Composting with decomposers that need air (oxygen) is the fastest way to make high quality compost without any foul odors. Aerobic decomposers also produce heat, which speeds up the composting process.
Active composting occurs in the temperature range of 55-155 degrees Fahrenheit. Pile temperature may increase above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but this is too hot for most bacteria and decomposition will slow until the temperature decreases again.
Note: A thermometer is a nice tool but is not essential for good composting.
Is Heat Necessary for the Composting Process?
Good compost can be made in a pile that never gets hot, but decay will be slower and it will take longer to make compost. Not enough air, too little or too much water, or too many browns in the mix could all keep a pile from heating.
High Temperature Benefits
The benefits of a high pile temperature include:
Fostering the most rapid decomposing of organic materials
Killing off of pathogenic (disease causing) organisms