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Measuring Moisture in Your Compost Pile

Acheiving the correct moisture content is an important factor in keeping a compost pile working efficiently.

A moisture content of between 50-60% is desirable in an active compost pile but how many of us know how to measure moisture? Sure, there are highly technical and complicated ways to calculate moisture content but we are not interested in anything so technical and complicated.

Here is a simple, time-tested way to judge the moisture content in your compost. First, take a handful of compost from the center of your pile and squeeze it in your hand:

  • If you can squeeze water out of it, the compost is too wet
  • If the compost does not release water but crumbles apart when released, it's too dry
  • If the compost does not release water but stays compacted, it's just right

For those who feel the need for a slightly more technical method:

  1. Weigh a sample of your compost
  2. Dry the compost throroughly (you can use a conventional oven on low heat for a few hours)
  3. Weigh the dried compost
  4. Subtract the dry weight from the wet weight
  5. Divide by the wet weight and multiply by 100. Voila! A more accurate reading of moisture content

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