Frequently Asked Questions
What is Bokashi Fermentation?
It is the process of pickling organic waste material. It is done in a specialized container by excluding oxygen with microbes that are added to the food scraps in the container.
What is Bokashi Culture Mix?
It is comprised of wheat bran, molasses and microorganism.
When Bokashi culture mix is added to organic waste, the microbes immediately begin to grow causing the material to ferment.
What are microbes?
Microbes are living cellular organisms so small that they are only visible with a microscope. The microbes in the Bokashi culture mix come from 3 different groups - Lactobacilli, Fungi/yeast, and phototropic bacilli. This combination has been proven to rapidly degrade (ferment) organic waste while suppressing the growth of other potentially dangerous organisms.
Will the microbes cause harm to me or my pets?
No. These microbes are very common in nature and considered non-pathogenic. Each has a specialized function and they work well together. They are found in foods we eat like cheese, yogurt, breads and wines.
What do I do if my dog, cat, bird, or child has eaten some Bokashi Culture Mix?
Humans probably won't like the taste but animals will. As noted, no harm will come of it and you just need to keep it away in a safe place. If you spill some on the floor, you can sweep it onto the porch or put it outside where the birds will have a feast.
Can I use Bokashi culture mix to get rid of my pet's droppings?
Yes. We do not recommend using Bokashi fermentation to process animal feces because there is a small risk that organisms in the feces if then processed and placed in a vegetable garden could cause problems. If you are going to process that material and place it in the ground for ornamental plants, it will work well and get rid of the odors and mess that can be hard to otherwise handle. You should mix the feces with other plant material, leaves, or wood chips so that the Bokashi culture mix has a rich amount of material to process. Then after fermentation bury it in the ground covering it with about 8 inches of soil.
Can I use Bokashi culture mix with my kitty litter?
Yes. If you add a handful of Bokashi culture mix to the kitty litter each week, it will greatly help in reducing the odors of ammonia and waste in the litter. You can then ferment (pickle) the litter mixing it with leaves and other organic debris and use this product in the soil for ornamental plants. Do not put this material in your vegetable garden. There is no harm for your pet in using Bokashi in the litter.
How should I store my Bokashi Culture Mix?
Keep it out of the direct sun in a protected enclosure away from heat. Ultraviolet light will destroy microbes. Keep it dry.
Should I wear gloves when I use the Bokashi Culture Mix?
This is unnecessary as there is no harm even by direct contact. We provide a dispenser (caddy) and some people just open the lid and sprinkle the mix on the waste product directly. Others prefer to use the plastic spoon provided to scoop mix onto the waste.
How long will the Bokashi Culture Mix last?
The shelf life is many years.
How do I know if the Bokashi Culture Mix is ok to use?
The color of the Bokashi culture mix should be light brown and it should have a slightly sweet aromatic odor. You may see a white patch or two in a packet and this is normal. If it is black or blue or smells rotten, it has spoiled and should be discarded by burying it in the soil.
What are the white patches?
These are colonies of yeast (microbes) that have started to grow. They help in the fermentation of organic waste material.
My Bokashi culture mix has become lumpy and is hard to sprinkle. What should I do?
When there is a lot of humidity and heat, the culture mix can form lumps and appear sticky. You can restore the mix buy spreading it out on newspaper under a lamp. Let it dry and then crumble it back to powder and put it back in the caddy. This will restore it to a form easy to use.
What kind of container should I use for storing my Bokashi culture mix?
You probably won't need to change containers from those provided. If you use another container it has to be non-biodegradable. Do not use paper or wax bags to store the Bokashi culture mix.
Why do you use the name Bokashicycle?
The food we eat and the plants we enjoy are fed nutrients by microbes. A well established system exists in nature where nutrients in the plants are in time returned to the soil by non-soil microbes to complete a cycle of energy initiating the growth of new plants. The idea of "recycling" is redundant as the cycle has always existed. The anaerobic fermentation process with specialized microbes completes the cycle in a non-polluting way (no green house gases are released in the process). All of the nutrients including carbon and nitrogen that are needed to build new plants return to the soil.
What does the term anaerobic fermentation mean?
It means oxygen is excluded during the breakdown process. Technically during the fermentation process small amounts of oxygen may be present. The process works best when the oxygen levels are very low and is inhibited when oxygen is present.
Why does the waste material look the same after fermentation?
Bokashi fermentation is a pickling process. Just like a pickle or pickled onion still looks like it did before pickling, so will your organic waste look as if nothing has happened. It is however structurally and chemically quite changed.
What happens when I put it in the ground?
The soil microbes very rapidly finish the job converting your fermented organic waste to a rich nutrient soil for your plants. In numbers, the soil microbes may be anywhere from 1,000 to 1,000,000 times more numerous then the fermentation microbes. They will immediately begin to degrade the fermented waste product and they re-establish soil microbial and nutrient content.
How long does it take to Bokashi ferment my organic waste?
The Bokashi Cyclette is designed to optimize the fermentation process. It normally takes only 7 days to completely degrade the organic waste so it can then be placed in the ground.
What is a pressure plate?
The ceramic pressure plate is useful in excluding oxygen at the surface interface where Bokashi culture mix has been added to the organic waste. By pressing down with the plate after adding the Bokashi culture mix to the food scraps, oxygen is excluded and this gets the fermentation process moving quickly.
What is Bokashi tea?
This is the liquid that is produced during fermentation and includes some liquid that was associated with the waste material put into the fermenter.
What do I do with the Bokashi tea?
The liquid removed is loaded with microbes and nutrients. If you dilute the tea 100 to 1 with water and then use it to water your indoor or outdoor plants, they will get the benefit of the nutrients and microbes. The plants should show in short order improved blooms and growth.
How long do I wait to get the Bokashi tea?
It may take a week or more if you are just starting a process. Once it begins to form, you will usually collect some every few days. It depends on what is being put in the fermenter and if you are getting very little tea it is ok.
When I lift the fermenter (Cyclette) I can hear water but can't get anything to come out. What's going on?
This means your spigot has become blocked. Next time you bury the fermented product in the ground, wash the Cyclette with water to clear the spigot. If it does not drain easily, try flushing water back through the spigot to clear the blockage. It will normally clear with little effort and then drain freely should it get blocked.
Do I need to drain the Bokashi tea?
Some people believe the fluid levels can slow the fermentation process, possibly by keeping the temperature down. We recommend using this valuable liquid for your plants. In theory the process should work just as well even if liquid is present.
What else can I do with the Bokashi tea?
If you pour it down the drain it will help keep the drains clean. It is very useful in preventing sludge from building and blocking drainage fields in septic systems and is a good way to minimize problems in your septic system. Just use the tea undiluted and poor it down the drain.
How do I know my Cyclette (fermenter) is working properly?
There are two tests and they are simple. First use your nose. If the material you are trying to ferment has a putrid odor, it means you are not using enough Bokashi culture mix. Normally a slightly sweet pickled odor will be noticed when the anaerobic lock is taken off the Cyclette. If the material being fermented is turning blue or black you are not using enough Bokashi culture mix. Add more and make sure to layer each batch of waste with culture mix sprinkles evenly over the surface.
What do I do with a bad batch?
If adding more Bokashi culture mix did not take away the putrid smell, then take the batch to the garden and bury it under about 8 inches of soil. Toss a couple of handfuls of Bokashi culture mix into the hole and mix a little soil into the batch before covering it. It will degrade to a fine nutrient soil in about 10 days with no residual odor.
Do I have to empty my Bokashi Cyclette before taking a vacation or short trip?
No. It is okay to leave it sealed for many days as the fermentation process will only complete and then remain stable until you put it into the ground. We do recommend generally that if you are planning a trip to empty it into the garden and wash the Cyclette with water before you leave. This is just common sense and good housekeeping.
Where should I put the Bokashi Cyclette system?
You should place the system where it is easy for you to use but out of direct sunlight and away from any heaters. It is going to work best if kept indoors at ambient temperature. It can be in a closet, in the laundry room, or in the kitchen. If you live where the temperature is warm year around, you can keep it outdoors but keep it out of the direct sunlight. The UV rays will kill microbes and can harm the plastic material making it brittle and shortening the life of your Cyclette.
Why do I need two Cyclettes?
When you fill the first Cyclette, the last added waste material is just beginning the fermentation process. It needs about 7 days to complete this process. The system allows you to stack one Cyclette on top of the other. By bringing the empty Cyclette to the top position the continuous filling of Cyclettes with waste material can go on without interruption. When the top Cyclette is full, the bottom one is ready to empty into the garden and then be used in the top position.
Why do you stack the Cyclettes?
It is very easy to drain the tea when the Cyclette is in the top position. You can open the spigot and tip the Cyclette slightly forward to collect all of the tea at anytime. The bottom Cyclette is always the next to go to the garden.
Do I have to worry about gases being produced during my fermentation process?
No. Unlike composting, no measurable gases are being produced and you will not notice any bad odors. It is perfectly safe to operate in the home. No methane gas is produced.
Will vermin be attracted to my Cyclette?
No. This is a great advantage. Because the system is completely sealed no mice, rats, cockroaches, or other pests will be attracted to the fermenting organic waste. You will not be bothered by fruit flies or any other insects coming to the waste material.
Will animals find the buried fermented product?
If you have properly fermented your organic waste and buried it in the soil with at least 8 inches of soil over the top, the animals will not find the material attractive. Before you cover over the fermented product, mix some soil in with it to help accelerate the second and final conversion to nutrient soil.
What's the difference between compost and Bokashi fermented end product from the soil?
The Bokashi fermented waste end product after the soil microbes have finished the process is far richer in organic content and nutrients. In the process no greenhouse gases were produced and no heat was generated which is quite the opposite from composting where many polluting gases and heat were allowed to escape to the atmosphere. Composting reduces the mass of material by more then 50%. Bokashi fermentation leaves the mass of material virtually unchanged. The moisture content for Bokashi fermented end product is much higher so this soil does not desiccate (dry) the soil as does compost. You are conserving water in the ground. The organic nutrients in the soil after Bokashi fermentation are not as water soluble as are the nutrients derived from composting (by oxidation) and are therefore less prone to leaching away with watering and run-off after rains.