Can You Compost Popcorn? A Guide to Disposing of Old Popcorn



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compost heap popcorn

If you’ve got a bag of stale popcorn in your pantry or a pot full of old maids sitting in your kitchen, you’ll be pleased to know that you can compost it.

Approximately 2.6 million tons of food is composted every year. However, many people don’t know that they can throw popcorn into their compost with the rest of their food waste. This means it’s often thrown away with the rest of their household trash and ends up straight at a landfill.

So, now you know that you can compost popcorn, let’s find out more about the best way to compost it and whether there’s anything you can do to salvage old popcorn before composting it.

Can You Compost Popcorn?

Yes, you can compost popcorn. Popcorn is made completely from corn and is a natural ingredient, so it’s fine to put it in your compost bin. Popped popcorn will take roughly 20 to 30 days to decompose. You can speed up the process by heating up your pile of compost.

Do Popcorn Kernels Decompose?

It’s not just popped popcorn that will decompose in your compost bin, unpopped kernels will decompose too. It’s not known exactly how long it takes for popcorn kernels to decompose, but it’s a lot longer than 30 days.

How Do You Compost Popcorn?

Now that you know you can compost popcorn, you’re probably wondering what the best way to do it is.

TIP – Plain popcorn can be put straight into your compost heap. You should bury it under other items in your compost, otherwise wild animals may help themself to it.

Popcorn that has been covered in sweet and sticky toppings, such as sugar, butter, and caramel, can also be composted. But it will draw ants, flies, and similar bugs to your compost pile, which can impact the quality of your compost.

To prevent this from happening, try to remove as much sticky topping off your popcorn before adding it to your compost. You could also try putting a lid on your compost bin.

popcorn on a compost heap

This will keep some bugs and pests away, but some will persevere and get in.

What Can You Do With Expired Popcorn Kernels?

Expired popcorn kernels will slowly lose their moisture content, and this will stop them from popping as well as they should. If you want to be sure that your next batch of popcorn is a yummy success, it’s best to buy new kennels and find an alternative use for your expired popcorn kernels.

As already mentioned, you can add expired popcorn kernels to your compost. But there are other things you might like to do with them too, including:

  • Using them in craft projects
  • Turning them into beanbags
  • Making ice packs
  • Making sensory bottles for children

For more ideas, check our article – What to Do With Old Popcorn Kernels?

Can You Feed Old Popcorn to Animals and Pets?

Popcorn is loved by many animals and pets, and it’s a safe snack for some animals to eat. If you’ve got any of the following pets at home, you can feed a small amount of old popcorn to them:

Common farmyard animals can eat old popcorn too, including:

Old popcorn is a good treat for some animals, and it’s a cheap filler ingredient for others. If you’ve got lots of old popcorn and no pets to feed it to, speak to local farmers to see if they’re interested in taking it off your hands.

Are Microwavable Popcorn Bags Compostable?

Unfortunately, microwavable popcorn bags aren’t compostable. Microwavable popcorn bags may be made from paper and look compostable, but the chemicals used on the inside of them are what stop them from being able to go in your compost.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are the chemicals most commonly used in popcorn bags. They’re used to stop the grease from seeping through the bag when cooked.

So, what can you do with empty popcorn bags?

Unfortunately, there’s nothing else you can do except dispose of them with the rest of your general household waste. If you’re worried about the impact this has on the environment, stick to making your own popcorn on the stove, in a popcorn machine, or with a silicone popper.

Can You Bring Old Popcorn Back to Life?

Composting popcorn is a great way to dispose of old popcorn in an environmentally-friendly way. But it is possible to bring old popcorn back to life so that you can eat it rather than get rid of it.

Popcorn that has gone stale can be brought back to life in four different ways:

  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Pan
  • Popcorn warmer

To revive stale popcorn in the microwave, follow these instructions:

  • Put the popcorn in a microwavable dish.
  • Cover the dish with a moist paper towel.
  • Cook the popcorn for 30 seconds on a low to medium heat.
  • Take the popcorn out of the microwave and check if it’s crispy enough. If not, put it back in the microwave for another 10 seconds.

You can also use an oven to bring your old popcorn back to life. Here’s how:

  • Preheat the oven to 250 °F.
  • Cover a baking tray with baking paper and spread the popcorn out on top of it.
  • Place the tray in the oven for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the tray, place the popcorn into a bowl, and enjoy!

It’s just as easy to bring life back to stale popcorn with a pan. To do this, you’ll need to:

  • Place a tsp of oil or butter into a pan and heat.
  • When the oil or butter is hot, add the popcorn.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and leave for 30 seconds.
  • Remove the lid and check to see if the popcorn is crispy enough. If it’s not, cover and check again every few seconds.

Not everyone has got a professional popcorn machine, but if you have, you can bring old popcorn back to life with it very easily. All you need to do is:

  • Turn the machine on.
  • Place the popcorn inside the warming case.
  • Leave the popcorn until you’re hungry, remove it, and enjoy!

Composting popcorn is a great way to deal with old popcorn in a green way. But don’t forget that you have other possibilities before composting popcorn, including feeding it to animals and reviving it.

Next, read about how to reheat popcorn.


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