Composting toilets

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by country_wife, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. country_wife

    country_wife Evil Poptart

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    Does anyone here have one? Are you happy with it? Or would a bucket of sawdust work just as well as one of those $4,000 models? (I kid you not, I saw some for that price.) Not that I could ever bring myself to spend anywhere near that on something I plan to ..um..you know..in.
     
  2. Yvonne's hubby

    Yvonne's hubby Murphy was an optimist ;) Staff Member

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    I have one, free to a good home. It was about a $5k unit when it was new, was working fine when the new septic system was put in a few years ago.
     

  3. kabri

    kabri Almst livin the good life

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    I have a Sunmar compact, brand new, I would sell for $200 (paid over $800) because we don't need it now. I hate to say this, but we've been using sawdust bucket for several years now and they work very well!
     
  4. emulkahi1

    emulkahi1 Well-Known Member

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    How "shippable" are these things? I clicked on this because I am also pondering the same question as Country_wife, so these one's for free or cheap are tempting to me. We have an in-town house but are wanting to put a small 1 (or 2?) room cabin up at our outside of town property and don't want to go thru the whole plumbing thing. We'd contemplated an outhouse, but maybe this would be a better idea. Montana's a long way from KY though, so if they can't be shipped, I'm outta luck :eek:.
     
  5. kabri

    kabri Almst livin the good life

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    I'm in WA and willing to make you a deal on it, just collecting dust in our house right now. PM me?
     
  6. Wisconsin Ann

    Wisconsin Ann Happy Scrounger

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    We have both a composting toilet (envirolet) and a sawdust "humanure" type. Personally, I prefer the Envirolet because it's self contained, vents to the outdoors, easy to clean the base and doesn't need the sawdust. I also like the sawdust toilet for it's ease of moving around and the price :)

    With the composters you need to figure out the size you need for the household. And you need to install a few things. (like the vent pipe, waste pipe for the 2story types, etc.)

    The toilets are shippable, but would be cumbersome to disassemble and pack, I'd think. Depends on the type.

    The sawdust toilets can get out of control if you don't stay on top of it (so to speak). Some people find them really gross...just the thought seems to turn some folks off. :shrug:

    either one is perfect for a cabin. Neither smells if properly used. both are sanitary, if properly used.
     
  7. Bonnie L

    Bonnie L Well-Known Member

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    We have a Biolet. Not real thrilled with it but it does dehydrate the humanure so it's easier to dispose of than a bucket. We've been using ours only in the winter & using the outhouse the rest of the time.

    Some of the drawbacks to the composting toilet - doesn't like toilet paper, difficult to fix when the cotter pin breaks, the cotter pin breaks if things get too dried out & jam the blades.

    As pricey as it was, it was cheaper than putting in a conventional toilet with a drainfield.
     
  8. Forerunner

    Forerunner Well-Known Member

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    We sawdust bucket.
    I wouldn't spend 5 bucks on anything to make myself or anyone else feel one
    whit the more sophisticated.
    Sawdust eliminates all odors and binds the nitrogen chemically for the makings of great compost. As for staying on top of things, isn't that what separates "homesteaders" from the convenience/sophisticate crowd ?
     
  9. Rick

    Rick Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We use nothing but sawdust year round. Our 2 year pile was like peat moss when I scooped it up and gave it to the fruit trees. Our 3 year old pile went to the garden.

    We are 1 hour from Parkersburg. If you are ever in the area, you can come see for yourself.
     
  10. Smallhold

    Smallhold Well-Known Member

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    Got an outhouse that needs a new hole every month or less. Depending on number of users. On my own I could last half a year.
    Am working on an indoor box with bucket and sawdust. It´ll be composted.
    Plus a pee bucket for indoors which is literally liquid gold. Mix 1 to 10 with water and fertilise plants.
    Wouldn´t spend money on a fabric build one. Yes it´s more work having to empty the bucket or dig a new hole but that to me, outweighs the price of a fancy one.
     
  11. Forerunner

    Forerunner Well-Known Member

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    Lest there be a personal preference issue, there's no practical reason to have two buckets, one for urine, one for solid waste.
    In our house of six, we fill a three gallon bucket each day.
    I chose three gallon because it made the toilet shorter, hence more user friendly for the little guys. :)

    There is always an excess of urine each night, largely because of the little guys, :) and I encourage them to keep just keep covering....
    The morning chores include taking the bucket out to the compost pile, digging a hole for the contents and covering all with more sawdust, straw or wood chips.
    Our "household" compost piles also consist of garden weeds and waste, kitchen waste and occasional animal stall cleanings. It never takes more than six months for a completed pile to rot down to rich, black humus.

    Did you all know that the words, "humus" and "humility" come from the same root ?
    I wonder if composters-- you know, the really humble ones-- will inherit the earth....:shrug:
     
  12. paul

    paul Gregarious Hermit

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    I've used both. Sold the Sunmar compact. I'm squatting in a house with real plumbing now. No, not that type of squatting--I mean I'm not paying rent. However, when I get my own place built, it will back to using a bucket and sawdust.

    What I would recomend is trying the bucket and if that doesn't work, decide if buying a commercial unit is worth it. BTW: I had a folding camp toilet that was supposed to have a plastic bag hanging under it, but the buckets fit perfectly. I paid a buck for it at a yardsale. Some of the ones that fit over a regular toilet for disabled use look like they would work well too.

    homesteadpaul
     
  13. Teri

    Teri Well-Known Member

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    We've used both and I would definitely not waste the money on a composting toilet again. The sawdust method worked just fine and was much cheaper.
     
  14. country_wife

    country_wife Evil Poptart

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    For those of you with sawdust toilets:
    Do you empty it daily or more than once daily? How much sawdust do you start with and how much do you apply after each use?
    Thanks!!!!
     
  15. nappingonthejob

    nappingonthejob Member

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    I'm also curious about what the 'day in the life' of a sawdust toilet household is like...does regular tp compost well?

    I'm imagining a life with no septic system to build/maintain/repair, no mysterious toilet plumbing emergencies...but is it really that simple, or do you turn into the poopsmith trying to maintain it?
     
  16. Square Peg

    Square Peg Well-Known Member

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    Don't laugh -- this is a serious question. Does it matter what kind of sawdust you use? A neighbour told us that cedar would be no good for composting (we let on we were talking about a garden composter) because it would take too long to break down. We have access to lots of free pine and cedar sawdust -- maple we'd have to pay for. Would cedar sawdust be a problem and take forever to break down?
     
  17. Forerunner

    Forerunner Well-Known Member

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    Pine and cedar are just fine. A few more weeks breaking down is hardly a concern.
    Regular tp decomposes just fine.

    After dumping the bucket, we rinse it with rain water, and pour that on the pile.
    We then start with an inch or so of fresh sawdust in the bottom of the bucket to eliminate any residual odor as well as keep the bucket a little easier to clean.

    The only sawdust I'd hesitate to use would be that from treated wood.
    There is a commercial sawmill just down the road that makes several different consistencies of sawdust. All work well. There are Amish around with smaller band mills that make a much finer sawdust than the bigger commercial operations. The fine stuff is very good. When running a bit low, I take my chainsaw out and cut up some firewood in the lot and rake up the sawdust. Chainsaw sawdust works as good as any and adds up quick enough to make the operation efficient for home use such as we are discussing.
    As I mentioned in earlier post, we dump a three gallon bucket once a day, not usually quite full, for a family of six.
    .....and, yes, life without septic worries is as simple as a five minute chore each day. The added benefits of the finished compost more than make up for that.
    Shredded leaves, bean hulls, peanut hulls, shredded straw, cardboard, paper, etc. all work, the finer the better, but sawdust is best.
     
  18. Nette

    Nette Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sort of straying here, but...Has anyone ever tried using kitty litter rather than sawdust? We're going motorcycle tent camping next week, and for a porta potty, I'm planning on using the bucket (with Luggable Loo seat), lined with a trash bag. Since space is an issue on the trailer, I figured a small container of kitty litter might do the job better than a bag of sawdust. (Don't kill me! I know this method is not the most environmentally friendly.)
     
  19. Forerunner

    Forerunner Well-Known Member

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    Kitty litter is dried clay of a particular variety.
    It absorbs moisture and odor, but is much heavier in the end and not near as efficient as sawdust. It will work short term. I'd hate to be dependent on it for long.

    Someone asked how much sawdust each time to cover.....
    The answer would be, no more than it takes to hide the evidence.
    A light coat eliminates a lot of odor.
    That said, you can tailor your carbon/nitrogen ratio in the pile by what you do in the house. If your carbon is low in the pile, use more sawdust in the house.
    If nitrogen is low (and moisture) use as little sawdust as can get the job done.
    You will develop a feel for what works and it will no longer require thought.:)
     
  20. hunter63

    hunter63 Well-Known Member

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    Ours is still operational, move it from the cabin to the shed's "bathroom", little addition on the shed that we used the sawdust toilet in before the cabin.

    We now have a full blown, state approved, septic, plumbing, water etc, in the cabin, but we still used it up-stairs in the loft, for those middle of the nite "visits".
    Lack of room caused it to be moved out.

    We used it for several years, and the best mix seemed to be sawdust mixed with a peat moss, potting mix, that I got on sale at the end of a the gardening season.
    seem to absorb the moisture better, and better odor control.

    Sawdust ranged from ceder chips, to any sawdust I could rake/sweep/ gather etc, so the peat moss just seemed to prevent bigger chips from "floating" if you know what I mean.

    We had checked into the cost of a commercial composting toilet, out house (here you have to put it on a holding tank, then pump it every so often, tank cost the same as septic tank).

    As we had a guaranteed "perk", and needed the well, we did the septic for the same money as a composting toilet.

    I personally would not spend the money for composting toilet, cost, problems relaided by most folks I have talked to/read about etc.

    The sawdust works very well, no problems with the pile "digesting" most any kind of TP and sawdust mix.