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Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Ang in AZ, Jul 4, 2005.
please tell me all about your home made composting toilet? any details would be helpful.
Have you read 'the toilet papers' by Sim Van der Ryn? Very good read on build your own. And here is a good web site for you:
We used Mr Jenkins instructions (humanure handbook- available online).
Very simple. I believe it uses 1 by 8 pine and screws, I drilled the holes.
We made one that is picked up to swap out the buckets, and one with a hinged, lift-up cabinet top- seat and all lift up to change buckets.
Skip to chapter 8 if your in a hurry its got a lot of fluff
I have experience with both good and bad homebrew composting toilets. The best that I used had a concrete slab and three solid brick walls. The fourth wall was a hinged door with a large ventilation screen along the bottom, and there was a 8" ventilation pipe going through the ceiling. It was a two hole model, with one 'tank' per hole. The manure was very well ventilated, had no problem drying out, and turned itself into beautiful compost. The house was off the grid, so it was designed to work without electricity.
OTOH, I spent some time visiting an intentional community in Upstate New York. They had a composting toilet that they called the 'on house'. Their system consited of a 55 gallon drum, that they emptied once a week with a tractor. The crawlspace around the drum was ventilated with an electric fan, but there was no airflow through the drum itself. As a result, liquids were pooling in the barrel and there was allways a horrible smell eminating from the on house. I tried to explain to them why their system didn't work, but they wouldn't listen to me. Some of them were criticising me for criticising them, while others were saying that it was working fine, while yet others were saying that the whole idea of composting toilets was flawed.
I have also visited a family that used a five gallon bucket inside a home-made frame with a well sealed seat. There was another five gallon bucket filled with sawdust next to the toilet. The sawdust was used to absorb the liquid in the bucket, and the bucket was empied every day. That seems to be the simplest method, as it did not involve any structural changes to their house, although it did requre daily emptying.
Read the Humanure Handbook linked by someone above. The book is completely available online for free.
That's the method we are using. It works very well.
i vote for the humanure toilet too.
it works well, and if you follow the instructions, there are no odors, and no flies.
WanderingOak, did that composting toilet have any odor problem, that you noticed? This is what I would like to try; I can't see doing the composting inside or under out mobile home.
Also, I'm trying to figure out some additional sterilization system, not that I think that our waste needs anything besides proper composting, but to keep family members and visitors from freaking out. I'm considering using a solar oven that is used only for waste sterilization; or cooking it in a large pot over small fire, and making sure it gets to about 212 degrees before composting it...
I also plan to put our doggy solids and our cat litter-box wastes into our compost pile, and I plan to "cook" it also...
There's not a cheap or free source of sawdust for us to use, so we'll have to try using woodchips, and/or dirt, or chopped straw, or chopped dead leaves...or whatever is available and in season...
I agree with LittleJohn, the Humanure book contains a lot of fluff, and I thought his comments on religion and politics were innappropriate in a book claiming to be on a practical subject...but I'm guessing he couldn't find a publisher who would publish a book of 50 pages or less..
I have been using the three bucket system for a few months now It has been working great for me, no odors. One bucket is for the waste, and two buckets of cover. One bucket of cover stands ready by the toilet bucket, the second bucket is covered outside, just in case...
Sawdust is a problem for me too. In a pinch I have used kiln dried wood shavings, but the humanure book suggests against it, and it does seem to be breaking down slower than the leaves. I usually use ground up leaves since they are free, or even just soil a couple of times. If you use kiln dried woodshavings, or sawdust keep the pile moist outside, so it will break down faster, and absorb odors better. In fact, it seems every media I have used aborbs odors better if they are a bit on the damp side... not soaking wet, but not bone dry. The only time I've had any problems with odors was once when I had to really..... go, and my bucket of cover stuff was empty. I quickly collected a bucket of the dry sand that is considered dirt around here. It worked, but it did actually smell some, which the other stuff did not. Now I have two buckets for cover media.
Anyway, just my .02
Which composting toilet are you asking about? The 'on house' smelled like a very sick goat that had passed away a few weeks ago and was now quite putrescent. It even smelled bad during the winter. The concrete basement system did not smell at all. If anything, there was an 'earthwormy' smell that was only noticable when the seat was up. I used that system for a year and didn't have any odor problems whatsoever, even during 90 degree Kentucky summer heatwaves. I only used the 'bucket toilet' composter once. It was for a family with three teenagers, so I know it got a lot of use, but I didn't notice any smells when I was there. Of course, this was during November in the North Country (St. Lawrence County, NY), and the bathroom wasn't heated, so that may have had something to do with it.
When we didn't have sawdust we used Canadian peat moss (in the bale at garden centers) and it works fine but is sort of dusty. The Humanure plan is what we made and we were very happy with it. Rita in TN
Another vote for the humanure sawdust bucket type. Worked great, no odor. You can get sawdust from milling companies which make mouldings and such. I have also used old tea (not used tea, but tea which had not sold and the new crop was in.) I used an upside-down tea chest for the base over a 5 gal bicket and a toilet seat from Goodwill.
We use the humanure saw dust system. Very happy with it.
Other sites to read up on this subject are:
This is an excellent website............with pics too of their composting toilet.
Hope this helps. God bless