Why Use a Compost Aerator?Compost aerators are an easy and low cost way to speed up the compost pile. Here's a look at several types of compost tools that will help you turn the pile with a minimum of effort.
A compost aerator does 2 things. First, you bring fresh air (oxygen) to the middle of the pile to keep the microbes active. It also helps bring fresh uncomposted material into the middle of the pile so it will have some source of energy for the microbes, and it can also help to even the moisture levels of the pile. Now you could do all this by turning the pile with a pitchfork but the goal is to do it with less work.
Just as importantly it gets the uncomposted material worked into the middle of the pile, so that it gets into the more active part of the pile, and by doing this you can increase the speed of the overall composting of your bin or pile. This is the same basic principal that makes compost tumblers work faster.
If you have a compost barrel, or bin, which has enclosed sides, you will probably want an aerator tool. One of the most popular is the Compost Crank. This tool works pile turning into the pile, and then is pulled out to do the turning action. The advantage is that you easily control how deep you put the tool, and if it you have grabbed too much material to easily pull out, you simply "unscrew" the tool so it is grabbing less material, and out you pull.
The other common tupe of compost tool is the winged tool, which often has one or more sets of folding wings that lay flat against the tool as you push it into the pile, and then fold out as you pull the tool out of the pile, grabbing the material and turning it over. These work pretty well, but you can find yourself twisting and pulling if you snag too much material. These are typically lower priced than the Compost Crank. For a big pile you can find heavier duty tools that have more than one set of wings or more than one handle, which helps manage the whole effort better.
If all this sounds like it won't work for you, using multiple binned composters is another alternative. Simply turning material from one bin to another can get the job done, and it frees up a bin for your fresh compost material.