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Soil and Composting: hair clippings with smelly salon gunk - safe for composting?

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RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

November 4, 2010
10:00 PM

Post #8195311

I got a bag of hair clippings the last time I had my hair cut, and she said I could always have more ... but they STINK with perfumy gunk, i.e. "salon products". I put a tied-off bag of hair clippings in my trunk, and the whole car stank by the time I got home.

I don't know what-all is in there, but I have doubts about adding it to my compost heap. Am I too fussy? Maybe anything organic will rot, and hair salon chemicals are (probably, mostly) organic.

But maybe it will drive away or even poison worms and insects in high concentrations. It doesn't seem to kill the customers and hairdressers, but they don't have to eat it and live in it 24/7. I was sure eager to get it out of my car!

Mine is a tiny compost pile, 2-3 feet square and just over 2 feet high. Never hot, it does have insects and a few worms. Things are breaking down slowly after 2-3 months, though the woody shreds are slow to dissolve.

I might find a way to contain it, like old spun-fabric filter cloth, and let it be rained on for a season. Then I could add more "smelly hair" to that pile and mix them after they have leached clean. I assume that diluting it into runoff rainwater is safe enoguh, since thousands of times as much already goes into landfill. (We have some rain most days in fall and winter.)

I would look for an old-school "barber" instead of a "hair stylist", but are there barbers any more?

Thanks for any opinions and ideas.

I might scatter just a little over beds I want to keep squirrels and cats out of, like after planting bulbs

Corey
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

November 4, 2010
11:49 PM

Post #8195351

When I find myself with a bunch of something I'm not completely sure about, I either toss it into my long-term slow composting pile (which I don't use on edibles), or I bury it someplace out of the way (next to an ornamental grass clump or just outside a tree's drip line). My hot compost pile never gets anything I'm uncertain of, because its product ends up on my veggies and my berry bushes.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

November 5, 2010
11:52 AM

Post #8196087

"Bury it" might be smart, but any of my hard clay that I have broken up promptly became a bed.

Maybe I will mix it into the pile of excavated clay that is going to take years to amend. Assume that "years" is long enough for anything to degrade.

But if a month or two of rain will clean it up, and I can add it to my slow compost heap, it could sure use the N in that there hair!

The point is well taken about edibles. If "salon products" contain heavy metals or slowly-degrading organic toxins, I can't put it into any of my beds, because moving Bok Choy around from year to year means that some will get grown everywhere, eventually.

Corey
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

November 5, 2010
1:05 PM

Post #8196192

Cory...I did that twice. The first time and the last time. It took literally forever to break down. I had it popping up here and there for at least three years. Any toxins are minimal and will in time leach away. The first year I expected to see it converted in our nine months of non-freezing weather. The birds loved it. We found that hair in nests and dens used as bedding. Chip and Dale liked it too.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

November 5, 2010
2:53 PM

Post #8196364

>> Chip and Dale liked it too.

Whoops! There goes that plan. From deterrent to attractant in one post.

I'll think about its vlaue as a slow-to-decompose fibrous amendment imprivng drainage ... but if I'm not going to get N out of it, I will probably give up on it.

>> Any toxins are minimal and will in time leach away.

I was hoping that, since it all must be FDA-approved to slather on people's heads ... but I wasn't sure. They approved DDT for decades! And you can still buy "Zima", which should be against the Geneva Convention.

Corey
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

November 6, 2010
8:02 PM

Post #8198484

I put hair animal and human in Suet bird feeders and hang them up. That way it is avaliable for critters as needed but not in my garden, although the smell may keep them away.
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

November 7, 2010
7:48 AM

Post #8199086

I got a bag of hair one time to test the "keeps deer away" reports that keep popping up from time to time. The kids and I did a good job of putting tufts of it all over the garden and on shrubs around the edges. It worked for two or three days. You could likely do the same amount of good letting your sweaty shirt hanging on a corner post.

It was following this experiment that we saw how much the birds used it for nesting material. We found it in all kinds of bird cavities...man made and natural. There was some in the squirrel box as well. Some ended up in mouse and Chip and Dale's nests. All was not wasted. Hair just did not give long term results.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

November 7, 2010
12:42 PM

Post #8199424

Thank you, that saves me work and stink picking through the bag.

Corey

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