It’s our fourth week at the Panya project in northern Thailand. We are now fairly well merged with the community here.
After some great time of exploration and adapting for the first two weeks, we have now started our first own project
building a compost shower.
Compost piles produce heat regardless in which climate they are made, through the process of decomposition executed by micro-organisms ,worms and fungi. This heat can be extracted for several uses, one of which is the compost shower.
Also bio gas can be extracted through the process of decomposition. The idea is originated by  Jean Pain.
One of his biggest project was a 40 ton compost pile solely made from wood chippings and plenty of water, which was capable to produce hot water and gas for about 18 month. In that time he could heat his entire house with a water run heating system,
and have hot water for showering,and washing etc. and also use the preheated water for cooking.
He extracted gas and used it for cooking, as fuel for his car and even for the machines to chip wood for his compost piles.
There are many other uses from composting apart from the once just mentioned and the most obvious one to get amazingly fertile soil full of nutrients that can be given back to the plants which will then grow better, faster, bigger, healthier, tastier!

Now we build one for the Panya project. Sure northern Thailand isn’t cold and hot showers aren’t really needed but why not experience with a wonderful closed circle system like that! Just like Jean Pain we used shredded organic matter like fresh cut Mango branches, leaves, straw, vines, twigs, bamboo etc. only. We mainly used brown materials which contain lots of carbon.
Usually you would add a good mix between Nitrogen and carbon containing materials to make better soil.
We gathered all kinds of organic matter and started shredding twigs and branches and so forth with a wood chipper.
After some hours of chipping we got about 25 big bags full of material. To that we added about 10 bags of straw to increase volume of the pile and to act as an insulator. We then build a bamboo structure to hold the compost in place.

We then started slowly building up the layers of the pile. We used straw at the bottom and the sites for insulation.
That way we believe the heat can’t escape so easily. In the centre of the pile we piled up all our shredded material.

With each layer that we stacked up, we added lots of water and compressed everything firmly.
After about 40cm of straw and chipped stuff we started feeding the hose in, layer by layer.

The finished compost pile ready for taking a compost shower.

We took our first compost heated shower 24 h after finishing the pile. The water had reached just a little more then 40°C.
It seemed to need no time to recharge since the water pressure is low the water is warming up immediately.

48 hours after setting up the compost pile the water has reached 50°C.
We are all enjoying some beautiful sustainable hot showers at the Panya project.

We will make further tests about the temperature and recharge time the next days and weeks.
I am very excited about how long it will produce heat and for how long we can use the pile for our compost shower.

More information soon. I’ll keep you updated…

Start of compost shower 09.04.2012 – evening

Day 1: 40°C                       Day 6:  55°C        …still producing hot showers!
Day 2: 50°C                       Day 7:  55°C
Day 3: 55°C                       Day  8:  55°C
Day 4: 60°C                       Day  9:  55°C
Day 5: 60°C                       Day 10: 55°C
Updated 26.05.2012

The compost is more then 6 weeks old now.
We measured the temperature the last time
on the 24th of May when it was 47°C !!!
Not even two days of effort have supplied us
with an almost constant flow
of very hot water and it is still going!
I’ll keep you updated…

Updated 05.07.2012


82 days old compost pile.                Compost heated shower from inside.           Temperature 40°C on the 30.06.12


Make your own pile!

About Jean Pain my inspiration for the compost shower:

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