Popcorn is a very popular snack, and sometimes we can eat a lot at once! But if you ever overestimate your hunger and end up with too much popcorn, what do you do with the leftover popcorn and the kernels? Can you add them to your compost bin?

Popcorn kernels and popped popcorn can be added to compost. Popcorn with butter, salt, sugar, and oil can be added to compost as well. Adding burnt popcorn to a compost bin is a great way to dispose of it. However, microwave popcorn bags cannot be put into compost and must be thrown away.

Now that you know that popcorn can indeed be put into the compost pile, you may be wondering why microwave popcorn bags can’t be put into a compost bin. Composting is an interesting process, so let’s look at the ways it breaks down popcorn.

Can I Add Popcorn to My Compost?

You can add popped popcorn and un-popped popcorn to your compost pile or bin. You can even put burnt popcorn, (both burnt kernels and full pieces), into your compost bin or pile. If you have leftover popcorn or a lot of un-popped kernels left in the bottom of the bag that you can’t or do not want to eat, you can toss them into the compost pile and they will disappear quickly.

Reddit composters say that you can definitely put popped popcorn and popcorn kernels into your compost bin, but it may take a while for the kernels to completely break down, so be prepared to see them in the mix for a little while when you open your compost bin. (Source)

Popcorn can be composted because it is technically a plant seed that has been exposed to heat and exploded, getting rid of most of its hard shell in the process. It is a natural food item, so it can easily be added to a compost bin.

Can I Compost Kettle Corn?

You can add kettle corn to your compost bin or pile if you have some leftover and do not want to eat day-old kettle corn. Kettle corn is just popcorn, but with extra sugar and oil instead of butter and salt. Kettle corn will break down in the compost bin or pile in the same way that other popcorn types will.

Have you ever wondered if you can freeze popcorn? Read there article here

Will Composted Popcorn Attract Pests or Birds?

Popcorn that is in the compost bin or pile will attract bugs and birds. Some bugs are good, but others will be a nuisance. If you put popped or un-popped popcorn in the compost bin or pile, birds will come to your compost pile or bin and dig around to try and find the popcorn. Birds can eat popped and un-popped popcorn, and if you put some of it in your compost bin, they will find it and eat it.

Chipmunks and squirrels may also come to your compost bin and hunt for the popcorn in it, especially if there are a lot of kernels. They will consider the popcorn kernels to be a special treat that they don’t normally get.

If you put popped popcorn or kernels in your compost bin, bugs will find a way to get in and munch on it. Ants, flies, and beetles will be the most common bugs attracted to your compost bin if you put popcorn into it, so don’t be surprised if you see many ants and flies around your compost bin, even if you closed the lid completely. If you are uncomfortable with the number of bugs that are around your compost bin, you may have to spray a pesticide or relocate your compost bin.

Even if you securely close the lid of your compost bin, your troubles may not be over. If birds, chipmunks, and bugs find out that your compost bin potentially is a food source, they will keep coming back so they can eat the goodies that are inside. If you don’t want these animals coming to your compost pile afterward, you may have to move it to a different location where they can’t find it as easily.

Burnt popcorn will likely not attract birds, bugs, or chipmunks because burnt food smells awful, especially to bugs and other animals. If you put a few burned pieces of popcorn into your compost bin alongside the rest of the unburned popcorn pieces, this may help deter the scavengers from visiting your compost bin. The burned popcorn will mask the smell of the other popcorn and food scraps, and no animal wants to go somewhere that has burned food. If you’ve ever burned popcorn inside a building, you know it produces a strong smell!

However, if there are more unburned popcorn pieces than burned pieces of popcorn, the normal popcorn smell may still overpower the burned popcorn smell, and pests will still come to your compost bin to find these tasty morsels.

Why Does Popcorn Attract Animals to My Compost Pile?

Popcorn attracts animals because of the butter and salt that are often added to it. The butter and salt attract bugs, but the actual kernel attracts the birds and chipmunks. To them, the kernels and the popcorn smell sweet, especially because of the butter and salt.

Kettle corn will also attract animals. In fact, they will likely attract more bugs than standard popcorn will because they are coated in sugar and oil rather than butter and salt. Since sugar is sweeter than salt, more bugs will come to your compost bin if you put kettle corn and kettle corn kernels in it.

If you do not want to attract bugs, birds, and chipmunks to your compost bin, but still want to put your popcorn and kettle corn in it, then thoroughly bury them beneath the rest of the compost. This will make it harder for the animals to find the popcorn, plus it will dilute the smell. Visiting critters may leave more quickly if they can’t find what they came for within a few minutes.

Why Can Popcorn Be Composted?

Popcorn can be composted because all of the ingredients are biodegradable. Popcorn really is just a corn seed that has been exposed to heat and shed its hard shell. It does have the additions of butter, salt, and sometimes oil, but these. are in fairly small quantities that won’t interfere with your compost system.

Kettle corn can also be composted because it is made out of similar ingredients as popcorn, but with sugar and oil instead of butter and salt. All of these ingredients are natural, but refined, and are biodegradable, so they can be put into a compost bin and will break down with time.

Are you curious if chickens can eat popcorn? Read the article here

Can I Compost the Microwave Popcorn Bag?

You cannot compost a microwave popcorn bag. Most microwave popcorn bags are lined with chemicals, plastic, wax, or all three to make sure that no butter or oil leaks from the inside to the outside of the bag. This is helpful for the customer because no one wants to hold a greasy bag while they are eating.

Some of the chemicals that microwave popcorn companies add to the microwave popcorn bags are potentially toxic when they are ingested, although measures are taken to ensure that the chemicals do not leak into the food. Even though the bags are safe for us to eat out of, you do not want to add those chemicals to your compost bin.

Microwave popcorn bags do not break down very quickly either, so you can’t add them to your compost bin as they will stay in the mix will eventually contaminate your compost with chemicals. However, you can add paper bags that have had popcorn in them into your compost bin, as long as it is only made out of untreated paper. (Source)

If you are unsure whether or not you can add your popcorn bag to your compost pile, try to find the company that made the bag and see what it is made out of. If you can’t find the company that made the bag or what the bag is made out of, look at the bag itself. If it only seems to have a light coating on the inside, then you can maybe add it to your compost bin. It’s probably safer to just throw it away though. You wouldn’t want to risk ruining your compost.

How Long Does it Take For Popcorn To Break Down?

It does not take a very long time for popcorn to break down in a compost bin. It can take roughly 20-30 days for popped popcorn to dissolve. It takes longer for popcorn kernels to break down in a compost bin, but the amount of time that it will take is unknown.

If you have un-popped kernels that you want to add to your compost bin, but do not want it to take a long time for them to disintegrate in the compost bin, then crack the kernel. You can simply hit each kernel with a hammer, or you can use other heavy items to crack them. This will expose more of the kernel’s surface area to the compost, so it will break down faster. This also breaks the hard shell that encases the kernel, so the compost will not have to break down the shell before it can start breaking down the rest of the kernel.

You don’t have to crack half-popped popcorn kernels because the shell has already been cracked and has started to loosen up.

If you add your popcorn or popcorn kernels to a hot compost bin, they will break down faster than if you had added them to a regular compost bin. If you add un-popped popcorn kernels to a hot compost bin, don’t be surprised if, over time, they pop before they biodegrade. This may occur even if you don’t think that the temperature in the compost bin is very warm.

Kettle corn will likely take slightly longer than popped popcorn to break down because popcorn only has butter and salt, and those ingredients break down more easily than sugar. With kettle corn, the sugar often crystallizes on the kettle corn, and the hard crystallization will take slightly longer to break through than the butter and salt on regular popcorn. However, it will not take as long to break down as an un-popped popcorn kernel will take. There typically is not a lot of crystallization on kettle corn, so there will not be a lot of it to break down.

When is the Best Time to Add Popcorn to Compost?

You can add popcorn to your compost bin at any time. No specific time is better than another, although it will break down slightly faster if you add it to your compost bin during the spring or summer months because the weather is warm. It will take slightly longer for the popcorn to break down if you add it to your compost bin during the winter months as it may become frozen at some point in time, especially if snow falls in the area that you live in.

Fun Fact

If you plant popcorn kernels you can actually grow corn. However, it will not taste as good as sweet corn will because the type of corn that grows from popcorn kernels is starchy rather than sweet.

If you add water to your compost pile periodically and you have previously put popcorn kernels into it, you may see that the popcorn kernels have small roots growing from them. However, this is not likely to occur if your compost bin has a lid because corn, like all other plants, needs sunlight to grow. The compost bin lid will prevent any sunlight from reaching the popcorn kernel, so it won’t grow and you won’t have to worry about corn potentially growing in your compost bin.

If you don’t have a lid on your compost bin and you want to add popcorn kernels, but don’t want corn to grow, make sure to crack the kernels before you put them into the compost bin. This will prevent any corn from growing out of the kernel.

If you are putting burnt popcorn kernels that are un-popped into your compost bin, don’t worry about corn potentially growing. Because the kernel is burnt, it is damaged and corn will not grow from it.

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