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Composting polyurethane sawdust?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by dougstove, Jul 28, 2012.

  1. dougstove

    dougstove Member

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    Hi;
    I have 3 garbage bags of polyurethane sawdust (from a floor refinishing; it was old alkyl polyurethane).
    I have a compost heap that could use increased carbon.
    Match made in heaven? Or bad idea?
    I found one reference on line that polyurethane does not biodegrade in compost, but that it does not harm plant germination either.
    cheers, Doug

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  2. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    If you plan on using that compost for organic food gardening, I would say NO. I would be concerned that the heat process, along with other factors, could possibly lead those polyurethane components to contaminate your compost. Just because Dr. Joe Schmuckatelli from YadaYada University said in an "independent " study he saw no ill effects of it, I would use your better judgement and keep it away from your compost. Not to mention, if that is an old school urethane, chances are it probably has lead in it. Back in the day, EVERYTHING had lead in it. Check it out on a Google search to verify what all is in it.
    Eatonpcat and Lewiston like this.
  3. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    +1 with Scotty. I was looking at the several cans that I have, and they have the California warnings on them. I would not put it in a compost pile. The older finishes may be worse than what is out now.
  4. Lewiston

    Lewiston Member

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    +2. The way I look at it is this: any wood/material that I won't burn in our outdoor fire ring due to noxious fumes I won't add to our compost pile.
  5. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    +3 Don't do it, think about it polyurethane, is not biodegradable.
  6. dougstove

    dougstove Member

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    Good thinking. I was getting greedy looking at all that powdered cellulose.
  7. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    There's gotta be another easy source of 'clean' cellulose around. Shred some leaves in the fall, ask for sawdust at a furniture shop, pallete factory, local municipality, landscapers...
  8. Lewiston

    Lewiston Member

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    If furniture shop, make sure they use different collection bins for sheet materials (plywood, mdf, mdo, etc) or you could end up with the same problem.
    ScotO and PapaDave like this.
  9. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Almost Defiant, there is in fact a fungus that can exist entirely on polyurethane. People might want to do a bit of Google work.
  10. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Look up Paul Stamets work/ books on fungi that will eat anything. Http:/www.fungi.com
  11. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    A team from Yale University has discovered a fungus deep in the South American rainforest that can live entirely on plastic - offering hope for new methods of waste disposal.

    Thanks Smokey, do you think it will be available in Canada?
  12. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    That's to say- it could be done,but not in a standard compost pile
    Defiant likes this.
  13. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    There are several fungi that can compost it the one being pointed out is one that can live solely by eating it and can do so either with or without oxygen being present.

    The polyurethane eating can actually be done by several fungi, but it takes longer and has other requirements. In a regular compost pile likely not, but composting can be managed. A bit of research is needed on the part of the composter. I tend to stay away from other than natural plant materials and certain manures. If you can get the piles hot enough you can safely do human waste.
  14. dougstove

    dougstove Member

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    I did some more googling and before 1978 lead was indeed used as a drying agent in polyurethane finishes.
    Since my old floor might be older than that, composting is a bad idea.

    I do indeed have lots of sources of cellulose, but the finely ground powder tempted me to help get things hot with the huge surface area. But off to the garbage it goes, where the pros can handle it.

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