5 Best Compost Tumblers

A compost tumbler is a great investment if you’re looking for an easier way to compost. Mixing and turning your compost can be labor intensive but it is essential to ensure microbes break down your waste.

In their simplest form, compost tumblers are slightly elevated, round bins which are set on gears and turned using a simple hand crank. 

Simply load your composter, and every couple of weeks, give it a few good turns using the crank.

Here are our 5 favorite compost tumblers to make composting easier.

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FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter

FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter

This 8-sided, dual chamber tumbling composter makes composting dual batches easier than ever. FCMP Outdoor IM400’s ergonomic handholds make mixing your compost easy and efficient. Long gone are the days of digging and mixing your compost pile by hand. Just close the door and turn it 5-6 times every 2-3 days. In hot and sunny weather conditions and with the proper balance of materials compost can finish in as little as 2 weeks.

Pros

  • Excellent aeration, easy to use, will not degrade under direct sunlight.
  • Two separate chambers allow for one side to finish while the second is available.
  • Composts quickly in warmer climates with direct sunlight.
  • The barrels fins make it easy to turn.
  • The plastic is all BPA-free, so chemicals won’t leach into your compost.

Cons

  • Assembly is required and the instructions are challenging so be sure to take your time while installing it.
  • There are a lot of seams for water to get into the mixture.
  • Due to the design features unloading can be difficult.

Technical specifications

Envirocycle Composting Tumbler Bin

This little tumbler is perfect for anyone who wants to compost in a tiny space. It can easily fit beside your home or in your garden, whether you live in the suburbs or the city.

The Envirocycle Composting Tumbler Bin can easily sit on a balcony, deck, patio, or porch and provide a pleasant and clean experience. Additionally, it adds beauty wherever you choose to use it because of its elegant design.

Pros

  • There is very little assembly required.
  • The company has outstanding customer service.
  • Envirocycle composters are BPA and toxin free. The plastic in direct contact with compost and compost tea are from a plastic called HDPE, which is BPA-free and also undergoes a 11-stage filtration process to remove any harmful impurities.
  • It is easy to release your compost from the tumbler.
  • It has an added feature that compiles compost tea at the bottom of the tumbler’s base.

 Cons

  • Due to its size, there is only one chamber that holds a modest 17 gallons.
  • Since the compost tumbler sits on the ground, you have to bend down to roll it and it gets heavy quickly.

Technical specifications

Lifetime 60058 Compost Tumbler

Lifetime 60058 Compost Tumbler

This 80-gallon Lifetime compost tumbler is the perfect addition to your backyard. The ingenious tumbler design easily turns on its axis for balanced rotation, and the internal aeration bar mixes compost and provides sufficient air flow.

Pros

  • It has an extra-large removable lid and a spring-loaded pin that locks rotation during filings.
  • It’s double-walled panels absorb and retain heat to help compost mature quickly.
  • This is BPA-free and made from HDPE which ensures no toxins leak into your compost.
  • It is easy to remove the compost for dumping- the side bar allows you to easily roll the compost bin.
  • The plastic is very durable and can withstand the elements. 

Cons

  • Complete assembly is required, which can be tedious.
  • It leaks and lets a lot of water in during heavy downpours.

Technical specifications

Jora Composter Tumbler

Jora Composter Tumbler

Compost your kitchen waste hygienically and quickly with Jora’s insulated composter tumblers dual compartments. The Jora compost tumbler is made from galvanized steel to ensure it is more durable and long lasting. It is also designed for easy use and rotation.

Pros

  • Since it has dual compartments you can add new compost while waiting on other compost to mature.
  • It has minimal leakage and is rodent free.
  • The handle makes it manageable to turn when both compartments are completely full.
  • It is durable and can withstand the cold and heat throughout the years.
  • It gets to an extremely high temperature which ensures seeds and pathogens are killed.
  • It produces a large capacity of compost and doesn’t take up a lot of space, so it’s ideal for smaller spaces.

 Cons

  • It is heavy so it is difficult to relocate after it is set up.
  • It requires assembly, which can be tedious.

Technical specifications

EJWOX Composting Tumbler

EJWOX Composting Tumbler

The Ejwox dual chamber composting tumbler allows for continuous composting. You can fill up one side while the other side’s compost matures.

Once one side is matured, you can empty it and begin refilling it while waiting on the other side to mature. This compost tumbler is well suited for your garden or for people who wish to mix their organic waste without using a compost bin.

Pros

  • The tumbler has a rodent + pest proof design to keep out any unwanted critters.
  • The black chamber absorbs solar heat well which helps to ensure the compost gets heated up to the necessary temperature.
  • Even though it is rather heavy when full the mechanical mechanisms in place make it easy to empty.
  • The tumbler has an easy to turn barrel handle.
  • Due to its compact size it can easily fit in an urban backyard and still produce a large amount of compost.
  • It is durable in the elements—extreme heat and/or cold. 

Cons

  • Assembly is required and can be rather difficult.
  • Once it is full it becomes top heavy.

Technical specifications

Compost Tumbler FAQs

Compost Tumbler

Now that we’ve shown you our favorites for composting tumblers, it’s time for us to answer those burning questions that you might have about making amazing compost in a tumbler.

So, here are our answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about using a compost tumbler for your backyard composting needs.

How long does it take to compost in a tumbler?

One of the benefits of using a compost tumbler is the decreased time it can take to create useable compost. 

Composting in a traditional pile usually takes a number of months, along with all of that physical work, to result in a usable product.

As a matter of fact, most people start their compost piles in the fall, and hope for a good batch of compost to be ready in the spring. 

Depending on your climate, this could be 6 or 9 months of waiting.

Compost tumblers on the other hand, when used properly, can create useable compost in less than half the time of a traditional compost pile. 

The key here is “used properly”. Compost tumblers aren’t a “set it, and forget it” option, and they do take a bit of effort to be efficient.

  • A good first fill is essential. If you don’t have a bunch of material to put in your compost tumbler, it won’t work well. They key to tumblers is keeping a good fill of material that will not only hold on to heat and moisture, but will also mix easily every couple of weeks. If you are considering a compost tumbler, make sure that you have a good collection of both brown and green material to get started with.
  • Use a compost starter. You’ve got a couple of options here, you can start your compost with native soil or even pre-composted manure or you can buy a compost starter. Compost starters are packages of microbes specifically grown for composting. These handy packets come with specific instructions on how to use them in your composter.
  • Compost tumblers work best one batch at a time. Fill your composter once, and let it do its work. Constantly adding new material to your compost tumbler will overwhelm it and slow down the process. Single batch composting is the best option with a tumbler, which is why it’s important to have a good stash of materials, before you get started.

How do you compost in a compost tumbler?

We’ve already given you some good basic tips about how to compost in a tumbler, but here is some additional insight on how to be the most successful with your compost tumbler.

Have good material on hand before you start

Yes, this means making a stash of materials like kitchen scraps, dried leaves and lawn clippings. 

But this also means having the right mix of these materials as well. 

Dry materials (brown material) like leaves, sawdust, straw and shredded paper are important for providing plenty of carbon for your microbes. 

Carbon is the energy source that microbes use to breakdown your waste. 

Moist materials (green material) like kitchen scraps and wet lawn clippings are the food source for your microbes, providing essential nutrients to your compost like nitrogen and phosphorus. 

For your compost tumbler to work well, make sure that your mix of brown and green is at a 3 to 1 ratio.

Use a starter

Adding a starter to your tumbler is the best way to get things cooking, so to speak. 

Starters can be either natural soils, manure or commercially produced compost that provide a community of microbes. 

If you aren’t keen on this option, you can also buy commercially produced compost microbe kits. 

These starters have a community of microbes that you add to your materials, without the mess of soil or manure, to kick-start the decomposition process.

Turn frequently

Keeping your compost well mixed is the key to creating good compost. Your microbes need plenty of air to breathe, in order to decompose all of that lawn and kitchen waste. 

Turning your compost once every couple of weeks is the best way to keep your compost from settling to hard and suffocating your microbes.

Use an accelerator

Some people find that their compost production slows down, and this can happen for a variety of reasons. 

If you’ve turned your compost, kept it moist, and balanced your brown and green materials appropriately, but production is slow, you may want to consider using an accelerator. 

These packages of microbes are different from starters, as they are different organisms that are more efficient at breaking down organic materials.

Should I add water to my compost tumbler?

composter with tea collector

Moisture is an essential element to effective composting. Water is the basic building block of life. 

Your compost tumbler is a fully contained unit, and should be capable of maintaining good moisture, especially when temperatures are moderate. 

However, many people that use compost tumblers find that the heat of summer tends to dry out their compost. 

It is important that your compost maintains a moisture level that is similar to a well wrung, but damp sponge.

This is the best level of moisture for the microbes that are working hard at decomposing your waste. 

If you find that your compost tumbler is drying out, use a watering can or misting setting on your garden hose nozzle to add a bit of moisture to your compost.

You will want to add a bit of water, and then turn your compost to mix the water evenly through your bin. 

This may need to be done a couple of times to ensure an even distribution of moisture through your tumbler.

Be careful to not add too much water. Just like being dry, microbes don’t like to be too wet. Too much moisture will, in essence, drown your microbes, and slow down the process.

Can I put worms in my compost tumbler?

Worms In Compost

This is an interesting question, and one that comes with mixed answers. 

Some people find that worms work great in their compost tumblers, while others don’t think that worms are a great addition.

Traditional compost bins are generally full of worms, especially if you started your bin with natural soil or manure. 

In order to get worms in your compost tumbler, you are probably going to need to purchase a stash of worms.

Worms can be purchased online, or from your local garden supply store. The best worms for composting, hands down, are Red Wigglers. 

These hungry critters make quick work of your compost pile. However, in a tumbler they can be hit or miss.

Tumblers tend to get pretty warm, especially in the summertime. Worms just don’t like to be hot. 

In traditional compost bins, if worms get too hot, they can leave. In your tumbler, they are stuck, and will eventually end up “cooking to death”, if they get too hot. 

This is a bummer, especially if you spent some cash to fill your tumbler with worms.

However, if your tumbler is shaded, or you can keep it relatively protected from direct sunlight and intense heat, worms can be a great addition to your tumbler. 

They key to having happy, healthy worms, comes down to location. Make sure you place your tumbler in the right spot in your yard.

Can compost tumblers work in winter?

Compost Tumbler By Winter

Like with worms, compost tumblers have mixed reviews when it comes to using them during the winter. We know that traditional compost bins work great in the winter.

Especially when covered and turned every couple of weeks. 

Traditional bins insulate themselves, and create a warm pocket, in the center of the bin that keeps your microbes warm and happy through the winter.

Compost tumblers don’t have the same natural insulating properties, and can be challenging to use in the winter. 

Here are some hints to making a compost tumbler effective in the winter.

  • Buy the right size for your needs. If you are a one or two person household, and have a tiny yard, don’t buy a giant tumbler. In order for your tumbler to work in the winter, it needs to have a limited amount of free space. If you’ve purchased too large of a tumbler, and can’t keep it full, it will be difficult to keep your microbes warm.
  • Buy an insulated tumbler. Yes, this will probably cost you a bit more, but if you are planning on composting through the winter, an insulated tumbler is a good investment. These dual walled, plastic tumblers are a good answer for winter composting, and will also provide some additional insulation from heat during the summer too.
  • Location, Location, Location. Don’t place your tumbler in the windiest, most exposed part of your yard. To improve your success with winter composting in a tumbler, make sure that you set your machine in a spot that is protected from wind, snow and gets at least a bit of sunshine during the day. This will keep the temperature inside your compost tumbler higher, and more suitable for your working microbes.

Keep tumbling. Don’t forget to turn your compost every few weeks. This will redistribute heat through your tumbler, keeping your microbes happy.

Final Thoughts

Compost tumblers are a great way to produce amazing compost, without worrying about hurting your back, or the mess of a traditional compost bin.

When used correctly, compost tumblers are an easy way to make single batches of compost for your lawn and gardens.

In this review we’ve given your our suggestions for great tumblers, and answered some of the most frequently asked questions about compost tumblers.