Monday, December 7, 2009

DIY:Simple Humanure Composting Toilet

Have ya ever thought about where your poop really goes once it's flushed away? My first hint of understanding this mystery was growing up in New Orleans and driving on the Earhart Expressway past the big, smelly and ugly sewer treatment plant in Jefferson Parish on my way to school - it fascinated me to no end that everything flushed ended up somehow at this steaming alien looking factory of steal & holding tanks. Everything, meaning all the usual bodily excrements plus I began thinking of my mom's toilet bowl cleaners, toilet papers treated with bleach, puke, tampons, needles, paint, firecrackers and gawd only knows what else the freedom of flushing gave to people to throw down there. It really hit home when as an adult I moved into a secluded cabin in the pristine mountains of North Carolina, which only had an outhouse for a bathroom, and the reality of what goes down the toilet goes into the earth became a glaring truth. As I not only prepare to move into a place of my own soon and refuse to be part of the land wrecking "septic" builder genre, I also presently live where no septic is available so I have been exploring what type of system works best for a potty.

Working 'best' will ideally follow these criteria:
1. I don't have to face coyotes and freeze my ass off if i have to go to the bathroom.
2. Gentle on the earth and my nose.
3. Doesn't cost me ridiculous amounts of money just to have a spot to poop.

The following video is a simple DIY project about how to make your own composting tiolet for $25 or less! Considering that a manufactured composting tiolet will cost well between $850-$3,000 dollars to install making your own humanure system is probably the most economical and truly the most earth friendly.

PS- Here is another link for plans to building a PASSIVE SOLAR COMPOSTING TIOLET! Woo, now that is neato!



Mokihana and Pete said...

Hey, Leslie,
Good info, and another resource worth knowing about. We have a home-made version of the composting loo ... used in in the field with ponies in Bend, OR. Since our vardo life is moveable and subject to changes the ct is for us.

We are building our porch pod to include a (manufactured) loo that we are trading/bartering in exchange for some work with a good friend. Either way, the thing that comes with a composting loo is a bit of anatomical responsibility ... your emissions ... liquid vs. solid need to be collected separately or the 'composting' is inhibited by the liquids.

It takes work to get back to simple ... yet, what a small price in the long run.


Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Hey Mokihana!
I would love to hear more details about your experience with your composting toilet... pretty please! Like how do you separate your liquids and solids - do you go pee in a different place? And what do you put on it for odor (peat moss, microbes, leaves, sawdust?)
That is so cool you are trading work for one! Neato!

Anonymous said...

That is so gross

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

What is so gross? Bodily functions? Composting poop yourself instead of sending it to a mystery place to be chemical treated and destroy the earth? The video?
You should elaborate on your opinion.

Mokihana and Pete said...

Yup, bartering for a loo is good juju. Learning more about composting toilets, a person will discover that some of the manufactured ones have a 'separator' built into the contraption. Still you have to be aware of your self ... you know what I mean. Or, yes, you pee in a different place as a solution, too. Your point about this subject not really being gross is right on. It might take practice and hay, practice now and avoid the rush later.

We did lots of research about the composting toilet, and Pete especially looked into putting the home-made one together with the info he learned and the real life materials we could use. Like we don't use plywood for much of our stuff because the glues will set my sensitivities on their backs. Our home-made loo is made from a small galvanized garbage can with a tight-fitting lid and a solid oak toilet seat (just like in the video).

We use organic peat moss to over and kick in the composting, and are having good results with no-odor and it's down into the teens at night now. Peat moss works for me with MCS reactions to consider, and plus it's organic peat to begin with. BLACK GOLD ORGANIC Peat Moss is what we use. We can carry it with us in the truck, so it is a good option for us. When we get into an area or an organic farm where raw/organic material for covering is available things might be different.

That video you posted talks about how those folks empty the loo into bins. We have a mobile life, so our options will be different. Again, when we are on an organic farm those bins will be a solution; otherwise, if necessary we would take the composting loo to an RV dump station(only as a last resort) or hook up with other composters.

It's a work in progress ... we're still newbies at 62. Gotta love it!

Gratuitous said...

At the Hostel in the Forest ( they've been using sawdust-composting toilets for many years. In spite of the additional challenges of a constant flow of visitors as opposed to an intentional community of permanent members, it's just plain easy to do anyway. Since it's risky to maintain compost for vegetable gardens when you have so many people passing through (no pun intended), the humanure compost is separate and used for flower gardens and other non-consumables.

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Thanks for all that info, it was really helpful. When you get your composting toilet i hope you put pics up on your blog of it, I would love to see! Which actually gives me an idea - I wonder if people ever ebay them for less expensive? hmmm.... gotta go check that out.

Thanks for the reminder about not using the humanure compost on your regular garden. For me, I just want something safe that can go back into the earth - I dont think I'd be inclined to put it on my veggie garden. Even though cow poop and horse poop (and i bet donkey poop too) is ok!
Also, it's cool to know it was easy and you can speak from first hand experience.
Going to check out your link after I pursue my composting toilet ebay fantasy.


bathmate said...

Thank you for your nice posting.
it is really helpful to us.
such a nice topics.