I have been spending some time thinking about how to combine our Jenkins bucket toilet, compost pile, new outhouse and future house Separett Villa toilet. I think I’ve found a possible solution but it would be great to run it past you guys to see if anyone can think why it wouldn’t work.
Our current set up is in a tiny house using the bucket toilet and emptying the contents into a compost pile. The system seems to be working great and we don’t feel like we need to change anything there. It gets a bit weird though when we have guests over or people working in the garden. Nobody seems comfortable using the tiny house toilet, which seems fair considering it’s in a space smaller than most people’s closets, and I think the bucket freaks some people out. It seems like a good addition to our setup to put in an outdoor outhouse type compost toilet. In addition to this we’re planning to start work on our full sized house which will have the Separett Villa urine diverting toilet. Possibly less off putting for guests than the bucket toilet but would keep the same system of emptying into a compost pile.
The idea is to try and combine the compost pile with the outhouse and still use this as the pile for emptying the bucket style toilets. I’m imagining a double chamber compost pile but with a outhouse building on top. We would use one side for a year, then close it up and switch to the other side like with a double vault toilet system. We would like to keep the Jenkins compost pile management, so lots of cover material around the sides and on top after use. At the beginning of starting a new chamber we would prep it by lining the bottom and sides with straw or something similar. The hottest part in the middle would be kept clear by using a cylindrical shaped wrap of hardware cloth attached to the top floor structure. Something that would keep the cover material at the sides, the excrement in the middle but still allow worms and insects to pass through. This way when someone used the toilet it would go straight down the shoot into a hole of straw, and same as when emptying the bucket into the pile. The toilet seat would be on a wooden stand that could easily be moved to the side to allow the emptying of the bucket toilet into the pile, as well as topping up the sides with more straw maybe a couple times a year.
The compost bin part of the structure would be built more or less like a normal compost bin. Cedar posts in the corners to hold the upper outhouse structure up, with wood siding attached to the posts. We’d build a access hatch on the back of the compost bin part to remove compost after a year. It’s basically the Jenkins humanure bucket system, accept we’re removing the bucket part for the people using the outhouse. I know a lot of people have problems with flies and smells, but currently we have neither at our compost pile so I can’t see why this would be any different. I’d plan on keeping it fairly open at the top to allow enough oxygen but not too open that you’d see things dropping down the chute from the outside! We looked at the concrete double vaults, Clivus minimus and wheelie bin designs but didn’t really love all the concrete and plastic used.
I hope I’m explaining this well enough. Happy to draw some plans and sections to help explain.
Any reason why this would be a terrible idea?
Gillian, yes, that would probably work, but expect flies, gnats, rodents, and varying amounts of time of decomposition depending on the season. And is the pile of ...well, let's be frank....*%^&.... is where rodents, flies, gnats, etc., have access to it, that is never a good idea because the stuff gets tracked around by the animals. And who wants to shovel the contents year after year even if it is composted. It's only fascinating for about the first 6 months. Then reality sets in, and not everyone feels comfortable with that. Outhouses are cold, out in the dark/storm/rain/snow/icy ground, and do you want everyone, including maybe a small child (even if it is a guest) going out into the dark of night?
Also, at some point someone will get nauseous and will need to have a clean and sanitary place to go in a hurry! Only having a composting toilet/outhouse doesn't really allow for that.
After years and years of composting toilet use, I've switched to a worm tank. You could use this witihout a flushing toilet, if you aren't there yet. Worms are amazing, and very quickly deal with the contents as long as it's damp. Worms can drown, freeze or bake in too much heat, so the tank (which doesn't have to be much more than 50 gallons for 2 people), needs to be in a protected place. The tank that I've had working for about a year never has an insect near it, maybe a few ants at first, but that's it. No bad smell. I've never had such a success after having used composting toilets for 20+ years.
We've got enough to deal with living remotely, so the more comfortable, easy, and warm the bathroom can be, the happier everyone is.
Search these forums for worms and composting toilet, humanure, there are diagrams and photos.
Don't fall for the My-Place-Is-Special, It-Won't-Happen-Here Syndrome.
I haven’t looked into worm toilets much, I’ll do some more research into that. Thanks!
I probably wasn’t very clear in my first post. The full size house we’re building now will have a comfortable bathroom with the Separett Villa toilet. Nobody will be forced to go outside in the cold at night! It’s a urine separating type but which still requires having the solids emptied. The nice thing about it for guests is that it looks more like a normal toilet and has a door that opens when you sit down and closes again when you stand up. Happy to look at other options for the house though. I should mention we are in Canada and the house is slab on grade so anything has to be within the bathroom itself. No basement.
The outhouse would only be for when we have friends over and we’re all outside or working in the garden and don’t want to go inside. And while we’re still in the tiny house and people don’t want to use the closet sized toilet. I was trying to think of a way to combine the emptying of the house toilet with the outside toilet. Mainly just to avoid having multiple poop piles around the yard!
Ah, so the outhouse is separate. A worm tank indoors might be an issue, because they can escape, and the water needs to flow through a worm tank, not sit in it, because they can drown, so that would mean an outflow pipe to the worm tank that is protected from freezing and baking sun, placed so gravity sends the water away. But the contents does need to be wet, just not in liquid.
When I first set up a blackwater tank I used a large plastic storage container, 15 gallons, with a snap-on lid. The worms can come and go in case it flooded or got too hot, but it's outside on the ground. If you try the worms in the outhouse first, get the hang of how it works. If you like it, you can fashion one to fit your tiny house. Think vertically, climbing up on a compost toilet-style top box that drops down into a worm tank with an outflow pipe to an outside set of underground pipes into a landscape zone or orchard. Not good for annual vegetables. Make sure the box is insulated in either setting so they won't freeze or get too hot.
Search on Greywater Pipe in Bark Chips, click on Images (rather than the All/text search results) and you'll see all kinds of different PVC pipe arrangements for underground distribution of blackwater, worm castings, or greywater.
Don't fall for the My-Place-Is-Special, It-Won't-Happen-Here Syndrome.