Kit Collins

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since Sep 09, 2015
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Recent posts by Kit Collins

William--Now, why didn't I think of that? (Don't answer that question!)
Great idea. I can try to put those nasty bits of fluff to better use.
1 year ago
Thanks Gerry--It would need to "take the heat" in places, so I'm guessing some "perlite" mixed in for a high-heat fiber? Any other fiber that could work? I'll prob try it with just the sand first, though, as you suggest.
1 year ago
Just found this thread and have been wondering about the same issues, as I started using a Jenkins-inspired system last Fall. Have tried medium-small leaves, but the problem of Fall moisture in the Seattle area does make them a bit stinky, not to mention buggy. Just couldn't get them dry enough outside in Fall, even under cover, although they were better than nothing. Tried also fairly dry fallen needles that I had gathered in summer from my Hemlock tree. Those were pretty stinky, too, when they were "moistened" in my bucket loo. Ash from the fireplace has been the best so far in terms of odor, but it's kind of impossible to avoid breathing in some of the dust as I sprinkle it on, plus I generate ash only seasonally. Have also tried sawdust generated by moistening fireplace pellets--admittedly a commercial solution--and it works OK with the odor but not as well as the ash. Recently kept some self-generated sawdust from sawing up some fallen tree limbs due to recent snows. That sawdust sat in sun for a while and was pretty dry, and worked well. Coffee grounds--even moist ones-- work well too for loo odor, but it takes at least a few day to generate enough of them in my family to cover even one solid-waste "event". I should try saving grass clippings from mowings this summer, as some posters suggest, as well as just digging some soil (after it's dried out a bit here).

Overall, I've learned that you can use a variety of what's available, and that some things work better than others. I really like the idea of just digging soil out of the yard and trying it for loo cover material, because when my compost piles have matured, I'm going to need some gaps in the yard to put the compost in!

BTW I came across this youtube vid (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUzTVs8iDPE) that shows an "ash flush toilet" from perhaps 50+ years ago. It's basically just a hopper for ash that might have very conveniently covered your business in its heyday. Might have worked with sawdust too. Seems like basically a large "bulk bin" type hopper mechanism, like those in some supermarkets that deliver bulk flours into plastic bags, except with a pull chain to dispense it.
1 year ago
I'm experimenting with small brick RMH designs which could be disassembled and re-assembled fairly easily. (That's both for reasons of experimentation and portability). To do that, I need something that acts as a sealer (or "lite mortar"), but is not permanent. In other words, it seals and sticks a bit, but is easy to scrape off. For horizontal and very thin vertical gaps, I've learned from this forum that slip (aka "watery clay goo") can work. However, for any larger gaps, slip is just too liquid to do the job. Think, for example, of the gaps around a circular metal flue as it joins with a square hole in a brick mass. Even if the flue is snug in the square, there are substantial gaps between it and the bricks in the four corners of the square.

I thought of using clay for such larger gaps, but I think it's pretty certain that it would shrink and crack pretty soon. I've been using chunks of rockwool, and it certainly works a bit, but it is not a good seal.

Any suggestions?
1 year ago
While excavating for making a drywell, I found an old concrete prob 1000 gal./4000 liter septic tank in my back yard. Putting 2 and 2 together from property records and looking inside it, it was apparently emptied and sealed in 1960. Opened it up yesterday to 55 year old air which smelled--not too bad, pretty much like a cave smell. There is about 2inches/5cm of darkish mud/muck on the bottom.
I'm considering using it for non-potable rainwater catchment, thus might like to clean it out. Just wondering what--if any--pathogens I should be afraid of after 56 years of non-use, what techniques I might use to clean it, and sundry other advice.
5 years ago
Thanks for replies. Some follow-up remarks/questions:

Does anyone know what types of garden hose and/or hose fittings might be better against freezes?

John Pollard: glad to know you haven't had too bad a barrel freeze in Missouri--it's quite a bit colder there than in Seattle. Have your pipes/hoses had a problem, and if so how did you adapt?

Charli Wilson: UK temp is maybe similar to Seattle. Seattle is just a couple degrees C cooler than London in the cold months. Your pipe-drainage scheme to avoid freezing sounds very interesting. How do your pipes drain automatically when the pump is not active? I'm assuming they are slanted slightly uphill and feed upwards from the tank? Did you ever have a problem with, say, on-ground garden hose freezing in winter?


5 years ago
Intending to install above-ground plastic 55-gal barrels for rain catchment next to my house, fed by downspouts, connected with garden hoses, and emptied by garden hoses as well. Would likely involve simple diy first flush diverter. I'm planning to connect for practical use, say for toilet flushing, either with low-flow toilet valve or with marine on-demand pressure pump. This would NOT be connected to home plumbing pipes, but would feed separately. I'm in Seattle city. Sometimes it freezes here. Sometimes ponds or lakes freeze over thinly, but rarely (or maybe never) enough for ice-skating.

My question is: how much do I have to worry about freezing here in Seattle, and if it should be a worry, then are there any modifications I can make to allow the system to work well in winter? Winter is, after all, the rainy season in Seattle.
5 years ago