lenheard
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Water quality for compost

Can somebody please help me with understanding the quality of water to be used to add to the compost. My water has a very small amount of chlorine... What is the maximum residue level before if becomes harmful to the bacteria in the compost process?
Thank you

Len Heard

tomc
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Clorine out gasses. It becomes problematic to fix what isn't there.
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rainbowgardener
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Rainwater is always good, but Mg is right, the chlorine evaporates out of the water quickly.
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toxcrusadr
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Think of it this way. If it's not harmful to the collection of cells that is your body, it's not likely to be harmful to the cells in the compost.


As a chemist I've seen a dramatic demonstration of how fast chlorine reacts. Take a chlorine meter like they use for swimming pools, and stick the probe in a glass of water. It will read about 3 ppm for drinking water. Now stick your finger in. The chlorine reacts with oils and dirt on your skin almost instantaneously. The meter drops to near zero.

Now throw a gallon of the same water on a 300 lb pile of organic matter. What do you suppose will happen? :)
Tox

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toxcrusadr wrote:Think of it this way. If it's not harmful to the collection of cells that is your body, it's not likely to be harmful to the cells in the compost.


As a chemist I've seen a dramatic demonstration of how fast chlorine reacts. Take a chlorine meter like they use for swimming pools, and stick the probe in a glass of water. It will read about 3 ppm for drinking water. Now stick your finger in. The chlorine reacts with oils and dirt on your skin almost instantaneously. The meter drops to near zero.

Now throw a gallon of the same water on a 300 lb pile of organic matter. What do you suppose will happen? :)
So are we saying if we reduce all herbicides down to 3 ppm "If it's not harmful to the collection of cells that is your body, it's not likely to be harmful to the cells in the compost."
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/DDF%20-%20Helpful%20Gardener%20Misc/Chlorine.jpg[/img]

Eric

toxcrusadr
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No such statement was implied! The toxic effects of herbicides and pesticides are completely different from those of water chlorinating compounds. I presume there is a safe level for those, but it is not necessarily anywhere near 3 ppm.
Tox

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In a round about way, I'm saying, chlorine-a algaecide is a herbicide.

Eric

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applestar
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I agree leaving Tap water out will help to dissipate the chlorine and collecting rainwater is even better.

I have a container sitting against the shed that will collect rainwater dripping from the roof in a passive kind of way and also hold hose/tap water to dip out of for the nearby compost pile. To relieve any mosquito concerns, I put 1/2 dozen -a dozen feeder goldfish in there. I've left them that way for the whole season with no mosquito issues whatsoever. The goldfish grow up happily eating what falls in or grows because I'm not feeding them. Only problem I ever had was finding a drowned mouse in it, so now, I cover the top with a hardware cloth and leave a stick in it for any idiot mouse to climb out.

tomc
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I'm not going to defend clorinated water, or defame it. I want something acheivable for the new gardener.

I've been reading about gardening for all of my adult life and have watched the good intentions of gardeners push the horizon past what is do-able by gardeners. New ones in particular.

Do we want as few chemical additives (as possible) in our food chain? I beleive we do.

Is this a battle a suburban gardener can win? To use only rain water or untreated well water?

Not 100% of the time even with all the infrastructure in place.
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rainbowgardener
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I had a bucket of water sitting out at one point last year for the chlorine to evaporate out. I left it over night and some stupid possum had drowned itself head down in the bucket. My little pond, where the water was going to go, was right next to it, if the possum wanted a drink. It was pretty nasty, but on the Darwin award principle, probably better for the possum species not to have that one around!

(This was last year, in the midst of our big drought, so no rain water to be had.)
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rainbowgardener
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Incidentally in a competing garden forum which I'm not allowed to link to, I found the following assertions (none with sources/ evidence attached): (the discussion was about tap water and compost tea not compost pile, but it seemed very relevant)

*Some of my local organic gurus attended that same training session with Dr Ingham and have tested San Antonio's water. What they found was that the chlorine seems to kill about 50% of the microbes[in compost tea]. Still, that leaves 50% that you would not have gotten had you not made the tea.

*Today most places are using a more stable product, Sodium hypochlorite, in place of the old, and much more dangerous liquid Chlorine. Sodium hypochlorite does not gas off from water in 24 hours like Chlorine did.

* Municipal water is chlorinated to a concentration of 2 to 10 ppm, or 2 to 10 mg per liter. Chlorine is a reactive agent, not a catalytic one. It reacts with dead plant cells just as much as it reacts with live microbes. Which is to say that the chlorine is used up by the organic matter in the water. If you dump 100 grams of biologically active organic matter into 1 liter of water, the ratio of chlorine to organic matter is 10,000 to 50,000 to 1 by weight. It would seem to me that what little chlorine is in the water is swamped by the amount of organic matter.


So in summary... we don't really know! Chlorine is in the water because it is an effective and potent bacteria-cide/ fungicide. It may or may not gas off if you let it sit for 24 hrs. It may or may not be used up by the organic matter in the pile.

I can say that in drought years, I have watered my compost pile with water direct from the hose (chlorinated) and still gotten good compost.
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applestar
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Bwahahaha ! :lol: :twisted: Re: 'possum story!

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soil
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toxcrusadr is right, chlorine reacts crazy fast with just about anything. itl get locked up or burnt out before it even has any effects on the compost. at least in the amounts that are in your water.
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toxcrusadr
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"If you dump 100 grams of biologically active organic matter into 1 liter of water, the ratio of chlorine to organic matter is 10,000 to 50,000 to 1 by weight. It would seem to me that what little chlorine is in the water is swamped by the amount of organic matter."

This is what I was getting at.
Tox

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