uncategorized


How to Safely Compost Human Waste

How to Compost Human Waste

Fully Composted Human Waste

Composted Human Waste is excellent fertilizer for non-edible plants.

This is an article on how to safely and easily compost human waste. It’s not difficult, but you MUST do it right, or people could get sick.

Human waste can be safely composted by carefully following a few simple guidelines. These are my suggestions only, based on the comprehensive Composting Toilet Guidelines published by the Government of British Columbia in Canada, and recommendations from the World Health Organization. I make no guarantees about the accuracy of this information, and if in doubt you should check with your local authorities.

First, it is much easier to compost human waste waste from a urine diverting composting toilet. The material removed from a urine diverting toilet should be just slightly damp – perfect for composting. With a non-urine diverting toilet, the contents will be too wet for efficient composting, and the combination of urine and feces creates an anaerobic environment that allows very stinky bacteria to flourish (think outhouse or portable toilet at large public event). A urine diverting toilet is key to the successful composting of human waste, in my opinion.

compost human waste

Composted Human Waste

When the human waste is removed from the toilet, you should place it in a dedicated composter. The type of container is It is very, very important! It must not leach out the bottom or sides, as this might contaminate groundwater. It must be protected from rain and snow – it cannot get wet. And it must have lots of ventilation. The easiest way to meet these requirements is a rotating compost drum or barrel that sits off the ground. You can build one if you are handy, and there are many sites on the web showing how to do that. You can also buy one fairly inexpensively. In my area hardware stores carry them starting at around $100.

composting human waste tumbler

Two compost tumblers would be ideal for composting human waste

You can add leaves or grass to the compost bin. However, I don’t like to add vegetable waste as it seems to make the contents too wet. It is a good idea to learn a bit about composting basics. You should monitor the contents from time to time. If it seems wet (it should be just slightly damp), add dry grass, dry leaves, or dry peat moss. If it’s too dry, you’ll need to add a bit of water. Keeping the contents just slightly damp will ensure rapid and complete composting.

Additional Tips to Successfully Compost Human Waste

You need two compost bins to compost human waste. Use one at a time. When the first bin is full, start using the second bin. When the second bin is full, the first one should be ready for the plants.

Add lime to the compost bin. This will drastically reduce the time it has to sit, before being safe to bury or spread on non-edible plants. Use roughly 3% lime to total waste volume – i.e. if you have a full 50 gallon drum of waste, use 1.5 gallons of lime. These numbers are very approximate. With lime added, the bin needs to sit undisturbed, without adding new material, for 120 days. This will kill all pathogens. Without the lime, the time frame is much more uncertain, and varies from 6 month to 2 years, according to various sources.

You must never put composted human waste on edible plants, because of the small chance that dangerous bacteria is still alive in the waste. Always use human waste compost on non-edible plants only, or bury it.

If you follow these simple steps, you will have a complete, safe, low cost waste treatment facility on your property.

 


Separett Bags

Glad Tall Compostable bags are a good substitute for Separett bags

Glad Tall Compostable bags are a good substitute for Separett bags

Separett bags

Separett bags

Separett Bags

I get many questions about what bags to use in a Separett toilet. These need to be compostable bags that will readily break down in a compost bin. The actual Separett bags are excellent, but they are very expensive. There are other compostable bags, commonly available at hardware stores, grocery stores, and online – for far less money. These bags are thinner than the actual Separett bags, so you’ll need to double bag the bucket.

Glad Tall Compostable bags are commonly available – and inexpensive. They are a good alternative to Separett bags. You may also wish to try other brands.

bin with Separett bag

Bin with Separett bag

You don’t want your compostable bag breaking open while it is still in the toilet. Therefore, you want to double bag the bucket, or use the thicker Separett compostable bags.

If the toilet is emptied infrequently, the bag could begin to break down inside the toilet. This is not a big problem. Just dump the entire contents of the bag into your outside composter, rinse out the bucket with water (if it is dirty), put a new compostable bag in the bucket, and you are good to go.

You should have two composters to compost your waste. These should not be open to the ground underneath, as they could leach. I like the rotating drum composters. Use one at a time. After the first drum fills up, you can start using the second drum.

compost toilet compost tumbler

compost tumbler ideal for composting humanure

When the second drum is full, you can put the contents of the first drum on non-edible plants. Adding lime greatly speeds up the process. With lime added, your compost should be ready for the plants after 120 days (above freezing). I do not recommend a specific brand of compost drum, but there is an excellent review of the best models here.

Read Separett FAQs here.

You can read more and watch videos on the Separett toilet here

 


How Our $33,000 Tiny House Changed Our Lives

How Our $33,000 Tiny House Changed Our Lives – by Gabriella Morrison of tinyhousebuild.com.

The tiny house movement has taken the nation by storm and is rapidly spreading to other countries around the globe as well. The genesis of tiny houses, as most of us picture them, came from the creative vision of a man named Jay Shafer. In the late 1990s Jay grew tired of spending winters in his Airstream which was not insulated and adapted for a midwest climate. Sparked by ideas he’d seen in some home-built RV books, he took it upon himself to design and build his own diminutive home on a trailer base. It suited his needs and saved him a ton of money over conventional housing.

There’s no way that Jay, or anyone for that matter, could have predicted how much his tiny house was going to alter the very tapestry of housing in the US. Tiny houses are now bona fide, offering solutions to those in financial need, veterans, college students, environmentalists, minimalists, and more. Codes and zoning are changing at rapid speed to accommodate the swelling of interest. Outside industries are rushing to create solutions specific for tiny houses (insurance, lending, technology, construction materials, appliances, etc.). What was once a sparse desert is now a tropical and lush landscape teeming with life and opportunity.

tiny house kitchen

People from all walks of life become enchanted with tiny houses. Truly, with our website www.TinyHouseBuild.com as a DIY resource charged with empowering novices building their own tiny house lifestyle, we hear from people as young as 14 to as golden as 80. From homeless people who are excited to finally have the opportunity for safe shelter, to retirees who would rather save resources and live in something that isn’t wasteful. From soon to be college students who don’t want to follow in their previous generations’ footsteps towards debt, to young families who above everything else value time spent together and a lifestyle that promotes that possibility.

For my husband, Andrew, and I personally, we were driven to the tiny house movement after discovering that in finally achieving the infamous “American Dream” in 2009, we had paid the ultimate price: time away from our two kids, an increase in stress, and a radical deterioration of our happiness. Our new beautiful house had dismantled years of close connection as a family and a lifestyle focused on joy, health, and experiences rather than material possessions. Six months after move-in, we discovered the tiny house movement and within six months after that, we had gotten rid of the house, 90% of our worldly belongings, bought a pop up tent trailer, and moved to the tranquil beaches of Baja, Mexico to “reset”.

tiny house hallway

In our 150 sq ft pop up tent trailer, we realized that while living with the least, we were experiencing the most. Our inter-personal relationships improved to their best selves ever, and the inner tranquility we felt from a slow lifestyle was so intoxicating that we struggled to come back up to the States to rejoin our lives up here. In that moment, we committed to creating a lifestyle that would best give us the possibility of success and inner calm: we decided to build a tiny house.

About three years after living in Baja, we found a very inexpensive piece of acreage in beautiful southern Oregon, designed and built our tiny house, and lovingly named it “hOMe”. The cost to build it was $33,000 which included all of the appliances and furnishings. Nearly half the cost of just the DOWN PAYMENT of the average house in the US. Assuming we never move out of here, we will never, ever have another housing payment again. The amount of stress we’ve been able to alleviate through this truth has been significant.

Our family of four lives on five mountaineous acres in an off-grid set up. We generate our electricity from the sun 9-10 months out of the year and rely on a gas powered generator on sunless winter days. Our Separett toilet is a large part of what makes our off-grid lifestyle so successful. One never knows just how invaluable a well functioning toilet is until they don’t have one. We had tried two other composting toilets when we first moved into hOMe and they had been disasters. We have been using our Separett for over three years now and still love it. We put our waste in a three stage composting bin away from our house and allow decomposition to transform it all. No odors, easy maintenance, no crank levers, easy urine management, and a nice, sleek look.

Tiny House Toilet

We have been living here for over 3.5 years and we continue to love it. Both Andrew and I work from home full time and we’ve found this space to be extremely conducive to a focused work environment. We spend a lot of time cooking and so our full sized kitchen with full appliances accommodates our active family’s needs. Our kids are 20 and 17 years old and use hOMe as their main base. Being a close family, they are often in here hanging out, watching a movie, cooking in the kitchen, and using the bathroom facilities. It’s truly amazing how well we are all able to flow through our tiny house without bumping into each other. For sleeping, both of our kids have their own small cabins right next to our place. They have no plumbing but do have power. This has been a wonderful arrangement for our family.

Tiny house living isn’t for everyone but our observation is that it’s a perfect fit for those that value close relationships with those they live with, those that are motivated to live a life that is economical and light on the planet, and those that are willing to deal with discomfort during a transition period. Most of us will go through a significant and often uncomfortable transition when first making the move to tiny. It’s not easy at first (it wasn’t for us) because most of us aren’t used to living in such close proximity to others. I can tell you though that after our own experience, and also from hearing from hundreds that have made the move to tiny, that the initial stage is very short and on the other side is a lifestyle that is more rewarding, peaceful, and joyful than most of us could even imagine.

Note: Tiny House Build now offers plans! This is probably the best place on the web for tiny house plans. Visit them at tinyhouseplans.com


Top 10 things to know before buying a composting toilet

Top 10 things to know before buying a composting toilet 

Separett Composting Toilet

Separett Composting Toilet

Gain important knowledge, and avoid buying the wrong composting toilet.
  1. Will it stink inside? Absolutely not, as long as you have a toilet with a vent and fan. The fan draws air into the toilet, and exhausts the stinky air outside. It should never enter the bathroom area.
  2. Will it stink outside? There can be a bit of odor where the vent terminates the home. This is less with a urine diverting toilet. The vent should not terminate near a deck, door, or opening window. If in doubt, run the vent up to the roof line. Do not believe anyone that tells you that you don’t need a vent. There is moist, stinky air in that toilet and it MUST go outside.
  3. How much does a good composting toilet cost? You should expect to pay between about $950 and $2000 for a high quality composting toilet with a vent and exhaust system.
  4. Is it legal? Probably, but legality varies widely. Usually, permits can be obtained (if necessary) by approaching senior managers at the county office. Inspectors generally can’t approve them, because it’s not in the code book. You can read my detailed post on the subject here. Are Composting Toilets Legal?
  5. Is it a urine diverting design? The better toilets separate urine from solids. Urine is practically sterile, and very easy to dispose of safely. Solids begin drying out quickly, lose odor, and also become easy to dispose of. When you combine urine and feces in one tank, it becomes much more difficult. You might need powerful heaters.
  6. What do I do with the solid waste? You need to think about this carefully, because human solid waste can pollute the water and make people sick. Store the waste in a compost bin outside (I like the rotating bins). Choose a bin that is sealed, and cannot leach any liquid on to the ground (but is not airtight). Ideally you will have 2 bins. Once the first bin is full (and that can take a year or more depending on the number of users), start using the second bin. When the second bin is full, the contents of the first bin can be placed on non edible plants.
  7. How will I vent it? Vent it through the wall or roof. Most of what you need should be supplied with the toilet.
  8. How will I get rid of the urine? Urine can go into a gray water system (with the shower or sink water), or it can be drained into a rock pit.
  9. How often will I empty it? The smaller composting toilets like The Nature’s Head for 2 people need to be emptied every 3-4 weeks with full time use. The larger toilets like the Separett will be emptied about every 3-4 weeks with 4 people using full time. This varies with the amount of toilet paper that is used.
  10. Is there excellent service and support? Customer service and support is critical when buying a composting toilet. Make sure you can reach the appropriate people directly and easily. You will have questions. It’s best to buy from someone specializing in composting toilets, rather than a hardware store, or someone selling all kinds of products. You need expertise here. It’s critical to get the right toilet, and to install it properly. A person that also sells solar panels and tiny home gear may not have the requisite knowledge.

If you have other questions on composting toilets, please let me know.


Are Composting Toilets Legal?   Recently updated !

This is a complex question, unfortunately. If you are building a new home, the building inspector might want you to install an “approved” composting toilet system. What this means varies widely from place to place. In some areas, composting toilets are welcome, if properly installed and operated. In other areas, authorities don’t seem to be interested in approving them. In my region, the inspector has told me “I understand what you are doing, and I like it. But there is nothing in the code book about it, so don’t ask and I won’t say no”.
If you need a permit, it’s best to talk to your local authorities. You might have to speak with someone in sanitation, engineering, a department manager, or someone else in charge, as a special permit may be required. The building inspector is more likely to be helpful than the person behind the counter. If you have forward thinking people at your local government offices, you should be able to show them your waste management plan. If it is a sound plan, you may well get approval.In urban areas especially, where new houses are concerned, they might require that basic plumbing infrastructure be built into the house ( drain pipe, vent stack and water supply). This is so future owners of the home will be able to choose the type of toilet they use, and not be locked in to using a composting toilet.In a way I can understand the concern. The municipality or county is handing over the very serious responsibility of dealing with human waste over to the home owner. They are concerned that a careless person might not deal with the output of their composting toilet appropriately, and someone could get sick, or water could be contaminated. When used properly, composting toilets produce harmless fertilizer only, but it does require care and attention.CertificationsSome toilets have certifications from independent testing agencies. This might be an ETL certification ( for urine diverting toilets) or an NSF 41 certification (non-urine diverting toilets). Complicating matters is that local inspectors have no knowledge of the important distinction between urine diverting and non-urine diverting toilets, and may request the incorrect certification. In some areas “certification” is required. In many places, it is not. In addition, there are many other certifying agencies. Muddy waters indeed.Certifications are problematic. First, they do not address what happens to the solid material once it’s removed from the toilet – and that is the most important thing! Any composting toilet could possibly have fecal pathogens in the solid waste that you remove. It is critical that this waste be carefully handled according to instructions, and that fecal contamination does not occur. The certifications provide absolutely no assurance of that.

 

Secondly, some certifications are very expensive to obtain. They can cost over $40,000, with annual ongoing fees of several thousand dollars per product or model. For this reason, numerous toilet manufacturers are deciding not to pursue certification. Complicating matters is the fact that some older toilets which do not work all that well have obtained certification, while some newer models that work much better do not have certification. So we have a crazy situation where some toilets that don’t work very well are certified, and toilets that work very well are not certified.

Thirdly, there is no universal agreement among government agencies on certification, what it means, what should be tested, or what should be required. In my personal experience, composting toilet certification is confusing to everyone, and being certified is in no way a guarantee that a toilet will be approved.

New Guidelines on Composting Toilets

Very detailed,comprehensive guidelines on composting toilets have recently been published. This was an extremely well thought out process, written by an engineer and peer reviewed. These are probably the best, most thorough guidelines on composting toilets available. Although published in Canada, I am hopeful they will be read and adopted widely by governments across North America. You can get a copy at the link below, print it, and take it to your local authorities when you apply for a permit. Show them you are adhering to these guidelines, and that your installation will be properly done, with no health risk possible. BC government guidelines on composting-toilets.

Separett 9215

Get rid of flies in composting toilets

Get rid of flies in composting toilets

A question that comes up from time to time is “I have flies (or gnats or whatever) in my composting toilet. How do I get rid of them?” In my experience, about one person in 20-30 eventually has this problem, so you are not alone. The good news is, you can easily solve the problem of flies in composting toilets, and dramatically reduce the chance of getting them again.

flies in composting toilets

Separett Composting Toilet

The first step is to eliminate potential sources of flies in the home. The toilet does not produce flies, and there should not be flies or fly eggs in human waste. That means the flies came in from somewhere else. Fruit bowls are a big culprit. Once in the home, flies will be attracted to the toilet, where they lay eggs and multiply. Before leaving your cottage, eliminate all possible sources of flies, including garbage (not even an apple core should be left behind) or compost.

flies in composting toilet - fan essential

A fan in your composting toilet helps prevent flies

 

The second thing you do to get rid of flies in composting toilets is make the toilet unattractive or unavailable to the flies. Clean the toilet very well inside, in every nook and cranny, with something that will kill fly eggs like a mild bleach solution. Water and vinegar will not work. Don’t get the fan wet. With the Nature’s Head you can remove the fan housing and hose it all down outside, after using the bleach. However, the Separett fan housing is a bit of work to remove, so it’s best to clean the toilet with the fan housing in place.

Add about 5 cups of diatomaceous earth to the new coconut coir in the Nature’s Head, or with the Separett add a cup per week to the removable bucket. You may have to experiment a bit for the optimal quantity.  Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. It is a very good natural insecticide. This will solve the fly problem 99% of the time. It is not expensive and commonly available.prevents flies in composting toilet There is another natural pesticide called Gnatrol, which seems to work very well.

Be sure the fan screens are clean, unobstructed, and pumping air. You should be able to feel air being blown out at the exhaust vent.

kills flies in composting toilet

moth cake for composting toilet

As a very last resort, you can put a small “mothball cake” in the lower part of the toilet. The fan should exhaust the odor, and you should not smell mothballs in your home. This will definitely stop all flies. However, mothballs contain a chemical insecticide, and therefore must be used cautiously.

Once you do these things, I am quite sure you will have no more fly problems. Cleanliness and removing the source of flies is by far the most important step.


Urine Diverting Toilets

Urine diverting toilets are a significant improvement over older composting toilet designs, that combined urine and solids together in one tank. Urine diverting toilets eliminate most of the liquids in the composting chamber, substantially reducing odor, and making the break down of solids much easier.

urine diverting toilet bowl

Urine naturally drains forward when men or women sit on the toilet

Although most composting toilets work fine when properly installed and very carefully operated, I do frequently hear complaints from people who say their toilets “are not working” or that they simply smell bad.

The main problem is usually too much liquid from urine. If the contents are too wet, you will not get compost. You will get a sodden, stinking mass of sewage. Odor problems can certainly occur. In theory, the urine should be evaporated by the built in heater and/or fan. But in practice, the volume of liquid may simply be too great for this to be accomplished. Emptying a toilet full of un-composted material is hard to even think about.

To try and solve this problem, many non-urine diverting toilets have overflow drains to handle excess liquid.  These drains MUST be clear and working properly. The overflow drain must be led somewhere below the toilet itself so gravity can cause it to flow away. That may be difficult, especially if you are already at ground level or don’t want to cut holes in your floor. Also, you need a sump, container or pit where this excess urine can be stored. If you have a properly working overflow drain, you should have no problems. The overflow will be urine mixed with feces, so it cannot go into the gray water system. It cannot be drained into a pit, and it cannot be used as fertilizer. In other words, it’s a problem.

A better mousetrap?

urine diverting toilet bowl

urine diverting toilet bowl

A superior solution in many ways is a urine diverting composting toilet (also called a urine separating toilet). These have only recently become more widely known. You use the toilet normally, but most of the urine is diverted automatically into a separate container. This means the solid contents remain only slightly moist – perfect for composting. Separating the urine solves the excess liquid problem common to most conventional composting toilets. The urine has not been contaminated with feces, so in many areas it is legal to send it into the gray water system. Typically, this will be a tube running from the urine diverting toilet to the drain below the bathroom sink. Or you can store the urine in a tank, dilute it with water, and use it as fertilizer. It can also simply be led into a small drain pit beside the dwelling.

urine diverting toilet drain pit

urine diverting toilet drain pit

According to the group SOIL (sustainable organic integrated livelihoods) – a non-profit that builds composting toilets in Haiti – urine diverting toilets are the way to go.  They have experimented with many different methods. From their website:

“Urine Diversion toilets have the significant advantage of reducing the amount of waste that needs to be transported therefore reducing gasoline consumption and costs. Because the excreta remains dry, the toilets are also less odorous than other toilet models and very pleasant to use.”

Other advantages

Another advantage of the urine diverting toilet is that no heater is necessary. Some composting toilets made by Envirolet, Biolet and Sun-Mar use heaters of up to 500 watts. That could be a significant cost, with our soaring energy rates. And what is the point of installing a “green” toilet if you use large amounts of electricity to run it? The heaters may eventually fail, costing more money. All manufacturers do have non-electric or 12 volt models, which use little electricity. However, you must be extremely careful to have a working overflow drain in those non-electric toilets.

Urine diverting toilets need only a small, inexpensive, easy-to-replace fan that uses very little electricity. Or they can be hooked up to a solar vent and you can forget about the fan and power use entirely.

Solid human waste is approximately 85% water by volume. This means that a urine diverting toilet will have enormous capacity for its size. The solid material dries out and shrinks dramatically (just like a compost pile in you backyard).

And finally…urine diverting toilets do not have any problems whatsoever with odor – unlike some older models of composting toilets.

Still not perfect

However, even with a urine diverting toilet you still need a way to dispose of the urine. Fortunately, this is fairly easy. Urine is almost sterile (advanced lab techniques sometimes identify a tiny amount of bacteria) and does not pose a health risk.

The easiest solution is to run the urine drain into the gray water system. If you don’t want to go that route, you can build a simple “French drain” to solve the problem. This is a small pit, about 2′ wide and 2′ deep, filled with small rocks. You cover the rocks with landscape fabric and place soil and grass seed on the top.

Run a tube from the toilet, through the wall or floor and directly into the French drain adjacent to the building. This way you will never have to think about the urine again, as it is getting disposed of constantly.

You can also store the urine in a plastic tank, and dilute it with water 10:1. It is then exceptionally good fertilizer.

Many people install the smaller urine separating composting toilets on boats and in RVs. In this case, the urine can be dumped in any conventional toilet or outhouse as needed.

Capacity

Some urine diverting toilets, such as the Nature’s Head, are smaller, self contained units suitable for 2 people full time or weekend use for up to 4 people. The larger Separett toilets have more capacity and are suitable for a family and general household use. Either toilet will be emptied about once every 4-5 weeks with full time use. This takes between 2 and 3 minutes, and is not unpleasant. Unless you have just used the toilet, there will be little or no odor when you empty it. Urine diverting toilet seats are available for the handy do-it-yourselfer that wants to build their own urine diverting toilet system.


Nature’s Head Review

The Nature’s Head has worked great! I have a 30′ Pearson sailboat. The holding tank was way too small and took up room in what would have been a wet locker. It always smelled. It is illegal to pump over board and the pump out stations were not functioning most of the time . With four people on a 3 day weekend the holding tank would soon be overflowing. I looked at replacing the holding tank for a larger size but that reduced space further. I then started looking at composting toilets dig this. The short answer is the first season in Maine the toilet worked like a charm. It doesn’t smell. It was simple to install and I was able to use the composting portion for the whole season with about every weekend use and a week family vacation with at one weekend 7 people on board! Urine disposal is quick and easy. It fits great in a cloth grocery bag and you simply dump it at the marina toilet. The only addition I am going to make is add an extra urine tank as we moor at islands that do not have marinas. The product works like a charm and I don’t have to worry about what my kids are swimming in.


DIY Composting Toilet


A question I frequently get asked is “is it possible for me to build my own composting toilet?”. The answer is yes. People have been building and using composting (sometimes called “mulching”) toilets for generations. However, there are a few very important things to be aware of if you are to succeed.

homemade compost toilet

homemade compost toilet

The basic home made composting toilet

A homemade composting toilet is usually just a 5 gallon bucket with a seat, inside a wooden cabinet. These can actually look really nice, if built by a skilled woodworker. You need to use an absorbent, natural material (like sawdust) to cover the contents thoroughly after each use, and prevent odor. Because many home built composting toilets do not have a fan or ventilation, this sawdust cover is absolutely vital – or it will stink.  A general rule is to ensure the ratio of sawdust to human waste is 1:1.

You can see a good video on building a very simple homemade composting toilet here.

However, it is possible to make huge improvements to this basic bucket and seat design. Below is an excellent video showing the improvements that I will discuss.

First, add ventilation. Ventilation will dehydrate the solid material and eliminate odor. The poop will rapidly shrink, greatly increasing the capacity of the bucket. No sawdust has to be added.

Attach a vent hose or plastic vent pipe to the toilet box. Run this outside, either through the wall or roof (You’ll need an external vent cap and possibly some roof flashing. The folks at the local hardware store could sort out what you need for this project). Some vents draw naturally, with the wind (you’ve seen these – they are metal, with slits, and they rotate). Or a small computer fan could be installed in the pipe. You might have to cut off the corners to make it fit. You’ll have to plug that fan into source of electricity – a wall socket or connect it to a battery. The battery can be trickle charged with a small solar panel.  Another option is a solar attic vent. These are a bit pricey – maybe $200 – but they are a very nice solution, and require no wiring.

vent for composting toilet

rotating vent for composting toilet

 

Second, add a urine diverting seat. Almost all odor problems relating to composting toilets result from the contents being too wet. Combining urine and solids in one tank (or bucket) is asking for trouble. The solution is to keep them separate. Buy or improvise an inexpensive urine diverting

urine diverting toilet seat

urine diverting toilet seat

toilet seat. There will be a drain tube from the seat, which you route to a small drain pit outside of your dwelling, or send it to an existing gray water system. Or dilute the urine and use it as fertilizer. Urine is sterile and does not pose a health risk.

With a urine diverting seat and a fan installed, your home built composting toilet will rival professionally built toilets in effectiveness. If you just have a bucket with sawdust, well, it’s not as good and you could run into odor problems if all users are not  careful. You can purchase a urine diverting seat here: Privy

Finally line the plastic bucket with a compostable plastic bag, to make emptying easier.

When the bucket gets about 3/4 full, you should take it outside, and dump it in a compost bin. This should ideally be a sealed bin, without holes in the bottom. You don’t want the contents leaching into the ground. Here it should remain, until fully composted. It might take just a few months, or up to a year, depending on the temperature. When it has fully composted, you can put it on non-edible plants as

composting toilet compost tumbler

Two compost tumblers would be ideal for composting humanure

 

mulch. You actually need two bins, so one can sit for the required length of time, with no new material being added. I like the rotating drums, but there are many other possibilities.

For handy, do-it-yourself people on a strict budget, homemade compost toilets are an excellent solution for the difficult problem of managing human waste. With a bit of effort, they can be far improved over the simple sawdust toilet designs.