Making Dirt – Part 1

Note: This is part one of a two part article on compost.


Read part two – DIY vermicomposting worm farm – here.

I knew I was getting old the day I started to think that making my own garden dirt was cool.

Don’t get me wrong… I don’t think I’m old, and I don’t dislike the fact that I am getting older, actually I think it’s pretty cool. I just find it amusing the way our thinking changes as we age. The one wish I do have is that I knew what I know now when I was 16!

Kitchen Compost Buckets

Today I want to follow up on a promise I gave to several FiveCentNickel.com readers in my “Breaking Free From a Culture of Temptation” article a while back. I promised I would write a post detailing how I constructed a kitchen compost bucket for very little money. In the original article I mentioned how I was tempted to purchase a kitchen compost bin rather than make my own. Here is the snippet from the original article:

A store-bought kitchen composting bucket ($20) Here again, I made my own… and only spent $1.50! This will likely be the subject of a forthcoming post.

Both of these compost-related purchases were very tempting, and I really had to fight the urge to buy and instead choose the frugal road. Beyond saving money, I have more pride in these possessions — partly because I made/improved them, and partly because I know that I sacrificed my short-term wants for my greater goal.

Making my own bin was easy, cheap, and satisfying. Much more satisfying than buying one for $20, or worse yet buying one for $50! If you are not into making your own, you can purchase one of the two I was debating between. They are both high quality options that I would have gone with if I weren’t über frugal!


Store bought kitchen compost bins

  • The $56 option – a stainless steel kitchen compost bucket that employs a charcoal filter to eliminate smells.
  • The $20 option – this bucket is constructed of plastic and also employs a charcoal filter.

As I mention above, each of these are a solid option if your are not trying to play the role of Fruggie McFrugalpants. Prices posted were taken at the time of writing.

So What Did I Do?

I made my own of course!

My homemade, DIY kitchen compost bucket

  • The $1.50 option – an empty plastic coffee can with its very own built-in charcoal filter.

Here’s how I did it:

  • An old empty coffee can or similar free container with a resealable lid (I got a few from the office that were being tossed)
  • A package of charcoal filters from your local pet supply store – they sell them for kitty litter boxes (this eliminates the odor)
  • A drill with a 1/4″ bit
  • A hot glue gun (super/crazy glues should work fine too)

1.  Start with your parts and tools

2.  Drill 10+ holes in the lid with a 1/4″ drill bit


3.  Hot glue the charcoal filter to the lid

4.  Voila – the finished product

We store our DIY Kitchen Compost Bucket under our kitchen sink so food scraps can easily be added to it during food preparation. My wife is very particular about smells and was happy to find that no odor came from our homemade bin, thanks to the charcoal filterJust like with any other bin equipped with a charcoal filter, you will have to replace the filters every few months if you want it to remain effective.

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Comments

  1. Vera says

    I already use a coffee can for my kitchen scraps, but the filter is a great idea I hadn’t thought of. I also have an old kitty litter pail on my back porch, I just empty the kitchen scraps into it, then when it gets partially full I take it to the compost pile. I am going to add the charcoal filters to both. Thanks for the great idea.

  2. karin says

    thanks for this idea! i finally made mine today (i’ve had the coffee can saved for about a year lol). the only thing i did differently was drill 4 extra holes closer to the edge. then i used 4 brads to fasten the filter to the lid (instead of gluing it).

  3. karin says

    i forgot to add, i found the same exact 5″ filters pictured at my pet supply store. pkg of 2 filters for $2.79

  4. Regina says

    Hi Matt,
    I have been using a repurposed plastic ice bucket, labeled: “FOR MOTHER EARTH” for a number of years, it has a lid and no air holes. I have never used charcoal filters and just empty the bucket regularly.
    My question, what do you do with the charcoal filters? Can you compost them or should they be thrown away?
    Thanks! I just got a new stainless steel compost pail like the one you recommend for my birthday and I am wondering if the charcoal is necessary?
    I am like your wife with the gift and curse of a sensitive nose.
    Thanks, for sharing your expertise.
    Regina

    • says

      That is a great question Regina, and one I do not know the answer too. Perhaps someone else in the community does so let’s see if anyone else answers.