When watching videos about composting there seams to be two kinds. Those that are made from pallets, and therefore have air gaps and those with solid walls.

According to this video, the correct way to make smell free compost is by having the correct ratio between Nitrogen, Carbon, air, and water. The video shows a bin with solid walls, and here a video where he have a pallet based compost bin.


To produce smell free compost, should the bin have air gaps or not?

  • 1
    I had a black barrel that was on a roller you filled the barrel then every other day turned it. That really accelerated the compost time it had no openings and did not smell my current home our bin has slats and is a pain to turn I am going to build a barrel using a 55 gallon drum (I purchased the first one as a kit). If you like composting look into the barrel method it really works fast . Build it high enough for the wheelbarrow to fit underneath, I did modify mine from the factory I added 2 stops so the door was on one side or the other fill up rotate then fill to the other side more full.
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 2, 2020 at 13:30

2 Answers 2


It depends, but oxygen and airflow are important to the composting process so it shouldn't be truly solid walls. A compost pile that has solid walls will need to be turned more often and monitored to keep the moisture level at the right point.

  • In areas with a lot of humidity it is important to have good airflow so the compost pile isn't overly wet.
  • In very dry areas it is important to add water to the pile and reduce the escape of moisture with a compost pile structure that keeps the moisture in.
  • In all cases it's necessary to maintain the moisture and oxygen levels in an acceptable range to ensure the process can work.

Good luck!

  • So with solid walls it can become too moisture? Sep 2, 2020 at 16:58
  • Not if there's a lid on it - compost piles should be covered with something, but a good compost heap gets aerated regularly by you turning it regularly, regardless whether its solid walls or not.
    – Bamboo
    Sep 2, 2020 at 19:58
  • A good compost heap needs very little water, because the temperature will be high. "Wet and cold" is what causes anaerobic decomposition (into a slimy mess that smells horrible) not composting. The temperature in the middle of a fast-working compost heap can reach 50C (120F).
    – alephzero
    Sep 2, 2020 at 20:22
  • When mine is really going hot, it gets to near 70C. I live in a dry climate and my bin has fairly large gaps between slats, so I need to add water regularly. It's also uncovered - no lid on top. I have no problems with odor.
    – DCookie
    Sep 3, 2020 at 22:59
  • It's all about balance. It should be moist, but not too moist. Pick up a handful and squeeze it. If water drips out it's too wet. If your hand is dry afterward it's too dry. The local climate and the materials being added and the rate of turning will determine how much you need ventilation or water addition.
    – greggles
    Dec 30, 2020 at 23:38

One trick for proper composting is to put some tubes of pvc pipe with hundreds of drilled holes in between. This allows adequate air flow.

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