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Bucket Toilet - 3 per week

 
Posts: 153
Location: Northern Wisconsin
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Just started using bucket toilet like the humanure handbook this week. Already filled it twice. My family has two adults and one toddler.

Is our dry medium too coarse?

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Location: Otago, New Zealand
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It doesn't look too coarse to me, but the bag says it is super compressed and expands to over twice the size. I think that's more likely to be the issue, especially if all household pee is going into the bucket. Do you have something else you can trial for the cover material?

How big is your bucket? How much cover material are you using each time?

One thing that doesn't get discussed a lot is that different humans produce different amounts of waste depending on what they eat and drink and their metabolism. So if it turns out not to be a cover material issue, a better measurement might be how many times is the toilet being used each day by the adults for pee and for poo? Pee can fill a bucket fast. When I'm peeing solely into the compost system I prefer to have a separate pee bucket (20L bucket hald filled with sawdust, using sawdust to cover, no toilet paper is put in this).
 
pollinator
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We're also a family of two adults and a toddler using a bucket system, and we also fill a 5 gal bucket every 2.5 days or so. We've spread out the timing a bit by adding a second bucket in our front bathroom.

We started with similar wood shavings from the feed store, then switched to a load of finer sawdust that we had trucked in. We didn't really see a difference in the speed the bucket filled, maybe a tiny bit...

Sorry, no real advice here, but I think your usage is pretty normal.
 
Travis Halverson
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@Rose- We use about a handful of cover material. More for big pee or poop. I'm interested in diverting urine in the future. I pee outside mostly still, may pee indoors more when it's 20 below.
 
Travis Halverson
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@Roberta- Thanks. It seemed unusual at first because most people say two adults fill a five gallon bucket in a week.

I'm still pleased with the process so far. It beats the price of a septic system.
 
Mother Tree
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I find the amount of buckets that my family use varies tremendously. I use more when I menstruate. Even when I don't I still think that I use more than the two boys put together. It's possible the toddler poops/pees more frequently, so that's more handfuls of cover-material being used.

Also, as someone else mentioned, that bale is compressed. If I have to buy baled, then I decant some into a smaller bucket, loosening it up well as I do so. It covers much better that way, I use a lot less, and it doesn't stay in great big space-wasting lumps.
 
Travis Halverson
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Thanks. The bale is compressed, but we scrape it loose before scooping some with a cup.
 
pollinator
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I don't see anyone talk about this (it is one of THOSE topics), but...

Your gut biology make a HUGE impact to the volume of #2. Two people eating the same meal, one could have ten times the volume of waste. I had a 4 YO that could have filled a bucket by herself in a day. We rebalanced her gut biology and it is much better now.

You will become more attuned to your gut health because you will have such intimate knowledge of what is coming out, if you pay attention.

 
Travis Halverson
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I never considered that. But all three of us take probiotic supplements. We are mostly filling with pee and cover material, not poop.

Emptying and rinsing the bucket has been quick and easy though. Even with no running water.
 
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Location: Planet Earth, Europe, Upper Silesia
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I'm just wondering if it energetically sustainable to use the compressed shavings.
How much energy it takes to compress them and whether it is paid back by energy usage caused by less frequent transportation
.
Are you not able to find a source of clippings which would allow you to use multiuse bags?
 
Travis Halverson
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Good question. I haven't looked. If the company that compresses, bags, and ships these shavings can do it so cheap that I pay $6 for one, they must be pretty efficient with their energy use.

I'm not very interested in sustainability, or just being "not dead" like Paul W says.

I purchased this compressed wood from a mercantile shop 10 minutes from my place and they offer other items I may purchase like bales of hay, and split wood for burning if I don't have enough cured by next winter. I'm unsure how many people the mercantile employs, but if I buy some stuff from them, it helps their business make money and they can hire more clerks who make money too.
 
Roberta Wilkinson
pollinator
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I had a thought last night: Could the two adults filling one bucket a week figure be based on both adults working outside the home, so they're only using the bucket morning and night?

To fill a single bucket per week, some quick math shows that each adult could only deposit about 41 ounces of waste and woodchips per day (leaving a little room at the top). That's two and a half pint glasses. With both of us here full time, I'm pretty sure we couldn't make it a week on a single bucket even if we completely left out the woodchips.
 
Travis Halverson
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I think that's it!

I never considered that. I work outside of the home part time, my wife and son work and play at the home full time.

People who make the bucket a week claim probably have work away, like you said, or use urine diversion.

Nice.
 
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Sorry to jump in late, missed it earlier. I consider your material too coarse. One 5 gal bucket per adult per week full time use is about right for us. Might be a bucket every 6 days. You appear to have too coarse a material and that combined with being new to covering is probably why you are getting more buckets.
 
Travis Halverson
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I am new to covering. Correct me where I'm wrong.

In the bottom of a clean bucket, I dump about an inch of the material I use (see pic above).

I put a handful of loose material in bucket after urinating. I have smaller hands, it's about one cup of material.

I put all the cover material it takes to cover poop. Sometimes this takes 3 or 4 cups.

I imagine that with a fiber material, poop gets covered with less bulk.

You say a bucket per week per adult. If I calculate it that way, we are at about a bucket per six days per adult. Maybe 6.5 or seven days if I factor in my toddler's use.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Buckets per week sound about right, maybe a bit too much cover some of the time but it probably evens out. Covering doesn't have to be deep, works best with fine material and a cup with a light shaking action as it is poured. Practice practice practice and you end up quite good at it. I rarely put less than a cup in but it is distributed where it needs to be.
 
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Another option for fill/cover material is wood pellets for pellet stoves. They are made from "waste" sawdust. A 40 pound bag runs 5 or 6 dollars. They absorb moisture well and expand a lot when they get wet.


They also make for fantastic litter for pet/indoor rabbits.

 
Travis Halverson
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Thanks Wyatt and Troy.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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I think I will buy a bag and see but from what I have heard of pellets I expect they are better at soaking up liquids than covering solids. Run them through a grinder and they should be good for both.
 
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hey travis ...

i read that your are intrested in diverting the urine. have you considered building a urinal-type for the men? to pee while standing?

It could be just as simple as a huge automobile funnel mounted to a wall and draining into a container or watering can...

that might start to save some material and work...

be blessed

tobias
 
Travis Halverson
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Tobias,

I don't have space to add a urinal. Our bathroom is small. We have a toilet, small sink, pressure tank for water well, and shower in there.

I saw a video from an urban setting where Laura Allen diverted urine from the toilet to a container under the house.

Though if I used that system here, it would freeze.
 
Tobias Ber
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hey travis,

thanks for your answer.

i do not know anything about your house. do you own land? do you have a garden?

are you composting like in the humanure handbook?

would you be able to run a pipe for urine outside?


with urine diversion you would have to consider that the humanure handbook says to compost the whole stuff (including urine). without that you might not be able to get the compost HOT enough to process it safely (kill pathogens in the poo). but there will be things one can to to get the compost pile hot enough even without the urine. and/or just give it more time to rot.

would freezing the urine outside of the house be a bad thing? i am not sure. what if you could use open, wide containers (like these huge black tubs for mixing mortar/concrete). the liquid would come in small amounts, so it might build up in layers and the ice might not break the container. i am no expert on this, but it might work.

it would be quite easy to install urine diversion (funnel and flexible pipe) into your existing toilet.
 
pollinator
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We use fine sawdust from a local sawmill, rather than shavings. The few times I have had to use shavings have been disappointing - you use far more of it than needed. Fine dust seems to cover more easily without wastage.
 
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Alright, I was always confused at this -1 bucket a week- statement in the humanure handbook. No WAY would a bucket last that long.

We use new sawdust from a wood shop combined with aged sawdust from a closed mill.

I used to always cover every time I was going to pee, covering enough to not see toilet paper. Now, I use my baby's cloth wipes, and I don't cover anymore for pees.

We fill a bucket every second day - my partner is very particular about his ratios, and we do batch composting (empty them out when we have 12 full buckets), so sometimes he switches them out early and fills it up with cover. BUT, after about 6 months, the pile is ready. Like ready to be on the garden, fill your nose full of acitobactor beautiful earth smell, crumble in your hand (with hay fragments) kind of ready. So we don't complain. There is an instinct in his gut, and my partner, the microbial herdsman, doesn't mind filling a bucket every 2 days.

We also have a kitchen bucket, for everything food related.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Rachel I think for us the number of buckets is slightly higher than the handbook estimate, maybe 1.25 a week but that is per person so we are running about 2.5 buckets total per week. With the cat litter added in we fill about one more per week. If you are running one every two days for two adults you are about 75 per cent higher than the handbook but it is a guide not an absolute. Are your buckets 5 gal/ 20 liters and do you fill to the top?
 
Rachel Dee
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Wyatt, no, not right to the top, I don't like the poop piling up under my bum LOL. The buckets are 5 gallons.

I just don't understand how 1.25-2.5 buckets a week is possible. How do you cover your poops? Barely? Does it make a mound in the middle?

This is probably the part that fills up ours - if it's an uneven top, he adds material until it's even. Anyway, he's been doing it for 15 years, me for 5 years, and we don't really find it a problem - we just end up with a lot of compost. Perfect for us!
 
Wyatt Barnes
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I wouldn't level each time, it tends to even out over the day. I have been known to rotate the pail or give it a leveling rocking if necessary but I have only done that a couple of times. I did mean that we fill 2.5 pails every week without kitty litter and now we are probably at 3.5 pails a week with it. If you don't mind the compost or hauling in the cover then there is no problem.
 
Rachel Dee
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Maybe that's it - I have 2-3 bowel movements in a day, my partner has 3-4, and baby has 2-3 little ones. Even with rocking, there's no way that amount of poop cannot fill up a bucket quickly.

We're mostly plant-based.
 
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I've been using my new test toilet for about a month to see how it goes. I was also surprised at how fast it fills up. I think the main issue is that after a poo, you have to cover the deposit very thoroughly with cover material in order to avoid orders. Toilet paper seems to be the issue, as the bunched up pieces take a lot of material to cover.

BTW, I use a mulching sawdust that I get from my local landscape supply company and it only costs $9 for half a yard (or $13 for a full yard), which I imagine would be infinitely less expensive than those bags you are buying.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Covering lightly should work if the cover material is fine enough. A shaking motion is needed with a modest sized cover container. We use an old enamel coffee mug. This promotes a lighter covering and if more is needed then a second or part second cup can be used. With accurate covering less material has to be acquired and hauled in and less hauled out.
 
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