to avoid composting rice. It's true that compost thrives under the influence of certain types of bacteria. However, the microorganisms that grow on cooked rice are considered unwanted bacteria. If rice isn't properly broken down, your compost will smell putrid, attract unwanted visitors, and may cause plant disease.
Composting rice at home in 6 easy ways
Although rice can be composted, a traditional compost bin won't quite cut it. This is also the case with other leftover cooked vegetables. Instead, use the following methods to compost white or brown rice.
1. Try vermicomposting for leftover rice
Vermicomposting, also known as worm bin composting, uses worms to break down organic material. Vermicompost (or, "worm manure") is the substance worms produce in the food decomposition process and is an excellent compost material.
This composting method works for a variety of kitchen scraps, including rice. Although worms love rice, don't add more than 1-2 days worth of rice grains to your worm bin at once.
What's the difference between vermicomposting and composting? Composting refers to the natural breakdown of organic materials over several months. A compost pile relies on heat and oxygen to break down the materials, rather than worms.
2. Add cooked rice to Lomi
If becoming an expert worm wrangler isn't your personal compost calling, try a Lomi instead. Lomi is the best electric kitchen composter for breaking down cooked rice into nutrient-rich dirt.
Many people prefer to use a Lomi electric kitchen composter to compost cooked rice because of how quickly it transforms rice into a neutral end product. Lomi breaks rice down into Lomi dirt, a natural fertilizer for plants.
For this method of composting cooked rice, it's especially important to use rice without any additional fats or oils cooked into it. Read the full list on what can and can't go into a Lomi.
3. Use a hot compost pile for raw rice
A hot compost pile is a little bit different from a traditional compost heap. In order to properly break down your rice, a hot pile requires regular turning plus a balance of air, water, and green and brown composting ingredients.
A healthy hot compost pile maintains a temperature of 130-160 degrees Fahrenheit. This high heat naturally speeds up the composting process. Because of its elevated temperature, hot composting is great for composting uncooked rice and cooked rice. However, uncooked rice lacks moisture. To keep vermin away, hydrate the rice grains before adding uncooked rice to your hot compost heap.
4. Toss uncooked rice into a closed compost bin
A covered bin works great if you'd like to compost uncooked rice in addition to your cooked rice. Because the compost bin includes an attached lid, this method won't attract pests or unwanted vermin. Don't want to attract unwanted visitors to your yard? Use one of these best kitchen compost bins instead.
Similar to other composting methods, an enclosed bin will only compost rice in small amounts. Too much rice alters the balance of green and brown materials within your compost. If you have yet to learn composting basics, green material is nitrogen-rich whereas brown material is carbon-rich.
Green materials include cooked rice, food scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds. Brown materials include dead leaves, paper, twigs, and cardboard. The right balance of both gives beneficial microorganisms life, strength, and the ability to thrive. We recommend a compost carbon to nitrogen ratio of 25-30:1.
5. Compost rice in a Bokashi bin
A Bokashi bin is an ancient method of transforming organic waste into a fermented pre-compost material. The bin is typically kept indoors and requires the addition of a special Bokashi bran to break down kitchen waste. It's a great way to compost rice as long as you don't mind smashing it down inside the bin along with your other kitchen scraps.
Eventually, the bin turns compostable materials into a liquid that can be buried outdoors or diluted with water to create a natural fertilizer for plants. If you'd like more details on how this works, see our guidelines on how to use a Bokashi composter.
6. Send rice to a municipal compost system
If you live in a place with a municipal composting system nearby, you can easily compost cooked and uncooked rice. These facilities are typically equipped with industrial-grade equipment that can break down a spectrum of biodegradable waste.
In some areas, your household will be given a dedicated green bin that is collected on a weekly or biweekly basis. Add your cooked or uncooked rice to this bin. If you don't have a green bin, collect your biodegradable waste and drop it off at the nearest composting facility.
5 mistakes to avoid when composting rice
As mentioned before, rice can be composted but only under certain circumstances. If your compost pile accumulates layers of stale leftover rice, you'll likely attract rodents to the area. To prevent this from happening, avoid the following rice composting mistakes below.
- Adding too much cooked rice to the pile: It's best to add rice to your compost bin in small amounts. If too much uncooked rice or cooked rice clumps together at once, oxygen won't be able to pass through and properly break down this leftover food item.
- Composting rice with added fats: Only plain rice should be added to a backyard compost pile. Butter, oils, fat, and seasonings often found in fried rice, attract pests and lead to unwanted smells. Also, avoid adding salted rice to your compost pile.
- Forgetting to rotate your compost pile: Turning compost will help break down the rice faster. It’s recommended to turn your compost pile every two weeks. If you notice the compost is taking longer than two weeks to break down, add more nitrogen or carbon-based materials.
- Not enough carbon-based materials: White rice is primarily made up of starch. While it can be composted, it takes a long period of time to break down. Adding carbon-based materials like paper, cardboard, or dried leaves can help speed up the process. The best way to do this is to mix the rice with these materials before adding it to the compost pile.
- Not enough nitrogen-rich materials: Along with adding carbon-based materials, it’s important to add organic matter to your compost pile. Organic matter includes nitrogen-rich materials like coffee grounds and vegetable peelings. Read the full list of compostable items to learn more about these materials. Composting cooked rice with nitrogen-rich materials will help speed up the decomposition process.
Try Lomi for a convenient way to compost rice
So, our final answer to, "Can you compost rice?", is yes—but it requires the right composting process to do so successfully. If you're just starting to compost, the best way to deal with your leftover rice is with a Lomi.
Within one day, Lomi turns leftover kitchen waste, including rice, into nutrient-rich dirt. Lomi dirt can be added to your compost or used to fertilize garden plants. The best thing about it? No harmful bacteria growth or rodents sniffing around that smelly compost pile. You also won't have to worry about scheduling in regular times to rotate your compost pile.
We want taking care of the planet to be as convenient for you as possible. Although some say that it's easier to toss out your rice than try to compost it, we think there's an even better option. That option is Lomi.
Order your Lomi today or see what everyone is saying about Lomi.
Written by: Anna Buck