How Does an Electric Kitchen Composter Work? A Clear and Concise Guide

Written By Jenn

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Electric kitchen composters work by using two main processes: heating and grinding.

The appliance heats the food waste to a temperature of about 160 degrees, which eliminates pathogens. This heating process continues until the food is completely desiccated.

At the same time, the composter grinds the waste into granules, creating a nutrient-rich material, that can be added as a mulch in the garden or on potted plants.

The granules can be composted further if desired, using any popular composting method such as, worm composting, or in a compost bin, compost tumbler or compost piles.

In comparison to traditional composting methods, electric composters are faster, more efficient, and less dependent on specific weather conditions or space limitations.

What is an Electronic Composter?

This innovative indoor composing appliance is designed to rapidly break down food scraps, including vegetables, meats, proteins, and most leftovers. This makes it an eco-friendly option for households keen on reducing their own food waste volume and footprint.

 Smart Waste Kitchen Composter

The image above is from a Lomi electric kitchen composter

What is an Electric Kitchen Composter?

An electric kitchen composter is a compact, energy-efficient appliance designed to process kitchen waste, such as food scraps, and turn them into compost or fertilizer.

This convenient and environmentally friendly kitchen compost appliance is typically the size of a slow cooker or air fryer, making it suitable for small spaces like apartments and urban homes.

It simplifies the decomposition process and reduces odors that might come with traditional composting methods.

The process in an electric kitchen composter consists of three main stages: heating, grinding, and cooling.

1. Firstly, the device heats the food scraps to around 160 degrees Fahrenheit, eradicating pathogens, while drying out the contents. The heating and drying process continues until the food waste is completely desiccated, facilitating the breakdown of organic matter and supporting helpful microorganisms.

The raised temperature also encourages the growth of beneficial microbes like mesophiles and thermophiles, which aid in breaking down the waste.

2. Next, the heated and dried food is ground into small granules, making it easier for microbes to continue decomposing the material. The process aerates and dehumidifies the mixture, preventing mold and rot from forming.

Electric Compost Bin Kitchen

The image above is from a Cavdle WasteCycler

3. Finally, during the cooling phase, the internal temperature decreases, making the compost safe to handle. Throughout the entire procedure, electric kitchen composters work to minimize unpleasant odors by controlling the moisture content and promoting aerobic decomposition.

There are several electric kitchen composters available on the market, each with different features and capacities, allowing users to choose the best option that fits their specific needs and lifestyle. These appliances offer a convenient and efficient way to recycle food waste, benefitting the environment and reducing the need for disposing of organic waste in landfills. There is more information about comparison of different composters in this article.

In summary, electric kitchen composters is a kitchen device for those looking to minimize their environmental footprint and use their kitchen waste in a productive and eco-friendly manner.

Key Components and Features

Odor Control

Foul odors are a common concern when dealing with composting.

Electric kitchen composters deal with odor control by employing activated carbon filters.

These carbon filters help eliminate unpleasant smells by trapping and neutralizing the odors produced during the decomposition process.

Maintaining a proper temperature within the composter also plays a role in minimizing odor production.

Size and Design

Vitamix FC-50-SP Food Cycler

The image above is from a Vitamix FC-50-SP Food Cycler

The size and design of electric kitchen composters vary, however the models are compact and suitable for countertop use.

A smaller footprint allows them to be an attractive and practical solution for urban dwellers and households with limited outdoor space.

The design of these countertop electric composters is typically modern and stylish, blending seamlessly with contemporary kitchen aesthetics.

Easy to Use

Ease of use is an essential feature of electric composters. These appliances come with intuitive controls and automated processes that simplify the fermentation process.

how to use buttons on an electric kitchen composter

The image is above is from a NIVIOP Smart Electric Waste Composter

The home owner needs to add kitchen scraps and switch on the electric composter. The composter performs the necessary steps, such as drying, mixing, and cooling, thus transforming the food waste into nutrient-rich compost without the need for manual intervention.

The Process of Composting

Food Scraps Collection

Electric kitchen composters are designed to convert food scraps into nutrient rich compost, although in reality it more of a pre-compost like material that will benefit from being composted further.

Collecting food scraps, such as fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells, is the first step in the process of composting. How easy is this to do, just in the course of normal food preparation.

fruit and vegetable peelings in glass bowl on kitchen counter
Save your scraps or leftovers!

Grinding and Drying

Once the food scraps are collected, they are subjected to grinding and drying.

The electric composter’s grinding mechanism breaks down the waste into smaller particles, increasing the surface area for microorganisms to work.

Concurrently, the device heats the scraps to a temperature of about 160 degrees, eliminating pathogens.

This heating process also drives out excess moisture, transforming the food waste into a dry, desiccated material.


The final stage in the process is decomposition, facilitated by the presence of microorganisms.

Electric composters create an optimal environment for aerobic decomposition by providing adequate oxygen levels through aeration and mixing.

Air is circulated throughout the unit, and the food waste is continually turned to ensure that every part receives enough oxygen for efficient decomposition.

The mixing process also helps maintain a balanced moisture level, preventing the formation of unpleasant odors.

In the decomposing environment, microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi break down the organic matter. This organic matter can be added to garden soil, used as a mulch around potted plants or used to compost further.

Types of Waste Electric Composter Can Handle

An electric kitchen composter is designed to help manage and break down various types of food waste.

Electric Composter for Kitchen

The image above is from an iDoo electric kitchen composter

One commonly processed item by electric composters is kitchen waste, which comprises leftover vegetable scraps, fruit peels, and other organic materials. These composters can handle a wide variety of food waste, ensuring that your kitchen remains eco-friendly.

Bioplastics can also be broken down by some electric composters, but it’s essential to make sure the particular composter is designed to handle such materials. Bioplastics are a more sustainable alternative to traditional plastics and are often found in disposable tableware and food packaging.

When it comes to meat, bones, and fish, electric composters can handle these waste types effectively. These materials often take longer to break down than other forms of food waste, but electric composters use heat and pulverization to speed up the process.

Dairy and egg-related waste can also be handled by electric composters, as they are capable of breaking down these materials without producing unpleasant odors. Using electric composters for dairy and egg waste ensures that your kitchen remains free from unwanted smells.

For those who love their hot cups of coffee, coffee grounds can also be processed within an electric composter. They are an excellent addition to the regular compost pile as they help enrich the resulting fertilizer and contribute to a thriving garden.

coffee grounds for the composter

In summary, an electric composter is a versatile food recycler that can handle various types of waste, including kitchen waste, bioplastics, bones, meat, dairy, eggs, fish, and coffee grounds.

Benefits of Using an Electric Kitchen Composter

Electric kitchen composters have become increasingly popular as a convenient and efficient way to transform food waste into valuable resources for both the environment and the garden.

There are two main aspects to consider when discussing the benefits of using an electric kitchen composter: its impact on the environment and its contributions to the garden.

For The Environment

One of the key environmental benefits of an electric kitchen composter is the reduction of food waste.

By converting kitchen scraps into compost, these devices significantly reduce food waste and decrease the volume of food waste being sent to landfills.

This decrease in waste helps reduce emissions, such as methane, which contribute to climate change.

Electric composters can minimize the odors associated with traditional composting methods, making them an appealing option for small spaces and urban environments.

For the Garden

Electric kitchen composters produce a not quite finished compost but rather a partially decomposed material known as “compost-like material” or “pre-compost.” This material is in an intermediate stage of decomposition and requires further processing to become fully mature compost.

pre compost used as mulch around a plant

The image above is from an iDOO Electric Kitchen Composter

Compost like material typically has the following characteristics:

  1. Texture: It is usually not as fine or crumbly as finished compost. Instead, it may have some recognizable bits of organic matter.

  2. Color: It may still contain some visible food scraps and have a darker color compared to the original kitchen waste, but it’s not as dark as fully mature compost.

  3. Odor: While it has undergone decomposition and is less odorous than fresh kitchen waste, it may still have some residual smell, though typically much less than unprocessed food scraps.

  4. Nutrient Content: It contains a higher concentration of nutrients than the original waste but is not as nutrient-rich as mature compost.

The mulch-like texture of the organic material generated by an automatic indoor composter can serve as an excellent source of organic matter for improving soil fertility.

Applying this organic waste as a mulch layer can help maintain moisture levels and regulate soil temperatures, making it easier for plants to access the resources they need to grow.

This compost-like material can be further processed if desired by allowing it to mature in an outdoor compost bin, traditional compost pile, worm bin or Bokashi system.

During this maturation period, beneficial microbes continue to break down the remaining organic matter, and the material gradually transforms into fully mature compost.

Compared to Traditional Composting

Electric kitchen composters offer a convenient and efficient alternative to traditional composting methods.

electric kitchen composter compared to a traditional compost tumbler

The image above is from a NIVIOP Electric Kitchen Composter

Traditional composting usually involves creating a compost pile or using a backyard composter, such as a compost tumbler or worm farm/bin. These methods often take weeks or months to break down organic material and require regular maintenance, such as turning the compost or adding moisture.

In contrast, electric kitchen composters generally work by processing food scraps through stages of heating, grinding, and cooling.

This process accelerates the decomposition. The end product is a nutrient-rich, desiccated material ideal for use as a soil amendment or fertilizer for plants.

One significant advantage of using an electric kitchen composter is the reduction in food waste ending up in landfills.

Over 70 billion pounds of food waste enter landfills every year, contributing significantly to the production of greenhouse gases.

By using green waste and using an electric kitchen composter, individuals can make a positive impact on the environment, diverting food waste from landfills and enhancing their garden’s soil quality simultaneously.

The electric kitchen composter makes composting more accessible and practical for individuals without yards or those who want a hassle-free and low-maintenance method of reducing food waste.

Although electric composters may not provide the same bacterial diversity and neutral pH found in a traditional compost pile or piles, the end product remains a highly effective fertilizer and topsoil, capable of helping plants retain moisture and suppress diseases and pests.

Operating and Maintenance Guide

To ensure its proper functioning of the electric kitchen composter regular maintenance and cleaning is essential.

Cleaning an electric composter is fairly simple. Most models feature a dishwasher-safe, removable compost bin, making it easy to clean after each composting cycle.

Once the compost is removed, simply place the bin in the dishwasher or wash it by hand with warm soap and water. Be sure to also clean the outer surfaces of the appliance with a damp cloth to maintain its appearance.

The cooling phase is a crucial part of the composting process. During this phase, the temperature of the composter decreases, allowing beneficial microbes to thrive and break down the organic matter.

The appliance will typically have an indicator to show when the cooling phase is complete and the compost is ready for removal.

To maintain an optimal composting environment, it is essential to ensure a balance of microbes. Most electric composters include a microbial starter to kickstart the process, but you can also add a small amount of garden soil or finished compost to introduce beneficial microorganisms.

Many electric composters come equipped with carbon filters to minimize odors.

Regularly inspect and replace these filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This will help in maintaining a fresh and odorless composting process.

Eco 5 FoodCycler by Vitamix, quiet, odorless food waste reducer

The image above is from an Eco 5 FoodCycler by Vitamix

Challenges and Solutions

Electric kitchen composters have gained popularity as an efficient and environmentally-friendly method for processing kitchen waste. However, there are certain challenges that users may face. In this section, we will discuss these challenges and their potential solutions.

Challenge 1: Price and Expensiveness One of the most common concerns about electric composters is their price. These appliances can be expensive, especially compared to traditional composting methods.

Solution: Comparison shopping can help you find the best deal. Additionally, consider the long-term benefits of investing in an electric composter, such as reduced waste, ease of use, and odorless composting.

Challenge 2: Flies and Pests As with any composting method, electric composters can attract flies and other pests.

Solution: To prevent pest issues, ensure that the composter is properly sealed during operation. Regularly empty and clean the composter to prevent build up of decomposing food that may attract pests.

Challenge 3: Pathogens One of the primary advantages of electric composters is their ability to heat the waste material, eliminating pathogens. However, if not adequately heated, these unwanted elements may persist in the composting system.

Solution: Choose an electric composter with a high-quality heating system and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper heating. This will help to achieve a sterile and safe indoor composting costs.

Challenge 4: Rodents In some cases, electric composters can attract rodents, especially if they’re not well-sealed or not emptied regularly.

Solution: Keep the composter in a secure location, away from places where rodents can easily access it. Similarly as with flies, ensure that the composter is properly sealed and maintain a regular emptying and cleaning schedule.

Challenge 5: Smelly Compost and Odor Control Traditional composting methods often produce a strong smell, which can be a deterrent for some users. Electric composters, in contrast, are designed to be odorless.

Solution: Invest in a high-quality electric composter to ensure that the composting process is as odorless as possible. Proper aeration, heating, and pulverization can contribute to reducing odors.

how does an electric kitchen composter work

Frequently Asked Questions

What materials can be used in an electric kitchen composter?

An electric kitchen composter can process various types of food waste including fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, and small amounts of meat and dairy products. However, some materials such as large bones, plastic, metal, and glass should not be placed in the composter.

How long does it take for an electric composter to produce compost?

The time required for an electric composter to produce compost varies depending on the model and the type of waste being processed.

Most electric composters finish processing within 24 hours, which is significantly faster than traditional composting methods that can take months.

What is the energy consumption of an electric kitchen composter?

The energy consumption of an an electric compost bin or kitchen composter varies depending on the model and the frequency of use. Generally, electric composters consume a small amount of energy to maintain constant heat and aeration, which helps break down the food waste quickly.

Airthereal Revive Electric Kitchen Composter energy consumption estimate

The image above is from an Airthereal composter. Different electric composters will have different energy consumption levels.

While electric composters do use electricity, they can still be an eco-friendly alternative to traditional composting methods that require larger outdoor spaces and generate more greenhouse gases.

Are electric kitchen composters efficient and eco-friendly?

Electric kitchen composters reduce food waste and transforming it for use in gardening. They can help decrease the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, which reduces methane emissions and conserves landfill space.

While they do require electricity to operate, the overall environmental impact can still be positive if the compost produced is used effectively.

In summary, electric kitchen composters can be both efficient and eco-friendly when used properly and consistently.

vector - composting worm

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