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Composting Toilet + Waterless Urinal?

 
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So I've read all the composting toilet books. ALL of them. And the greywater books. And reviews of commercial composting toilets, both self contained and chambered. Many, many reviews.

And the thing I keep coming back to is pee. (I know Joe Jenkins suggests just mixing them, but I've already ruled that out. Just based on potty training two kiddos, I know the smell is too gross when mixed.)

From what I've been able to gather from reading, most composting toilet systems do fine with poop. The problem is that they get overloaded with pee, especially if there are parties or visitors. Many composting toilets even have an emergency valve or tube to deal with this.

Now, I have some time to figure this out. We are in underwriting right now to buy a house (on 24 acres! plus garage and derelict barn! woodlot and orchard and hayfield! can you tell I'm excited?!) that has a septic system in place, but the septic is going to need to be replaced in 3-5 years. Needless to say, that ain't gonna happen.

What I'm thinking is that I'm going to have the husband install a waterless urinal in the bathroom right away. They are between $200 and $300. I'm going to buy GoGirls for myself and my daughter, and a stack of PMates for female guests. In my experience, men will use a urinal if one is at all available, and I think the occasional terrified female guest will not be too much pee for a composting toilet to cope with.

Then, also in short order, we are going to build an outhouse that has a sort of cold frame type thing on the south facing side, to accelerate composting. And plant a willow nearby. An amalgam of several good ideas I've seen kicking around.

Then, I'm thinking I'm just gonna drop the cash (I know, I know) and get a self contained SunMar. Worst case scenario, if I need to empty it, I'll have a good place to do so: in the outhouse.

Down the road awhile, I want to build a separate bath house (with wood fired Japanese soaking tub, and a shower, and a sauna, that's connected to the main house via a radiant heated greenhouse) and in that, experiment with a homebuilt composting toilet, that includes either a separating toilet seat or another waterless urinal.

My questions are as follows:

-once we have achieved septic independence, can/should we route the pee from the urinal into the greywater/dry well system? This will be irrigating plants, so I'd like to be able to use that diluted nitrogen. I can find no resource that says this is either a good or bad idea.

-is there any reason I should just use a separating toilet seat? I'm leaning hard toward the waterless urinal because I don't want to haul containers of pee out of my house, and because either way (separating toilet seat or waterless urinal) I'm going to have to teach one sex to do things differently, and more women (at least , those that I know) are eager to learn to pee standing up than men are to learn to sit down and aim.

-is there any reason that I should get the electric SunMar if it's primarily for poop and just some incidental, pre-pooping pee + occasional, terrified female guest pee?

-has anyone done anything like this?

What we have going for us:

-we have installed and tweaked a greywater system at our current house
-my husband is good lay-plumber
-we both are not at all freaked out by potty issuesS
-I've build an outhouse and my husband has built two

In closing, please advise!
 
pollinator
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Do NOT get the Sunmar or any other composting toilet if you are willing to do the bucket or outhouse method. Had on, different brand, but way more problem than it was worth.

Waterless urinals can go to greywater IF the chemical used is safe and no one has any disease or bladder infection. I would keep them separate, or have a way to bypass if anyone is sick or strangers are visiting.

 
Leta Boylan
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Well, the thing is, I'm really NOT willing to do the bucket/outhouse method. I can wrap my head around it in a worst case scenario, huge party/extended visit sort of situation, but I certainly don't want to do it regularly for a family of five. NO.

Why would a bladder infection be problematic?
 
R Scott
pollinator
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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The system needed to keep up with a family of five is expensive--it was more than a septic system when I looked at it.

The one everyone I know likes best (the one I wish I would have bought): http://www.lehmans.com/store/Appliances___Composting_Toilets___Nature_s_Head_Composting_Toilet___16303105?Args=

If you are handy, you could permanently plumb the pee tank to drain with the waterless urinal to the greywater system.
 
Leta Boylan
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Now THERE'S an idea! Thank you!

I've been pondering going with a SunMar Centrex. We have some friends who are a family of four and constantly host events, and that's what they use and while it does take some maintenance, they don't have any problems with theirs. She even pulled out the bottom drawer for me and it was totally inoffensive dirt that they are removing.

I'm thinking if I can locate the composting chamber appropriately in the basement- that is, right under where the toilet is presently located- I'd like to build some sort of remote system, ideally similar to a Clivus Multrum.

I saw one remote-style homebuild in Finland that used 55 gallon drums on a giant lazy susan. They had a tube that led from the toilet to the drum, and once a year, they'd go down and move the tube from one drum to another, spinning the lazy susan. There were four drums, and by the time it was time to empty the first, it was like 10 gallons of peat moss, what was left in there.
 
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You can purchase a urine-diverting composting toilet or make one.

Urine diverters are available for purchase (here's one I sell: www.ecovita.net/privy.net I'll have more in soon).
And of course you can make them out of funnels, as I used to do in Mexico. After making these, you'll see the value of the manufactured diverters. However, a funnel can be just fine. Make the diverter with an auto parts store large funnel or with a cut bottle.

You can make a waterless urinal out of a bottle or funnel or purchase the oil-trap versions or the no-trap versions.
I install low-cost waterless urinals with no trap when then drain to a graywater system or gravel trench.

Urine is a great additive to a graywater system because it adds nitrogen to the carbony water that is graywater, creating a more complete diet for microbes and plants.

Much of this is shown in my book, Liquid Gold, and somewhat in my books, The Composting Toilet System Book and Reusing the Resource.
 
Carol Steinfeld
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Leta, the lazy-susan design is a knock-off of the "Snurredassen" or Carousel composting toilet system of Scandinavia. Bob Crosby in Alaska likes to make these.

No need to make a lazy susan, though. Just use barrels, ideally with wheels. Or move them manually or with wheeled platform. Barrel composters get heavy!

We sell plans for such systems---dry, urine-diverting, and/or micro-flush toilet stools---and will feature the plans in more detail in the future. A diagram is in our book.
I'm happy to explain the system further.

Carol
 
Leta Boylan
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Carol, I have read the Composting Toilet System Book. It's been a couple of years, however. I remember liking it a lot, but not quite being there yet- only now do I have a house in mind that I'm trying to figure out how to retrofit. I have not read Reusing the Resource or Liquid Gold yet. I guess I haven't read all the composting toilet books after all.

I am a little hesitant to build ourselves a composting toilet as our first rodeo. The only ones I've ever encountered have been commercially manufactured or huge public installations.

If we put Bilco doors and possibly a ramp from the exterior of the house into the basement, and if the basement extends to under the bathroom (not sure, need to measure) then I can sort of see us building one. As it is, the house has strange basement access. It's just a tiny closet, the entire floor of which is a trap door, and right now, that's the ONLY WAY to get in the basement. A big person would barely fit down there, much less a 55 gallon drum.

Even if we used a Separett seat, I really don't want to empty a bucket of poop and sawdust daily. With 5 people plus guests I know I'd end up doing it everyday. I'd much rather have a remote system versus a self contained system, so everything had longer to compost and it all had to be maintained once a month or less rather than daily or weekly.
 
Carol Steinfeld
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Leta, so you are saying you have no real accessible space under your bathroom and you don't want a self-contained system that sits on the floor of the bathroom?

How far away is the outer all or an accessible space below the floor of the bathroom?

A system with a microflush toilet draining via a pipe of some angle (I forgot the slope #%) leading to a composter is your solution.

Or if the purpose is to reduce load on the septic, install a little waterless urinal. Men and motivated women, with or without a funnel, will use it. Or use a pee-jug as we do.
I find women aren't crazy about using the paper funnels called Pmate after the novelty wears off.

Good luck!
 
Leta Boylan
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Yeah, microflush is always an option, but my preference is a dry toilet if possible. I'm not sure if there's available space directly under the bathroom- I need to get down there and take a good set of measurements.

I don't want something self contained in the bathroom because I think we are just too many people. I think the poop would not have a chance to compost much, if at all, before the bucket/chamber would need emptying.
 
Carol Steinfeld
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Establish the composting toilet elsewhere.

Poop won't roll horizontally---or nearly any angle---without help via a vacuum or water or somesuch.

 
Leta Boylan
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Yeah, I'd like to put a composting toilet elsewhere as well, but my goal is to just not have or need septic at all. So realistically, I'll need something in the bathroom, whether it's dry or a microflush.
 
Carol Steinfeld
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Well, you'll need a composter and that has to either go under the bathroom or on the bathroom floor or outside the bathroom and served by a microflush or vacuum toilet.

Good luck, Leta. Don't put a composter anywhere hard to access.
 
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I just wanted to comment about how those 'thrones' in abandoned castles in Europe now make more sense. Straight down, then mixed with the water in the moat- during dry season it would be highly motivating to get in before the drawbridg
e went up!
 
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