How Long Does It Take For Hair To Decompose? [Long Way OMG!]

Do you want to know what happens to your hair when you throw it off? How much time does hair require to decompose in the soil?  How long does hair take to decay after death in a coffin? Does hair crumble easily? Can the hair be used as a substitute for fertilizers?


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If you are curious to know about the decomposition of human hair then this post will provide you with the answers to all of your queries. Let’s have a look.

How long does it take for hair to decompose?

Hair decomposes very slowly because of its distinct composition, hair is capable of resisting microbes and remains longer. Hair may take 1-2 years or many decades to decompose fully, depending on the climatic factors, quality of the soil, and the medium in which hair is disclosed.

Long lovely tresses or short-trimmed hair waste could be an environmental threat if not disposed of properly. To deal with this risk, hair should be degraded or used as natural fertilizers and herbicides to increase the production of plants as it contains more nitrogen than ordinary compost.

Scroll down to know more about the decomposition of hair in different mediums and varied situations.

How Long Does It Take For Hair to Decompose After Death

As hair is made of keratin, it withstands the severity of the environment and resists decomposition. After death, the process of decomposition begins for the rest of the body and different parts of the body start to disintegrate.

Whereas, most of the human hair persists and remains attached for a longer time.

Generally, human hair takes about 1-2 years to decompose after death depending on the environmental conditions, the nature of the elements to which hair is revealed.

The volume of hair and the presence of bacteria that eat keratin also affect the rate of decomposition of human hair. In a controlled or arid environment, hair can endure for ages.

How Long Does It Take For Hair to Decompose In a Coffin

The human body starts to decay shortly after death and this process begins from the brain. This decomposition occurs in different stages. However, high heat and excessive humidity speed up this process.

But It is difficult for microbes to break down nails and hair into simple components as compared to the other tissues of the human body because of their structural and chemical composition.

In a sealed Coffin and very dry environment, the rate of decomposition of hair is considerably reduced and it can last for 10 – 100 years like Egyptian mummies.

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In a less deep grave and wet soil, the decaying process is faster and is completed in 1-2 years. Whereas, the body and hair decompose more slowly in 2-3 years if the coffin is deep in the soil.

The condition of the soil largely affects the rate at which a body is decayed. But if the corps is preserved by chemicals then the hair can endure for many decades.

How Long Does It Take For Hair To Decompose In Soil

The soil is the best decomposer for most of the natural remains but what about human hair?

Human hair endures decomposers for a longer period as compared to the other soft parts of the body.

According to scientific studies, hair resists the decay process and takes about one to two years to decompose fully in the soil.

Hence, the nature of soil and weather conditions can accelerate or slow down the rate of decomposition of all types of hair including human hair.

How Long Does It Take For Hair To Decompose In Water

Human hair is insoluble in water and unable to break down in its base components soon after we dispose of hair in the drains. So, hair waste is the biggest cause to block the drain system.

The decomposition of hair in water can occur in several months or a few years depending on the nature of water and other ingredients dissolved in it.

Hair can take more time to break down in water naturally because of its specific structure and composition. Since hair is harder and slower to decompose, it can be a big environmental hazard.

How Long Does It Take For Hair To Decompose In Casket

Normally, hair, nails, and bones are relics that take much time to decompose but as nothing is eternal, they too deteriorate or wear off with time.

It is the chemical bonding of hair that makes it more strong. Hence, hair does not decompose at a constant rate. In unfavorable conditions like extreme cold regions where degeneration is very slow, hair can take many decades to decompose completely.

However, if the casket is deeply buried and sealed in very damp soil having thick clay then the decomposition will be very slow. So, the hair will outlast longer because of the absence of oxygen in the casket. Whereas in dry and light soil, body and hair break down faster and decompose into a skeleton in 10-12 years.

When the casket collapses at the bottom, the remains decompose and slowly merge in the soil.

How Long Does It Take For Hair To Decompose In Compost

How long will it take for hair to break down in compost?

Adding hair directly to soil is harder to crumble naturally because insects and microbes don’t eat hair. The process of decomposition of hair used as compost can happen in one or two years.

But hair goes well when used along with fast-acting fertilizers. Hair can take 1-2 months to decompose fully when it is composted before adding to the soil.

You can also use biodegradable hair mate as topsoil or at the bottom of plants to make your plants grow faster and to prevent weeds. Hence, adding short hair in compost can increase the richness of soil by slowly releasing nitrogen and other nutrients and providing support to the roots.

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How Long Does It Take For Hair To Decompose Naturally

Unlike skin, flesh, and other soft tissues, hair is not broken down by decomposers. The hair remains longer and takes much time to decay when thrown away.

Generally, hair takes one to three years to disintegrate naturally. The decomposition rate may be different in different regions because of the climate conditions and the nature of the soil or ground.

Though hair resists keratin eating enzymes, yet warm and humid weather and exposure to air can boost the decomposition of hair. Hence, short and thin hair takes less time to disintegrate naturally.

How Much Time Does It Take For Hair To Decompose

The particular structure of hair makes it difficult for microbes to decompose fast like the other organic matter. But as nothing lasts ever, hair too crumbles with time.

Hair can endure for many years if the weather conditions are conducive and hair is properly cared for like natural hair extensions. On the contrary, hair can last for about 2-3 years if thrown away after being cut.

Chemical bonding between the protein molecules and amino acids present in hair makes it stronger to resist the decomposers for several years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does hair help plants to grow fast?

Hair is an excellent natural fertilizer and it helps to grow plants as fast as the chemical or other fertilizers do. But hair needs to be used in combination with more active fertilizers to speed up the decomposition of hair to release nitrogen and its basic components fast in the soil.

What happens to your hair when you die?

Hair is made of dead protein (keratin), which is capable of enduring long after you die but is unable to grow. There is a myth that hair and nails keep on growing even after death but in reality, hair and nails become stiff because of dehydration and create the delusion. The hair of the dead endures decomposers for a long time but in the end, turns into ashes and is mixed in the soil.

Is human hair Biodegradable?

Yes, hair being a natural product, is biodegradable. Hence the decomposition of hair happens in several years but when it decays, produces enough nitrogen to pollute the water or air if burned. Human hair and the fur of animals like dogs and cats can be a great environmental risk because of their longevity.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, how long does it take for hair to decompose?  The hair because of its stronger chemical composition resists decomposers for a longer time and needs 1-3 years to disintegrate fully. But the rate of decomposition of hair is different in different mediums depending on the weather conditions, humidity, and the depth and type of the soil.

Human hair can also be used as compost with other fertilizers because it contains nitrogen and other nutrients enough to increase the fertility of the soil. Hair like other organic substances is biodegradable and cannot be left untreated on the ground or in the drains. Human hair can be a big risk for the environment if improperly thrown away.