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Composting Toilets

 
Posts: 631
Location: NW MO
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SouthEastFarmer wrote:
this site has a system that seems very well thought out and workable.  Still involves hauling buckets, but I'm ok with that.  I'd like to figure out a way to manually shred dry leaves as the cover material...



I don't manually shred leaves, but how about drying the leaves inside a tent or shed then in a simple solar oven..then crush the leaves and run them through a 1/4 inch screen maybe.
 
                              
Posts: 47
Location: Ohio zone 4-5
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I have the infamous Sun-Mar NE composting toilet. I thought the price would have come down in the 20 years since buying it.
Zoning and the health depts haven't exactly embraced the concept, so that has kept competition at a minimum for composting toilet enterprises, no doubt.
Our county park system has recently installed a number of these at various outdoor facilities and I smell nothing from those heavily utilized CTs. The parks' installation should soften zoning's stance somewhat.
Some communities allow residents to install smaller septic systems if they have a composting toilet. 

Sun-Mar is such a simple unit, yet made with a good quality casing. Nothing has had to be replaced so far. It has a vent pipe that can come with or without a small fan. Nearby is an energy progressive Montessori farm school that has the same model as mine, yet it services all the students. 
The compost is fabulous for trees. I empty into a wheel-barrel and spread. It has out performed chicken manure, horse manure and worm castings from my experience.

It was intended for use with peat moss but I have been substituting shredded maple leaves with excellent results. I run them over with a small mower, let air dry in the sun while periodically aerating with a pitchfork. I have never sieved the assorted sizes; just don't want whole leaves because they won't prevent escaping smells. I store in extra large lidded plastic garbage cans, dipping a small coffee can in as needed for use. I have not been aware of mold or insects. The lid is necessary to prevent mice nesting.   

In the Sun-Mar type toilets the urine passes through quickly, just barely wetting the drum contents, exiting to a (french)drain. This aspect can be problematic, needing additional liquid like water to keep contents somewhat moist for effective decompostion. Too dry contents will delay the progression as will too wet.

Finally: my unit is outdoors, zone 4-5. Winter can freeze the contents so they can't be tumbled. This is when you want a drier mix; it won't work much during winter, regardless. 
Summer can present a fly problem when the balance is off from too much waste, so I add diatomaceous earth which works perfectly.   
 
ronie dee
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Yes I also use a mower (with mulching blade) to chop leaves into small pieces. It takes an amazing short time to deal with leaves this way.

I have never heard of any commercial composting toilet that was used outdoors, so i am guessing that you took a leap of faith and just tried making it work outside? Or something else? Is there any other problem with using the CT outside?

Do you use only maple leaves because that is what you have?
 
gardener
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In our area we have high groundwater issues in where I see a composting toilet might be an acceptable alternative.
They are approved for use in Oregon. What I am afraid of is that they might be prohibited in the future due to pharmaceuticals and the new list of persistant contaminants that the State DEQ has implemented.
Has anyone in other areas had or heard of either of these issues brought forward as reason not to allow their use?
 
                              
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Location: Ohio zone 4-5
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ronie wrote:

I have never heard of any commercial composting toilet that was used outdoors, so i am guessing that you took a leap of faith and just tried making it work outside? Or something else? Is there any other problem with using the CT outside?

Do you use only maple leaves because that is what you have?



My NE, made in Canada, is designed for either. To clarify, it is within its own unheated building: shed. I don't know why my wording made it appear to be setting out on my lawn, lol, sorry. It was advertised suitable for seasonal cabins, which made it attractive at the time.

Being essentially an outhouse it had to be situated 75-100' from the main building. Deep snow makes accessing it difficult in winter. I shovel a path to it and the coop which is close by. There have been as many as 5 power outages per week lately and I am happy to have it where ever it is. There are plans to move it into the house when the weather settles this year.

Other problems- occasionally the drain pipe needs clearing when using peat moss, which is so fine and dusty, tending to clog. I keep a long piece of pvc pipe with a 90 degree angle to shove into the drain pipe and blow it back into the toilet drawer area. Then I pour some water into the CT until I see it is running clear. The pipe is about 12" high coming out of the side of the structure, so drips into the french drain. I like the accessibility and visibility of this.
I haven't had to de-clog the pipe since switching to leaves.
Winter freezes the liquid, but doesn't split the pipe for some reason.

Yes, maple are abundant for me. Oak might not break down as fast, but I would use them because I have read that the best compost piles are under oak trees.  Must be something to that. I think they may settle in plate formation in the drum as opposed to maple which seems fluffier. In that case I'd chop them more fine.

The building (shed) needs air from some source for the CT to work and draft through the vent. The door has a 3/4" gap between the bottom and the floor for this. In hindsight I would have made a cutout like the moon sliver and nailed on screen over it instead due to mice.
As a matter of fact, my TP dispenser is a wood box with hinged door so mice can't shred it for nests. So yeah, there are adjustments to be made for outdoors like any well maintained outhouse.  
 
ronie dee
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No i kinda figured you had an outhouse around it. It's just that years ago i looked into a Clivus Multrum CT and it required a certain amount of temp in order to work right  - so it wouldn't work for the app that i wanted.  So today I looked at the Sun Mar site and looked around some, but still didn't see any like your NE that was situated away from the house without heat.. (I may have not looked in the right place.)

Have you ever considered using a simple solar oven to heat your aged compost and then use on food plants?
 
                              
Posts: 47
Location: Ohio zone 4-5
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I agree that it has limited applications in unheated buildings. However, the drum and drawer are pretty big and will tolerate light winter use. I have a window wall on the south side that helps in all but the coldest sustained days of winter. The small building is insulated, but still requires the air intake, so the insulating factor is offset somewhat.

Nix/nada on food plants; a family member who also uses the CT is on many heavy duty medications so I wouldn't be comfortable dousing vegetables with the compost. I would use it to give nut or fruit tree seedlings a boost short term, esp pretreated with a solar oven! Thanks for the idea!

I looked for the original literature and owners manual for you but it must still be packed in a box somewhere. If I find it I'll post what it says.
 
                                    
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When I was investigating this topic back last fall, I downloaded Jenkins' free PDF file on his book. It was quite informative, and seemed to cover all the issues. I followed his lead, and built my own wood frame to fit around a 5 gallon bucket. Spent about $50 on wood and stain cause I wanted it to look half-way decent and appealing.

I spent about $15 for a 50 lb. bag of rabbit feed. I throw about 3 handfuls of that in the empty bucket, and then add a couple or 3 big handfuls of shredded newspaper that I carry home from work that would get thrown in the trash. I bought one of those $39 shredders from WalMart that cuts the paper in crosscuts so that they are fairly small. This is to serve as absorbent material so nothing is standing at bottom of bucket. Then after each use, a handful of pellets are put on pooh, and then a couple of handfuls of shredded newspaper on put on top of that and then I compress down a little. It takes me about one week to almost fill it. During that time there is practically no smell in the room except when you first open it, and even then it is only a faint smell that is not bad, but more of the smell of the rabbit feed, the alfalfa I guess.

At the end of that week, each Sunday, I carry that bucket, which probably weighs about 10 lbs most out to a compost pile prepared especially for this. I first put down about a foot of chopped leaves and aged compost, along with some old hay. I dump this bucket on top of the pile, add whatever food scraps we've collect for the week, and then add several inches of chopped leaves/hay on top of that. I never notice any odor except when dumping the bucket, and that is only minimal. The pellets by this time have absorbed a lot of the pooh, and it doesn't smell quite the same.  I clean and rinse out the bucket with boiling water and soap, and let dry for three weeks. I use a fresh bucket for the next week. I have four buckets, and rotate each week.

I've done this for 3 months now, and have been quite surprisingly pleased. It's no big deal. The pile I will accumulate till it gets to top of the 4-5 foot frame I built out of pallets, and then after that I will let sit and compost for an additional year, like he says to in the book. In the book he shows a lot of research that suggests that practically all, if not all of the bad guys are destroyed in the compost pile within 2 weeks or less, but is super cautious about it and lets it compost for total of 2 years before applying to the garden.

The foot of dry carbon material underneath the pile to start off, and the generous carbon both in the bucket, and that you add on the pile after each dumping should absorb all the urine, and not allow seepage into the ground I would think. I have never had extra urine to simply drip out of the bucket when I dump it. It is all absorbed into the shredded newspaper  by the time I dump it.

I would encourage anyone to get and read the book to check up on this method. That is my take on it. It seems effective, and safe.
 
ronie dee
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Yeah David, I read the pdf Humanure Handbook and i was impressed with Jenkins too.  SO do you use a thermometer and check the temp? I would add a couple of changes and also for those who still are leery to put on garden, they could run it through a simple solar oven and get 190 degrees easily and kill anything that they might think is left.

 
                                    
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No, Ronie, I have not. This winter has had so much rain, that all I've cared to do the times I've been out is to get the work done, and get back in. Now that it is starting to warm up I do plan on monitoring the temps. I will be curious if it is able to get as high as my horse manure compost piles. They routinely get up to 170-180 degrees during the hottest phase. I somehow doubt the humanure pile will get that high. But, even at 130 degrees, 90% of the pathogens are destroyed within 2 weeks or less. I was surprised at the quick time frame. So, I think that 2 years is a very conservative time frame to let the microbes do their thing.
 
ronie dee
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Wasn't Jenkins getting a higher temp than 130?  Also could you add horse in with humanure and get the higher temps?
 
                                    
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Yeah, I think he mentioned in the 140's or even 150 as a peak. I only mentioned 130 because his point was that even at that "low" a temperature most of the bad guys were destroyed within a relatively short period of time compared to letting it compost for up to 2 years as he advocates in his book. The emphasis being to indicate how cautious he is trying to be and how relatively safe the process is. I would imagine that horse manure, being a "hotter" manure would raise those temps. Even hotter would be poultry manure.
 
steward
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Not sure if this is the best thread for this (re-directs welcome!):

Urine Separating No-Mix Toilet for municipal separated sewage. Amazing!

 
                      
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Is it possible to cut the sawdust with maybe soil or shredded newspaper? I would imagine a mix of that could be beneficial.
 
                              
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My girlfriend and I have been using the humanure system for a year and it works perfectly. I almost guarantee anyone who reads the Humanure handbook that it will make a convert of them.

We don't always piss in the system - we usually pee outside or, this past winter, we had a piss bucket inside that I threw into the woods to return to the nutrient cycle.

This looks like it could be a promising book on the subject: http://www.amazon.com/Liquid-Gold-Logic-Using-Plants/dp/0966678311/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271118527&sr=1-3
 
                
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Location: Texas
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I have been doing humanure composting and I see no issues with it other than the fact that at the very time I want to relax I have to go dump poop..

So I am working on building a long term composting toilet to get my change out down to every 20 years..  Then I can drag out the container and drop a new on in.

Take a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4XRDYnIf0U&feature=related

The main thing is to have a container that can hold a years volume of input x 3+ years.



 
pollinator
Posts: 1178
Location: Green County, Kentucky
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I grew up with outhouses, and hated them -- we didn't know then about the need for adding organic matter for carbon.  I read the Humanure Handbook maybe ten years ago, or close to that, and then when we had a broken drain pipe, we used a sawdust toilet for about a year until we were able to get the drain pipe repaired.  I was pleasantly surprised -- we kept it in the house, in the bathroom, and had little if any odor from it (usually right after my now-ex brought a bucket back in that he'd just dumped, instead of leaving it outside to bleach in the sun for a while!).  We had three adults using it, most of the time, and it needed to be emptied every couple of days. 

At this point, I would have no hesitation about going back to using a sawdust toilet -- as long as I can get enough carbonaceous material for the system to work.  In fact, it would actually work better for us than a regular toilet, because my mentally-handicapped DD will sometimes sit in the bathroom and flush the toilet over and over.  I don't know if she just likes the sound it makes, or what (she's autistic).  She also stops the toilet up on a fairly regular basis, and then pesters me with "Mom!  Problem!" until I go fix it, LOL!  The sawdust toilet wouldn't keep her from going through the toilet paper way faster than is really necessary, but it would save a lot on water and some on the electric bill (since we have a well). 

Kathleen
 
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Location: Bulgaria
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I am not an expert, but some comments:
- The poo does not smell very much if the pee is separated from it.
- Saw-dust takes the smell away within seconds, but I think that conferious wood, pine and spruce, is better, but I do not know how these woods with resin effects the end-product, the compost?
- I saw myself mainly birch, but has never had an opportunity to test birch saw-dust alone.
- In our country we will have a law about water-toilets 2014. Now the firms are selling all kind of gadgets and Gizmos that has got the approval. They cost between 7.000 - 14.000 € with the work done. Never mind my feelings about this kind of money thrown at the poo.

I have thought it could be solved like this:
- Making a 'pool' that is made of stones and lime. 70 cm high, 1,4 meter broad and the length of 3 - 4 meter. The pool does not leak if it is made properly.
- Put on the bottom all kind of scrapwood, saw-dust etc.
- In spring-time emptying the buckets (that are frozen in the winter and do not smell), into the basin/pool. Need a lot of buckets, but that will not be a problem as we have some painting industry that gives very big "buckets" for free. They are plastic and clean.
- When the basin is filled with poo that has a lot of saw-dust in it, then put there leaves and whatever is at hand. After that put some 10 - 15 cm of earth and the roses growing.

There is one problem: The mixture needs oxygen. I have thought I will construct a small windmill, with a pump, (found in old cars), and a hose that I have put on the bottom of tha basin.
The next summer I need to make a new basin, and maybe a third one, but then I have the garden levelled up 70 cm when I am old and can't bend myself so well.
And in my eyes, natural stone-walls are nice-looking too. The problem is with the lime; it is not so ecological as the industry use a lot of energy when they make it, but not so much as the cement industry use.

- I have to think a little bit more about this. Maybe I should make the masonry-work on the solid rock, and thus I can see if the basin is leaking?
- Then there is the question about getting rid of water before winter-time as the bottom part of the basin can break, if there is much water and the ice will damage my masonry. Probably I have to make a tap on the bottom, so that I can tap out the water?
- I like the thought of worms as well, but I think that they can't survive, if they can't go deep into the earth when the winter is coming? Or how do they live through winter in minus 20 C?


Henry
 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
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One thing I meant to mention in my post above, and forgot -- it's best if the compost pile that receives the contents of the bucket or composting toilet is covered, so rain can't leach the nutrients away.  Here in Oregon, it's also required to be waterproof, so the contents can't contaminate the water table.

Kathleen
 
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Check out Joseph jenkins book: the Humanure Hand book - it's a free down load online!  It gives you the full low down on thermophilic composting toilets- not to be confused with outhouses.  It's a great book full of everything you could ever want to know about composting toilets!

http://www.humanurehandbook.com/

http://weblife.org/humanure/default.html
 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
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merlinuhl wrote:
Check out Joseph jenkins book: the Humanure Hand book - it's a free down load online!  It gives you the full low down on thermophilic composting toilets- not to be confused with outhouses.  It's a great book full of everything you could ever want to know about composting toilets!

http://www.humanurehandbook.com/

http://weblife.org/humanure/default.html



I have a copy of the book (actually my second copy).  It's a good one, all right. 

Kathleen
 
                              
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Just joined this forum.  Was surprised that the Solviva bio-carbon filter was not mentioned here.  This is what I would like to have.  Convenience, with slight modification of existing plumbing, yet a more sound way of handling human wastes.   Earthworms are a big part of this system.  With a water catchment system, even the flush would be sustainable.  I once saw a video where a guy had piped rain water to his toilet.

http://www.solviva.com/wastewater.htm 

Scroll down to find the bio-carbon filter, but there is more info as well.

riverblue
 
                                      
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Save your money and build your own!  I think it's outrageous how much money Sunmar et al charge for their composting toilets seeing as the molds were made 20 years ago and have seen little to no changes in design since then.  Also, as Jenkins points out, they are not really "composting" toilets but rather they are "moldering" toilets as they rarely reach thermophylic temperatures. 

Also, if your main goal in using a composting toilet is to reduce your impact and save money on sewer hook ups and/or the cost of a septic system, humanure is safe to use on non-food crops in as little as 6 months to a year.

In terms of simplicity, ease of use, and minimizing run-ins with "the man" (because you're containing your leachate) this toilet system is one of the best http://www.omick.net/composting_toilets/current_toilet.htm I've seen yet.  It's what I use myself, and most of the composting toilet systems that we build in the villages my nonprofit serves use this as the base design.  We've built over a hundred of them now. Total cost: less than $100 and maybe 6-8 hours of labor depending upon where it's built. I like Jenkin's multi-pallet/bin piles system, but leachate is not contained that way, and that could result in some pretty heavy duty fines if the county inspectors were ever to stick their noses into it.

NP
 
Henry Bjorklid
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Nonprophet wrote:
Save your money and build your own!  I think it's outrageous how much money Sunmar et al charge for their composting toilets seeing as the molds were made 20 years ago and have seen little to no changes in design since then. 
<snip>


I went through your instructions. Very good.
I have one question about this, but let me first explain my own views on publishing this or that.

As I publish something, or my friends publish, we put them under the Creative Commons license found here:
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/1.0/fi/deed.en_US
which means;
You are free to:
    * to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work
    * to Remix — to adapt the work

Under the following conditions:
    *Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
    *Noncommercial — You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
    *Share Alike — If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

[center]______________________[/center]

This we do, as we think that it is great to make a personal contribution for the mankind, in acting as sustainable as possible.
And, here is my point, it is even more giving to share the information, as then many other people has the chance, as they get the information how-to, to live a more sustainable life.

Needless to say, but we are all living on this same planet and there is no Planet B, nor "New Game"-button, when the final "Game Over"-sign has been lighted.
Well, as a matter of fact, I do not believe we ever come to that, but sometimes when I stand at a street-corner watching people and their behaviour in the light of all the commercial lights blinking in the city, I begin to wonder...

Anyhow, I would like to translate your texts to Finnish, maybe also to Swedish and publish them here: http://provillage.wordpress.com With your name and all that jazz.
I would also send you the PDF-files or in whatever form you want them, so that you could also publish these translations at your pages. Two is more than one. 

Anyway, thank you for your enlightening pages.

Henry
 
                                      
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HenryFinland wrote:
I went through your instructions. Very good.
I have one question about this, but let me first explain my own views on publishing this or that

Henry



HI Henry,

Thanks for your reply.  The Omick.net link that I provided is NOT my website or information--I was just providing a link to the site for others to see as an example of a very simple, low-cost, and effective style of composting toilet.  So, if you wanted to use the information you would need to contact the owner of that website--if memory serves me correctly his name is Dave or David, very nice man!

I have my own designs and photos from composting toilets that we've built, but as of yet that information is not published on the web anywhere because I haven't made the time to do it.

I agree that sharing information is very important, and I'm glad to see you taking the effort to do so!!

NP
 
                                      
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Regarding "bulking agents" (what to add to a humanure/compost toilet to minimize odor and create airspace for drying material) I've found wood stove ash and peat moss to be the most effective.  Ash is usually free (if you have a wood stove) and a $9 bag of peat moss lasts me a whole year.  The peat moss does an exceptionally good job of masking any odors.

I personally do not like using wood chips or sawdust at all as I find that they absorb the liquid and stay damp which leads to stronger odors--especially pine and cedar.  Chips and sawdust also break down verrrrrry slowly in the compost bin, whereas ash and peat moss break down very quickly.


NP
 
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[font=Verdana]Add Microorganisms[/font] to your composting toilet!!!

For those of you who'd rather not store large quantities of humanure, and who'd like to see those nutrients made available again sooner than later:


    Use a separate toilet for poop.  Sprinkle essential microorganisms (e.g. EM-1) every couple of days.   Once a month, remove the catchment container you're using and set it aside to cook/reduce with the EM, and it will decompose to sterile , rich, fertile black powder in a few months instead of 2 years. 

EM-1:  http://shopping.netsuite.com/s.nl/c.471963/sc.2/category.5/.f


Remember that urine is sterile (unless you have a kidney infection)  so dilute with 10 parts water to 1 part urine and pump directly under your garden early in the season for greening, but not late in the season or the excess N will make fruits less palatable.
 
                                      
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Seth Pogue wrote:
ADD MICROORGANISMS to your composting toilet!!!

   Use a separate toilet for poop.  Sprinkle essential microorganisms (e.g. EM-1) every couple of days.   Once a month, remove the catchment container you're using and set it aside to cook/reduce with the EM, and it will decompose to sterile , rich, fertile black powder in a few months instead of 2 years. 

EM-1:  http://shopping.netsuite.com/s.nl/c.471963/sc.2/category.5/.f



Seth,

While the addition of essential organisms might aid in breaking down the humanure quicker, it will do nothing to reduce exposure to harmful pathogens like hookworms!  You suggest "cooking" the compost, but fail to mention for how long and at what temperature.  I know you're just trying to help, but your post is short on specifics related to pathogen mortality and could cause people to get very ill from improperly treating and handling humanure.

Even once thermophyllic temperatures are reached, Jenkins and others suggest waiting at least a year and preferable two before applying humanure to food crops--this is to allow sufficient time to ensure pathogen mortality.

NP
 
                                    
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Paul,

After using a composting toilet for eight months in the winter (pee in same container) and having to empty the 5 gal container about once a month, I'm way less squeemish about moving raw human manure than I was at the beginning.

We're taught through all of our ad media to appreciate sterilzed to death living spaces instead of live living spaces... so I can appreciate your aversion to transporting human shit (bet you ain't so scared of chicken shit are you? bet you move that without a second thought don't you?) 

-but, I am still lazy and I don't even like monthly trips.

I came up with a composting toilet design based on the Human Manure Project's composting instruction.

This design requires one to remove compost (notice the word compost and not raw human manure) only once a year;

Downside:  It requires a lot of floor space.

Design: 
-calculate cubic space needed per year for your toilet 
        (about 12 ft3/per person/year)  some of us are more fulla shit than others!;
-Create three stantions each capable of holding the calculated cubic space and a urine collection basin/plumbing;
-locate the three stantions on an outside wall so that the composted material can be removed WITHOUT CARRYING IT THROUGH THE HOUSE via a shovel or front end loader;
-make three outside access doors for the corresponding three inside stantions. The doors should open upwards vertically rather than swinging horizontally left or right;
-Have three removable tops for the three stantions, one of those removable tops have a toilet lid on it;
-Add three urine collection basins, plumbing to tie it to a urine barrel for later water dilution;
-construct a brown material basket (dry straw, pine needles, sawdust, etc)  for you to throw dried brown material on top of each usage;
-optionally construct a dry grass basket in replace toilet paper if you're really bold;
-construct a small foot pedal operated handwash station (use sand and white ash if you're located in a desert without water).

Operation:
-crap, wipe, throw dried brown material down one stantion (that has the removable top with the toilet lid/seat fixed to it);
-wash hands in hand wash station;
-go outside every three months, lift the access panel to the current stantion up and level out the pile;
-Fill up Stantion #1 the first year;
-Fill up Stantion #2 the second year;
-Fill up Stantion #3 the third year;
-Remove composted material from Stantion #1 the fourth year and use Stantion #1 as active toilet;
-Remove composted material from Stantion #2 the fifth year use Stantion #2 as active toilet;
-Remove composted material from Stantion #3 the fifth year use Stantion #3 as active toilet;
-Continue this cycle until you can't poop any more and pass it on to your kids!


 
Seth Pogue
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Hi Nonprophet-

In order to make this a post and not an article, I intentionally provided only a brief overview of the process.  I'd hoped that interested readers would initiate further discussion.  I don't consider this a "failure."

By "cooking" I simply meant the natural alchemical transformation from poop to black powder.
Since hookworm eggs and larvae die within 5 minutes in temperatures above 50 degrees C (120 degrees F)

http://books.google.com/books?id=IM8UAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA192&lpg=PA192&dq=hookworm+eggs,+temperature&source=bl&ots=ZUc295YGnM&sig=lfJ0WWXzyLklOKUeItaOhMusJaQ&hl=en&ei=0t7eS6efNI3gNYO7xYsI&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CBsQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=hookworm%20eggs%2C%20temperature&f=false

all that needs to be done once the humanure has reduced to black powder is to place it in the middle of a nice hot decomposing compost pile.

Best
Seth
 
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Amadou wrote:
Summer can present a fly problem when the balance is off from too much waste, so I add diatomaceous earth which works perfectly.   



The DE eliminates the flies? 

What else does the DE do?

 
paul wheaton
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DanDMan wrote:
So I am working on building a long term composting toilet to get my change out down to every 20 years..  Then I can drag out the container and drop a new on in.



I wonder ....  with a system like that .... I wonder if it is possible that you might never need to empty it.  Organic matter keeps breaking down and breaking down and eventually becomes nothing but gasses.

One might say that they wouldn't do it this way because they want to return the nutrients to the earth.  But!  Never fooling with might be another possible path.

 
Henry Bjorklid
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Poo is good.
Poo is a resource.

Poo-plan

I aim, whenever our village will be ready, to put a sign at the road "Poo at our place and you get a cup of coffee for free!" Of course I sell people some homebaked and get back the 5 - 10 cents a cup of coffee costs.
But that is not the plan.
The plan is that of course the authorities comes and tells me that this kind of "poo-ad" is not legal. I ask which law they refer to an fight back. Naturally the media hooks on this kind of story.
The plan is to get free advertisement. 

See, poo is a resource also outside your garden.

Nonprophet!

I got a permission from David to use his texts as i translate his texts to Finnish and also to use his photographs.


Henry
 
paul wheaton
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Nonprophet wrote:
Regarding "bulking agents" (what to add to a humanure/compost toilet to minimize odor and create airspace for drying material) I've found wood stove ash and peat moss to be the most effective.  Ash is usually free (if you have a wood stove) and a $9 bag of peat moss lasts me a whole year.  The peat moss does an exceptionally good job of masking any odors.

I personally do not like using wood chips or sawdust at all as I find that they absorb the liquid and stay damp which leads to stronger odors--especially pine and cedar.  Chips and sawdust also break down verrrrrry slowly in the compost bin, whereas ash and peat moss break down very quickly.



I seem to recall reading somewhere that adding ash or lime is not a good idea.  It cuts the smell but also stops the microbes from working.

I think peat might not be a good idea either.  Too acidic.

I think that some varieties of sawdust are going to work much better than others.  I think cottonwood or poplar would work five times better than any conifer.



 
paul wheaton
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twobirdstone wrote:

-Create three stantions each capable of holding the calculated cubic space and a urine collection basin/plumbing;
-locate the three stantions on an outside wall so that the composted material can be removed WITHOUT CARRYING IT THROUGH THE HOUSE via a shovel or front end loader;



This sounds very similar to the system at the homestead.  I have video of it!  I guess I should post it!
 
pollinator
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Hi Paul, you're talking about Mountain Homestead?

Their toilet rooms were pleasant places to be, and seemed easy maintenance too. But when I took the PDC there, the buckets were definitely overwhelmed, and not so nice by the end of the 10-day course. Several days in, Tom Ward put some worms in the buckets, but, not surprisingly, no one noticed any esthetic improvement in the short time remaining for the course.

I am interested in the pros/cons of using 5-gallon buckets vs 55-gallon barrels as collection receptacles. The barrel systems seem nice because it takes longer to fill them. But it also seems like you'd need to take care to install aeration systems in the barrels. Anyone have an experience-based comment?





 
paul wheaton
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jacqueg wrote:
Hi Paul, you're talking about Mountain Homestead?



Yes!  The one in coquille, oregon.

 
                                      
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jacqueg wrote:
I am interested in the pros/cons of using 5-gallon buckets vs 55-gallon barrels as collection receptacles. The barrel systems seem nice because it takes longer to fill them. But it also seems like you'd need to take care to install aeration systems in the barrels. Anyone have an experience-based comment?



We use a 5 gallon plastic bucket in our "toilet box" which one persons fills in about a week.  I then empty that into a 55 gallon plastic barrel.  I created a 3" space in the bottom of the barrel for leachate, and then I run a 2" abs pipe drilled will many holes in it from the very bottom to the near top of the barrel.  This captures all of the leachate, and also allows for it to evaporate while simultaneously letting the barrel contents dry.  With one person using the barrel, I've just about filled one barrel after one year of use--every couple of weeks I rock the barrel vigorously back and forth which makes the contents settle even more as the composted material compresses.

I should note that I use my toilet system as an alternative to a septic system and I do not apply the humous to food crops--though after two years it should be safe to do so.

NP
 
                                      
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paul wheaton wrote:
I seem to recall reading somewhere that adding ash or lime is not a good idea.  It cuts the smell but also stops the microbes from working.

I think peat might not be a good idea either.  Too acidic.

I think that some varieties of sawdust are going to work much better than others.  I think cottonwood or poplar would work five times better than any conifer.



Paul,

In his book, Jenkins recommends peat moss as a bulking agent.  In our experience, if you mix wood ash with other bulking agents so that no more than 1/4 of the total is wood ash, there is no negative effect on the microbes.  I can confirm that pine/fir sawdust/chips work very poorly in a compost toilet system.  We find peat moss, straw, and ash to work best--very low cost (one $9 bag of peat moss per person per year, one $5 bale of straw per person per two years, and free wood ash) and they really help control odors.

NP
 
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About 30 years ago, when I first started getting serious about learning homesteading, I decided to build the "Superhuman Composter". I started with the dimensions I found in a California publication on outhouses and composters. It suggested 1 cubic yard for each of two chambers, one for use and the other for composting. But I wanted it to get warmed by sunshine and circulate solar-heated dry air, ending with a solar-pumped thermo-syphoning vent pipe. I built it all out of half-inch plywood, coated with the same epoxy paint I was using as a bicycle frame-builder.

I built it into a large greenhouse attached to a semi-underground house I was building. Its front face was a two chamber solar air heater. Sunlight passed through Kalwall glazing, across a 2-inch airspace, and onto a black-painted metal sheet. There was another 2-inch airspace behind that, followed by the inner wall of the composter. So air was solar heated in both air-spaces. The front airspace drew cool indoor air in at floor level, heated it, and it exited into the top of the composting bins.  The rear air-space drew in air from lots of 3/4" PVC tubes that ran under and up around the compost piles on the side away from the solar collector. It drew in the warm moist air that the front airspace pumped in. The rear airspace led to an insulated duct that went through the roof. Bottom line: it worked too well! Composting happened really quickly and I actually had to water the compost periodically.

A few years later I decided maybe this was overkill. Since the Humanure Handbook didn't exist yet, we came up with something much simpler which can be seen at this link: http://www.geopathfinder.com/ASimpleBucketSystemForHumanWastes.pdf

Bob.

 
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