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[greenyes] backyard compost catching fire?
Sharon Gates told about a resident whose compost pile in a plastic bin apparently catching fire, based on the evidence. She asked:

"Anybody have experience with a small pile like this catching fire?  I
would have thought it impossible, and yet, there it is.  Spontaneous
compost combustion?"

I don't have experience with it, but large-scale compost piles have been known to catch fire and burn and smolder for a long time. No one I know believes in spontaneous combustion, but here is some information that may be a plausible explanation. When active composting is going on in anaerobic conditions, alcohols are some of the metabolic by-products. The flash point for burning of alcohol is much lower than the woody and other materials in the pile. Anything producing a spark would be more likely to catch fire with this lower temperature flash point produced by the alcohols.

A strange situation, indeed, with a melted plastic bin!

Mary Appelhof
Mary Appelhof, Author of "Worms Eat My Garbage"
Flowerfield Enterprises/Flower Press,10332 Shaver Road,Kalamazoo, MI 49024 USA
PLEASE NOTE NEW AREA CODE: PH:269-327-0108  FAX 269-327-7009
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