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Anybody use a bucket toilet?

 
Posts: 3370
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Ernie, your family is full of sh!t. in a good way

A cubic yard per month?!? THAT IS A LOT OF FERTILIZER!!

Price a yard of composted manure--that would be a noticeable amount in any budget. That $$$ will buy a lot of trees or a LOT of seeds.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1841
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Sarah Mae wrote:I think the term *waste* should only be used to indicate inefficient use. Clearly naturally-generated organic matter itself can never be waste, though it is sadly most often wasted in North America...



"Waste" means that you loose it or that it cannot be used efficiently.
It seems that "naturally-generated organic matter" can be a waste, if the transformation does not provide what we want but other side products such as nitrates...
If what is "naturally-generated" is not available to plants or goes into the underground water table, then it is a waste, even if it looks like nice soil.
If some invisible by-products accelerate the decomposition of the organic matter, thus giving the appearance of a big nice boost to the plants, then not only this is a waste, but this is armful.
 
Posts: 15
Location: SE New Brunswick Canada, Zone 5a
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:"Waste" means that you loose it or that it cannot be used efficiently.
It seems that "naturally-generated organic matter" can be a waste, if the transformation does not provide what we want but other side products such as nitrates...
If what is "naturally-generated" is not available to plants or goes into the underground water table, then it is a waste, even if it looks like nice soil.
If some invisible by-products accelerate the decomposition of the organic matter, thus giving the appearance of a big nice boost to the plants, then not only this is a waste, but this is armful.



Yup. That was my point.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1841
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Sarah, I do not know if you also mean that not only water toilet are harmful, but also some ways of using a compost toilet, according to what I read in the link I mentioned eautarcy.com
Some ways might, at a smaller scale, do as bad as pig farms with the liquid manure.
Pigs are natural, and there is a problem with the use of the dejection when they separate urine or get some liquid stuff because of a lack of vegetable/cellulosic matter.

The bucket toilet is what is said to be best, though less handy, as long as you do not separate urine. Also when you respect an aerobic process = dispose of the bucket quickly into the compost pile, with a lot of herbal matter.

The problems seem to arrive when you stock a few buckets before emptying them all at once (if you let them go into uncontrolled fermentation).
I read here about a good fermentation process (so anaerobic), but it may not be good when you just leave the bucket alone.

At the moment I think that using a compost toilet should be a good aerobic process, or a very good anaerobic process (fermentation with added ferments), but not a sort of mix of the 2 processes without knowing what is really happening.

Natural does not mean good! And I hope I will find informations to decide how I do mine...
 
Sarah Mae
Posts: 15
Location: SE New Brunswick Canada, Zone 5a
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Well, I agree that there are more and less beneficial ways of dealing with humanure. We used a bucket toilet with everything mixed together for 7 people and then fully composted in piles. It seemed to work just fine. Its not quite as good as being nomadic and spreading it around in little individual piles, but better than some other ways. We do our best. =) Since we are not nomadic, this system seems most beneficial to me for us, although presently we are in town and using a water toilet, which I would absolutely deem a cascade of gratuitous wastage. The worst. For sure.

I wasnt replying directly to your original post, though, so I dont have any contention with the info you shared. I was just joining the discussion with a quip, really. A related thought in support of all of us finding solutions to make the best use of our internally processed food stuffs when they emerge from our part of the cycle. =)
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1841
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Sarah, I was not responding to you only, but shared a link with info that I am deceived noone seems to go an read!
 
Posts: 9
Location: Central Maine Highlands on the cool side of zone 5
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Gord Baird wrote:We have been on the bucket for seven years, and there is six of us. We have literally never had an issue with smell with either of the two bathrooms in the house. We have compartments that hold two buckets, and when the two buckets become full of both pee and poo (and shavings), then they go outside and are replaced with two more buckets. When I have ten full buckets (once a week) I open the pile and dump them. Here is a link to a video of the dumping

.

We also do a lot of research and policy work around such things, and have been able to legalize the bucket system, and have even built one at a local regional park, where we also service them. Neighbours bring their friends by just to look at the bathroom... and again no smell. The research and analysis on the compost allows us to safely ensure we can use the composted materilas on the food gardens, as well as hen I do a presentation to schoolkids or engineers, I can let them handle and smell the compost.

One key point, if you remove the urine from the bucket, you are removing the nitrogen from the system, and the composting process is less vigorous and the end product is nitrogen deficient (as studied at UBC Choi toilets that do separate). The course we teach on grey water and composting toilets has one common point... if it smells then your doing wrong - neither should ever smell.

In our home we run a 24VDC 50cfm fan which keeps the slightest of air flows through the toilet compartment - this also seconds as the bathroom exhaust fan, as well as services the whole house's demands under the building code to meet the required air changes per hour. Don't be nervous... trust what Joe Jenkins has written... everything goes into the bucket and give it plenty of cover material, more if it seems sloppy. My fovorite time of the year is when I dig into my 2 year old pile and place it in the gardens. All exciting!



Thank you so much for sharing this video.. It will ease the way for my partner who is 80% on board with this idea. I think it will push him to 100% or close enough.. Great!!



 
Posts: 407
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:Sarah, I was not responding to you only, but shared a link with info that I am deceived noone seems to go an read!



I'm reading it--excellent information, confirming what Joseph Jenkins asserts in The Humanure Handbook. I think it's awesome that the simplest solution is also the best in every way.


 
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:

http://www.eautarcie.com/en/05a.html

Urine that is not mixed to herbal materials will very quickly (few hours) change into ammonia that will oxidize into nitrates in the soil!
Apart from the size, it seems it is like spreading liquid pig manure!
If you separate urine, absolutely throw it on TOP of the compost pile, so that it mixes with cellulose.

I have also learned in this website that urine and other stuffs SEEM to do good because plants love them. But actually, it is doing the same as chemical fertilizers: it accelerate the transformation of humus. A real compost should create more humus.

I might not be good at explaining, then you can read this website, and I hope the English translation is good and the pages as complete as in French.




Thank you so much for the link. A lot of insightful reading on that sight. Priceless!
 
pollinator
Posts: 340
Location: Colville, WA Zone 5b
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Well - it's been a while since I posted this thread but I'd like to happily announce that next weekend we're moving into our off-grid cabin (we're finishing it up this weekend) and so this coming week I'm going to build a bucket toilet as per the Humanure book. I loved all the discussion in this thread! Just build my pallet compost pile this morning next to the house... we're so excited to finally be in it. Only cost us $13k plus the land to get "in" and it wil be rustic (no running water and probably no power for a couple months) but it's OURS and we can do whatever weird permie things we want without anybody breathing down our necks. Including crapping in a bucket
 
Posts: 113
Location: Central Maine
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We have a bucket toilet at my house. It is literally a bucket with a commode seat over it because we just haven't had the time to finish it. We have lids for the buckets so we can empty them a few at a time into our big compost heap, which also never smells as long as we keep it covered. We do #1 and #2 in the same bucket without any issues. We use pine shavings and some wood ash if we have any. It does fill quickly as there are 3 of us using it and one potty training child. The only thing I am in any hurry to change about it is that I would love to get rid of the commode and build a nicer seat. It works great and never smells.
 
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Sarah I built the older style Jenkins frame but from plywood with 2x4 legs. Very easy to build, quite strong and paintable if you like change. I think the plans are still available on the Humanure web site.
 
Posts: 520
Location: Northern Germany (Zone 8a)
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i want to build a kind of small bench. a bit wider than the jenkins-design. if i can fit the space i will totally go for a toilet which will allow for squatting.

using tiles as finish could look awesome

this one looks great:
 
pollinator
Posts: 597
Location: Michigan
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3 years on the bucket! Never gonna flush again. In fact i always feel bad for being stuck in a location where i need to go and there are no proper facilities. By proper and of course, i mean a place i can go to deposit my waste where these conditions are met.

1. Able to return "waste" to the enviroment as nutrient and habitat for the base of the food chain where the benifits trickle up hill to us and beyond.

2. Water conservation is honored.

3. Toilet paper is not used. It always feels wierd and makes me feel guilty to put paper in the toilet hole, much less contaminate myanus! Not the name of the town.

We do not compost wipes and prefer to use t shirts bought from thrift stores by the box for $15. If you do not use cloth as wipes, try it!
A square, slightly larger than a single toilet sheet will generally do the job and do it much better. I cannot overstate how much more effective it is over any paper including paper towel which we have also used.

A single shirt makes a several inch tall stack of wipes.

We had to be very selective about where we source t shirts, they can be heavily contaminated with fabric softener. We do not use fabric softener because it is toxic and deadly, the most toxic substance in conventional homes besides dioxin from bleach and is an uncontrolled cocktail.

The first warning was odor and smarm on hands during proscessing wipes, then the lingering wretch and headache inducing and otherwise alien (to uor household) odor in the bathroom.

The last straw was realising where the smarmy oily feeling evinced itself after use of contaminated shirts as wipes. I have the same issue with paper used for toiletry and house cleaning, soaking grease off of food...yuck.

Dioxin!!

Our recycled paper is completly cross contaminated with hazmat. So newspaper or toilet paper in compost is a no-no in our practice.

I am intending on going the organic hemp,re-usable route. Our friends use cloth diapers for both children. The ridicule and scorn was intense!

They bought a toilet mounted sprayer which i named the babe-beday (never could spell in french) and hosed them off as pre-treat before tossing into a small washing machine bought for that single purpose. Food grade peroxide and vinegar wash, beutiful!
He is also smart enough to have 3 washing machines, one for diapers, one for general laundry, and one for work clothes. She is a dental hygenist and he worked (thank goodness for past tense) in a machine shop. They decided to not cross contaminate their laundry, a huge problem at military bases also, and for obvious reasons.

You can keep the collection of nutrients in one vessel if you allow for proper evaporation of water from the mix. Study composting toilets of the mechanical store bought variety.

The store bought ones prove too pricey and fiberglassy for us. Fiberglass is remediated and banned fom our property, the next asbestos-like catastrophy is looming...its everywhere. It is detected in alarming quantity in the air and water at the most remote locations on earth, complete cross contamination of the ecosphere as with radioactive dust, chemicals and metals.

I have two identical stainless steel washer tubs from our old laundry machines. They are now tumbler components for our transition away from the bucketry. As soon as the mechanical is proven workable, we will dress it in wood and tile for a permanent solution.

We still have our flush toilet for legalities and guests, but as soon as the bucket (loveable loo) goes, so does the flusher. The pipe and water connection will stay for code compliance on resale of our home if we ever leave.

Dont misunderstand, code compliance is not our issue for resale or acceptance of any techniques used here or by anyone else, thats your business, but...men with clip-boards are accompanied by men with guns and they love to shut down homesteaders and crabs leaving the industrial monopoly bucket!

Stay above reproach while doing the right thing and walk tall, all-ways.






 
Posts: 8
Location: Northern Klamath County, OR
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I bought the Humanure hand book about 20 years ago and have done pretty much what the book says since then. I saw a lot of logs into lumber so sawdust is what I use and it works just fine. I personally don't worry about the laws on this as I don't believe in the Government telling me what I can do On my place. The one thing is Ill say that you have to replace the bucket every once in a while as it gets a rough surface on it and is harder to clean and empty.
 
Posts: 70
Location: West Virginny and Kentuck
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Here is my set-up:

https://www.instagram.com/p/ByWO-E1nQlB/

I found glazed flowerpots at Ollie's that precisely hold a 5 gallon bucket.  Son-in-law laminated the wooden deck, cut the hole precisely, and chamfered the back so it hangs on a bracket that can be mounted wherever it's wanted.  (Bedroom corner in the winter.)  

Pee bucket stays in except for morning business.  The pee bucket has a loose matching lid, and the pee gets dumped out onto heavy leaf mulch in any of the gardens every few days.  The bucket is rinsed and aired in the sun.

Poo bucket sits nearby, with an airtight flexible Saver Lid ($1.68) and a bottom layer of coarse sawdust/chips or dry leaves.  The white "tank" contains the sawdust supply and a tin cup scoop.  When this bucket is 3/4 full, it gets dumped into a heavy duty trash bin and sits cooking in the sun for a year, and then applied to garden beds.

It was important for my aesthetics to start with new buckets and in a dark color.  Lowes had them in grey the year I shopped.  The fact that they've never been used for any other purpose means smooth inside walls, very easy to swipe clean with the used/dried TP deposited in the waste basket.  The dark color means I never have unsightly splash on the walls of the bucket.

If I had it to do again, I'd ask SIL to make two decks, so I could have separate stations entirely.
 
Posts: 5
Location: Upstate New York
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Brunhilda Bierman wrote:Amelia, I love your setup!  Do you fill the bin from inside, or does it also open to an outdoor source of sawdust?

As far as this thread is concerned, I have a somewhat related question... My husband and I are eagerly planning to use a "bucket toilet" and to remove the whole concept of black water from our lives.  Then I remembered that I would like to use cloth diapers for our children...this complicates things a bit.  Does anyone here have any good suggestions for dealing with a minimal amount of black water for cleaning baby things only?  We are still in the design phase of our house, so any suggestions as to how to incorporate this would be appreciated!  At least for a while, we will likely be using a pair of galvanized wash/rinse tubs which could be "easily" diverted to a seperate drainage location when needed.





I know this thread is old but I'd like to add my 2 cents because I have recent experience with buckets, and experience with babies/diapers.

We have been on our homestead for a couple months and I set up a temporary bucket system until I can get my permanent system in, and here is what I've found:
We have a urine diverter (which slides back for pee and forward for poop) with a gallon jug it's connected to, and we cover our poo with a nice layer of compost in the bucket. I empty the urine daily (down any groundhog burrow I find--they never use that opening after that; my garden thanks me) and rinse the jug.
The poo bucket doesn't smell bad at all. The urine diverter, hose and jug stink like crazy and no amount of rinsing gets rid of the smell; it only reduces it to a less nauseating level.

As I said, this is temporary. My permanent plan is the (modified for my situation) bucket system from the Solviva book by Anna Edey, who is a frikkin genius! No smell, flushable with grey water (if flushing is desired) so even company will use it.

We (2 of us and occasional visitors) live in a travel trailer so the no-flush setup I'm about to describe works great for that. If you live in a regular house, a lower level, crawl space or basement may be needed under your bathroom depending on your home and desired level of difficulty. Here's how to do it:

For us, we remove our camper's porcelain toilet and store it. In its place I build an enclosed cabinet with a door that opens to remove  & replace the bucket, and a bin beside it for cover material which is a mix of partially composted leaves and sawdust or rich compost (which can come from your compost heap or even from fully-composted poo, which has all the right bacteria and soil life for the purpose). Actually, many materials can be used. Ground corn cobs, shredded newspaper, etc. I thought about getting one of those paper shredders that makes confetti rather than strips. I would mix it with good compost.

There is a hole in the top with a toilet seat and the whole thing closes tightly. (eliminate the spaces between cabinet top and seat bottom, and between seat and lid).

There is a hole drilled in the top of the cabinet with a hole saw into which a long hose is inserted (I cannibalized a couple old shop vacs). The hose runs up the corner of the wall, across the ceiling to the skylight which has a vent fan in it (which I will be replacing with a solar attic fan soon). The fan runs whenever there is sunlight, keeping the toilet-cabinet and bathroom smell-free.

Now for the buckets: For our system, I'll be putting drain-hole in the bottom--a pvc fitting in the bottom of each bucket with a short length of pvc pipe which will fit down into the existing hole leading to the camper's black water tank. You could do the same with your toilet hole if you have one. Some thin, soft foam insulation around the hole in the floor ensures a good seal between bucket and floor.  
The hole in the bucket is covered with 1/4" hardware cloth, then the bottom of the bucket is lined with a couple inches of hay, straw, dried grass clippings or similar to act as a pre-filter to the screen filter. Then another couple inches of shredded, partially composted leaves. These layers will filter and prevent poo down the drain hole, and remove the smell from the urine, which drains through to the black water tank.

Now, outside, near my bathroom, I will have this:
One of those big blue, poly barrels that people give away or sell cheap on Craigs, and one of the smaller poly barrels that fits inside with about 2 inches between the outside barrel & the inside one, lined with surplus insulation to keep it from freezing in the winter. The top of the inside barrel is removed and discarded, and the top of the blue barrel is removed (or cut off if necessary) and rigid insulation is cut to fit snugly in the top of the outer barrel and glued in place on the underside of the barrel top, creating a sealed, insulated pod.
On the side of the pod near the top (not through the lid, though), a hole is cut, large enough to fit the camper's sewer hose (or your drain pipe leading from your hole in the bathroom floor). The black water tank valve on the camper will be left open to drain urine directly into the inner barrel.
In the bottom of the 2 barrels is a drain hole with pvc fitting where a flexible french drain hose will attach.
The inner barrel will be about 1/3 to 1/2 filled with a mix of 1/2 composted leaves and 1/2 aged wood chips of an easily-compostable wood (so, not cedar, black locust, pressure-treated, etc), and about a pound of red worms (collect them or order them). Don't worry, it won't overfill--the worms compost and liquefy the contents so fast that you may have to ADD leaves and wood chips occasionally rather than removing anything. But if you do need to service the pod, the lid is easily removable.

We need to have the pod lower than the toilet and drain hose, consequently, the pod is buried so that the bottom of it is about 3 feet deep (no deeper) and the french drain hose is trenched in down a slope, getting gradually shallower until it is only about a foot underground (but must be heading slightly downhill the whole time so liquid will not pool in one area). The flexible hose can curve back and forth, it doesn't have to be straight as long as it maintains a slight decline in elevation. The trench is filled with a combo of  partially composted leaves and (easily compostable) wood chips, with a thick layer of wood chips on top. The path of the french drain hose should be planted with nitrogen-loving, pollinator-attracting landscaping flowers, shrubs and trees (or food plants and trees, if you believe in the purifying properties of proper composting). There will be no smell, no flies, no swampy patches, just lush growth.
If I want to cover the barrel sticking out of the earth, I can build a little cabinet of wood scraps and insulate between the cabinet & barrel for extra freeze-proofing.

Using the toilet: Pee and poo in the bucket. Pee drains to the pod outside. We have gotten into the habit of putting our toilet paper in a small trash can, which keeps the buckets from filling too fast. The trash doesn't really smell but if you want, use a lidded trash can. Empty it into the pod when it is full--the worms love paper! I'll empty our bucket into the pod at least once a week to keep the worms fed. I can rinse the bucket right over the pod; the extra water will drain away.

Depending on the size of your family, you may want a larger composting receptacle. Ms Edey's box is only about 3 feet tall by 4 feet wide and long, and it handles a flush toilet used by anywhere from 4 to 20 people (she has workshops) without overfilling or needing servicing. She built hers out of wood, lined it with garden cloth and insulated it, and it is above ground because her bathroom is on the 2nd floor so she has enough slope to leave it above ground.

To convert this to a flush toilet: remove the bucket, put your low-flow toilet back in place, route your grey water (with food particles filtered out) to the toilet tank with an overflow-prevention device (you figure that one out) that will take the excess grey water straight to the pod or some other water-using area such as the garden. Then just do your biz and flush. It all goes to the pod, the fluids drain through to the landscaping and the worms go to work on the rest.

Now to address the diaper issue: It is a little-known fact that infants are already potty-trained. They know exactly when they need to go, but we have trouble reading their signals. In less-"developed" countries, they don't use diapers at all. They observe their infants' body language and biological rhythms and merely hold the infant over a receptacle of some sort. My friend from Peru, who grew up in a family of 12 children in a mud hut in the Andes, told me they would simply hold the baby over a bucket or steel bowl, or if they were outside they would just hold them away from the trodden path, since infant poo is pretty harmless. When kids grow up not soiling themselves, they will naturally begin to communicate when they have to go and you can avoid the whole potty-training issue.
I realize that this is not practical 100% of the time in "developed" nations where we have to go to the mall etc. but it would sure cut down on diaper use at home, not to mention diaper rash, detergent, etc. You could just hold your baby over the toilet or keep a small bucket near you. If you do need to rinse diapers, you can rinse them over the opened pod. The pod doesn't smell very much when open and not at all when closed.

So that's my 2 cents, which turned into more like $2.

 
Posts: 8
Location: western Central Texas Zone 8a/8b
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Would the sawdust from the local big box home improvements stores be OK to use?  If they're cutting 'treated' wood, then the sawdust is also 'treated", correct?  Can I still use this in my bucket?
 
M Wilcox
Posts: 5
Location: Upstate New York
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Charlotte Boord wrote:Would the sawdust from the local big box home improvements stores be OK to use?  If they're cutting 'treated' wood, then the sawdust is also 'treated", correct?  Can I still use this in my bucket?



I'm not sure. I guess it would depend on the ratio of treated to non-treated wood they are cutting. If it's mostly treated, I wouldn't use it but if it's mostly untreated, I would give it a try. Anna Edey has put drain cleaner (as an experiment, not regularly) through her system without killing off her worms or plants so a little treated sawdust probably won't hurt the system. The main idea is that the sawdust be able to compost.
If you do use a small amount of treated sawdust, I would definitely not plant food plants in the leach zone because it contains arsenic and other nasty things.

Hey, it just occurred to me to wonder if coffee grounds would make a good cover material. You can get those for free at coffee shops. I think I'll try it mixed with compost.
 
Posts: 206
Location: South of Winona, Minnesota
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We've used a 2 bucket system since 1982. The buckets are side by side and there is a fan we switch on that draws air up and out the plumbing vent. Bucket #1 is uring but can have toilet paper while Bucket #2 is poo, toilet paper, and some urine. We've never washed out our buckets in all these years. We have 2 sets of buckets - when emptying leave the bucket upside down to bake in the sun or freeze dry and swap for the bucket that's been setting outside. We use rubber feed buckets from the farm supply store for pee and have switched to stainless steel stock pots for the poo after we found a couple at the Salvation Army for about $5 each. They are easier to empty as the poo doesn't stick to the sides and we do put a layer of shavings in the bottom. The pee gets dumped onto the garden compost pile and the poo is put into a covered compost bin, along with some pine shavings on top which is recyled from a winter's use in our root cellar for packing veggies. No shavings are added in the house at the time of use. The #1 Bucket is emptied every two days and the #2 Bucket is emptied every 4th day. Poultry manure/bedding is also composted in these covered bins. Our hosehold of 2 adults and 2 ducks/5 chickens fills 2 bins per year and we have 4 bins so that everything can sit for an entire year. The compost is used only on flint and sweet corn in our garden rotation. The only drawback is when we're away from home and we miss giving our daily contribution to the garden's fertility - that and the fact that regular toilets stink in comparison.
 
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The poo bucket doesn't smell bad at all. The urine diverter, hose and jug stink like crazy and no amount of rinsing gets rid of the smell; it only reduces it to a less nauseating level.

We use a mild vinegar and water rinse on our urine bucket and it seems to neutralize the urine smell.
 
pollinator
Posts: 272
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
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I've used a bucket in the deer stand. Not my fave. It gets heavy and you have to haul the sawdust up there, bring down the full bucket [I never waited until it was full, btw] then toss it on the compost pile. A lot of work for not much convenience. [We have flushies inside the house so we are not tied to an outdoor contraption.]

I am considering however installing a *movable* structure over a hole 2'X 2' X 2'deep. We live in poor sandy soil and planting trees near such a hole would stack functions: Enrich soil for the tree to be planted there next year, have a convenient toilet near the garden so you don't have to rush inside, never have to haul the shtuff. Pull the outdoor toilet to a new location with your 4 wheeler/ truck, repeat. The first year, plant hollyhocks. The second year, admire flowers.

Since it is convenient, it is probably illegal, so I'm not advocating you do that. But it could be disguised as a tool shed for gardening tools. Hooks on the outside, high under the eaves for hand tools, a rack inside to protect long handled tools. Since we are in zone 4, it would compost over the winter. It is just my husband and I, so I'm not sure how quickly it would fill, but I'll give it a try long before I try a bucket. I think the trick is to make the structure light enough to be able to drag it a few feet when full and attach a hitch and ball to pull it.
You know, in the old times, folks had a chamber pot for at night, so they didn't have to go outside, but the regular way of doing it was to have an outdoor toilet. I'm really not sure why we'd want to complicate a perfectly good system by using a bucket that may stink, be very heavy when full and then have to empty it when we could just leave it in the ground, where it will do the most good.
 
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