Soil containing bones composting using bokashi microbes

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Composting bones with bokashi

A common question we get asked is: Can I put bones in my bokashi composter?ย This is really two questions about composting bones:ย can I? andย should I? The first is easy…. the latter is not so black and white.

Can I put bones in my bokashi composter?


See, told you that was easy! The bokashi composter will help remove pathogens associated with composting meat bones. The fermenting process of bokashi composting will mean that the bones are not attractive to pests. So, yes, you canย put bones in your bokashi composter. They will break down in your garden soil, eventually.

Should I put bones in my bokashi composter?

Soil containing bones composting using bokashi microbesIt depends! Bones take a long time to break down, even after they have been through the bokashi composter. If you are happy digging bones up from your garden then, go ahead, throw your bones into your bokashi composter.

Personally, I love the ease of putting absolutely everything into my bokashi composter. So, I do throw all of my bones into the bokashi composter; chicken carcasses, rib bones… everything. I know where I have buried the bokashi pre-compost in my garden as I will still dig up bones months later!

I know some people who use the bokashi system almost exclusively for meat and bones. For example, if you have a successful vermicompost or hot-composting pile you may be able to compost most of your food waste that way. The bokashi composter allows you to compost those harder-to-compost items such as bones.

Similarly, those of you using bokashi compost to strive for zero waste will likely want to put your bones into your bokashi composter too.

However, if you want to have fine soil in your garden or you will be sieving the compost pile, then you likely shouldn’t add your bones to your bokashi composter. Likewise, some people don’t like the idea of finding animal bones in their garden beds. It really is up to you.

How to compost bones faster

There are a few techniques that you can use to help your bones break down more rapidly in your bokashi kitchen composter.

1. Make bone broth first

Bone brothBoiling your bones to make broth will help soften the bones. These softer bones will break down a bit faster when you add your bokashi pre-compost to your garden.

2. Grind or smash your bones

Using a meat grinder it is possible to grind smaller bones. Or you could smash them with a hammer before adding to your bokashi bucket. Like chopping your food waste, smashing or grinding your bones allows the bokashi microbes to get at a larger surface area. Ground or smashed bones will break down into compost faster.

Alternatively, you could wait until your bones have been through the bokashi process and been in the soil for a while before your smash them. By that time they will have become more brittle and easier to break.

It really is a personal preference and depends on what you want to get out of bokashi composting. Bones in or bones out…. its up to you!

Order now! Find all your bokashi composting supplies in our online shop.

Other posts you might like to read:

Bokashi composting: how to get started

What can I put in my bokashi bucket?

13 responses to “Composting bones with bokashi”

  1. L says:

    The other day I stirred my compost (in a bin like the Earth Machine) for the first time since adding bokashi pre-compost. I found some chicken bones, and was pleased to find that they were floppy and already torn/split open. But then my curiosity got the better of me. I put it to my nose and smelled it. ……………………………….. I think putrid is what you call that. I was somewhat disturbed.
    I have a hard time believing that animals wouldn’t be attracted to that. The above article mentions that it is normal to find bones in the soil months later… has anyone ever smelled them? Has anyone ever had a problem with animals (other than the pets mentioned in the comments)? Are they not supposed to smell like that after being fermented? I feel like I am generous with the bran in my bokashi bin.
    I don’t mind finding them if they are safe. But the smell was on my gloves after, and the handle of the wing digger. Is this ok? Because ew. Am I supposed to pretend it’s not there? Is the surrounding compost “finished”? Just a little confused, as I was expecting it to smell much more like dirt at that point.

    • Nicki Casley says:

      As the blog post mentions, these harder to compost items (such as bones) take longer to break down than the rest of the pre-compost. How long has your bokashi pre-compost been in the compost bin? The bones should not smell putrid, as you describe, but if they are tearing and splitting apart then they sound like they are breaking down nicely. Make sure to mix the bokashi pre-compost thoroughly when you add it to your compost (or your soil). This putrid smell can occur when there are larger lumps of bokashi pre-compost which then take longer to be assimilated in the surrounding soil. Maybe this is why you are noticing the smell around the bones as there were difficult to mix in entirely?

      Happy composting ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. […] method of composting bones is by utilizing a Bokashi Style system. A typical “batch” of Bokashi soil takes 4-6 weeks however and it is unlikely that bones you added whole with break down in this […]

  3. Dominic says:

    I’ve been looking for ways to dispose of whole animal carcasses (my ferrets are prey fed so I have leftover bones and fur/feathers) I’m assuming if bones can go in a bokashi bin then the rest of the remains will be fine as well. And on another pet related bokashi matter , would the liquid from the process be pet safe, I’d be putting it in the garden part where the ferrets live and potentially adding it to a bioactive vivarium with a corn snake but wouldn’t want to do anything that could harm the animals …

    • Nicki Casley says:

      Hi Dominic,

      Thanks for the questions. Yes, any of the remains of the animal carcasses can be bokashi composted. We would suggest adding some fruit and vegetable waste too as the bokashi microbes thrive on the sugars and carbohydrates. Bones and raw meat are considered harder-to-compost items and we recommend adding extra bokashi bran to the process and be patient when waiting for bones to break down.

      The whole bokashi process uses naturally occurring microbes and all parts of the process (the bran, the fermented food waste, the bokashi tea and the finished compost) are all animal and pet safe.

      Happy composting ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Crystal Grimes says:

    Hi! We don’t have enough food scraps in a day to make a 1 inch layer in the bin. Can I put it in at the end of the day without putting the bran on top until I get the 1 inch? I appreciate the info!

    • Nicki Casley says:

      Good question! Its better that you add a bit of bokashi bran each time you add food to the bin. So… if you dont have one inch worth of food waste, no worries, just put a smaller sprinkle of bokashi in. The bokashi bran prevents the food from rotting, and instead starts a fermentation action. So if you add food without the bokashi bran and it sits for a while, especially in the summer heat, the food could start to rot.
      Happy composting ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. AJ says:

    Adding a lil bit of vinegar (like a tbsp in a whole crock pot) to your bone broth boil will also help get more minerals out of the bones and into your delicious broth, and the bones will be soft after a 24 hour crock pot broth cycle. You can’t taste the vinegar in the broth, and I can literally crush the bones with my hands after.

  6. Carla Braun says:

    I switched to bokashi composting a year ago when I moved up to the Yukon. One, there are no worms, so it seemed a good idea. Two, it’s wild animal country, so great (I thought) for bones. The trouble is, my dogs are scent hounds, so forget about a 12-inch dig! After a year, not only have they dug up every bone, but also every coffee filter, avocado peel, corn husk, egg shell, and pretty much anything else still recognizable.

    The good news is, it wasn’t bears who did the digging. But from now on, the bones will go straight to the dogs. And I’ll put the rest of the bokashi pre-compost in a plastic animal-proof composter and hope for the best. Maybe I’ll post the results next year.

    • Nicki Casley says:

      Interesting! Yes, it sounds like an animal-proof soil factory may be the way forward. Check out this post on how to make a simple soil factory

      Would love to hear how you get on ๐Ÿ™‚

      Nicki and the Bokashi Living team

    • Rachel says:

      This is good to know because I also live in the Yukon. However, I was going to use the soil factory method because I find that with our 60 frost free days nothing breaks down very quickly. I am still finding jiffy pots from years ago before I knew better.

    • Grace says:

      Lol……i can relate 100% My dogs did the same with my compost – not bokashi though. One night they gained entrance to my veggy patch and they ransacked it…chewed baby veggies, very accurately pinpointed + dug up every area where I had buried compost earlier that day and they did other things. Seems as though they had so much fun. They must have been excited by the different smells. I was heart broken with weeks of work and growth gone down the drain …nonetheless for peace’ sake, I have securely closed off the veggy area and they are allowed limited access mostly where I can keep an eye on them. The only solution 4 me is a barrier. I’ve just started my bokashi composting in my family’s waste reduction journey and I’m excited about the world of possibilites it opens up. I don’t have much composting space as I am doing urban gardening, so can I put my bokashi fermented waste once it is ready into a separate drum mixed with soil in order to complete the composting process? The idea would be to transfer the compost it to the relevant area of my garden when required.

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