Compost Toilet

inthejungleinthejungle Solar Expert Posts: 91 ✭✭
Well,


I have been going around in circles about what to do for our toilet and would love some input

We live in an area were I can get plenty of water for drinking, but I don't want to loose it down the toilet. A buddy recommended that we should put in a compost toilet.

I think that we can do this, here is what we have, we have a room in the house that is unfinished, the concrete floor has not been poured, and the floor is filled with dirt. We could dig and bury something, but how to clean it out?

I can get bags of cement, but they are 20$ a bag, so I would prefer to minimize the use of cement. I can very easily get 55 gallon plastic drums and I can get lots of hard wood.


The main issue I see with using a 55 gallon drum is the collecting of the compost afterwords. I can't bust a hole in the wall to make a collection bin because the walls are mud block and it might take down the wall! I can't really stand the drum up, how will my 5 year old daughter climb on top to go to the bathroom.


I am wondering if anyone has any ideas to use a 55 gallon drum and make a compost toilet?

Is a 55 gallon drum big enough for 2 adults and 2 kids? Anyone know how to properly size a compost toilets, collection bin?


Thanks


INJ
In Niger, trying to keep a LG FMA 102NAMA fridge(This has the inverter compressor) backed up with solar using a Victron Multi-Plus Inverter/Charger Compact 12v 1600w with a 70a charger built in.I want to back it up for 4-8 hours. I am also running a few O2 cool fans and a few Thin Lite LED's of my batteries for when the grid is down so my kids can sleep.

Comments

  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    Rather than building something like that in your house, I would strongly suggest building an "outhouse", separate from your living quarters. Couple of neighbors where we had our camp installed compost toilets, and they made their house smell like an old fashioned outhouse. (horrible) The smell makes it's way throughout the house and surrounds the outside of the house depending on wind direction. The smell was NOT a pleasant welcome to visitors. However I suppose it could be argued that eventually those living in the house would get used to the smell and no longer notice it.
    Another friend had a hi-tec electric unit that baked deposits to a sterile dust, but it was an energy hog and it seemed always in need of repair. They finally got rid of it.
    Seriously, considering your situation, you might consider an old fashioned "outhouse", away from your living quarters.
    Of course others may not agree, and that may not be what you want, but at least you will know what you'll be up against in advance if you do decide to install such a thing inside your home.
  • erneerne Solar Expert Posts: 41
    Re: Compost Toilet

    go to sunnyjon and have a look he uses 55 gal drums.Attachment not found.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,399 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    In my experience, unless you live in a very warm climate, composting toilets need added heat to work very well, and th are not well suited for indoor applications. I installed a number of low water unites that work fairly well for part time cabins, but require 500 watts of heat to keep them active"

    I would just go with an outhouse, or a well designed septic system. Marine type toilets use tiny amounts of water per flush, like 1 cup. Makes a pretty low water use impact on a drain field.

    Icarus
  • RybrenRybren Solar Expert Posts: 351 ✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    Or try using a Humanure Toilet

    - you basically use a 5 gal pail with some sawdust in the bottom. Everytime you use the Loo, you add a bit more sawdust to cover everything up. When the pail gets full - or you leave the cabin, you empty the pail into a compost heap.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,042 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    Well I have seen the opposite, I had a friend built a barge boat, actually his second, and put in a composting toilet in his camper and transferred it to the boat when the boat was finished, it had maybe a slight earthy smell if any. even in a tiny camper. I in humid areas, aren't you in Virginia?, they require heating and a steady exhaust fan. I had mine setup for a short while and didn't have smells, but I stead had the exhaust fan running or capped since I was expecting an inspection from the park.

    If you are in the states, outhouses are generally not allowed, In Missouri, where I build and live in a shed with out inspection on anything, the only thing that is inspected is septic, you can do an outhouse if you have 10 or more acres, I think it was 5 when I was checking out Arkansas. East of the Mississippi, I think you would run into more regulations. There are a few composting toilets that carry National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certification and would be hard for an inspector to flag but could be restricted by code, usually these are multi bin type. I have a Biolet (I think with out looking) I is a single bin and really only suitable for a cabin use since the 'finishing' requires 6-8 weeks with out new deposits, this can be done with a outside compost pile, but that puts the un treated waste in the environment.

    If this is just for an SHTF situation, I'd look at a saw dust bucket, and store a bail of peat moss to add to the toilet. any bucket or barrel type that doesn't have incoming air and an agitator of some type will not compost. So a sawdust bucket and out side bin would be your best bet if you trying to do it on the cheap. Urine is not a environmental problem and men should be encouraged to take it out side, too much liquid also creates a problem in composting. Urines high nitrogen content can create a burn, but in some cultures it is collected and used, diluted to enrich gardens.

    If you search Youtube for bucket toilet or off grid toilet, you will find some peoples designs.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • inthejungleinthejungle Solar Expert Posts: 91 ✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    Thanks to everyone for your thoughts,


    We are in Liberia West Africa and it is never below 80f and 80%humidity. I agree that there is the potential for some really bad odors, what I did was found a computer fan that draws .08a, and I figure I can run it 24hrs a day and it won't draw a significant load.

    The fans I am using came from Mouser

    I have been reading a lot about the sawdust bucket, I am wondering if I made one of these the bucket is low, maybe 12" it would be nice to sit up a bit higher. I am thinking that if I make the box, put a seat on it, and then vent the box and empty it at the end of the day or every two days.

    What does one do when they can't find sawdust? What would I do in the rainy season, we get 300 inches of rain in 6 months?

    INJ
    In Niger, trying to keep a LG FMA 102NAMA fridge(This has the inverter compressor) backed up with solar using a Victron Multi-Plus Inverter/Charger Compact 12v 1600w with a 70a charger built in.I want to back it up for 4-8 hours. I am also running a few O2 cool fans and a few Thin Lite LED's of my batteries for when the grid is down so my kids can sleep.
  • Sun DogSun Dog Solar Expert Posts: 115 ✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    If you want something in your house I think separating the liquids and the solids is the way to go as it is the mixing that leads to the worst smells. Just build a wooden box (height to be determined by users) with a hinged top. Add one of these http://www.separett.ca/Torrdass-500-ca and either direct the liquids to an appropriate outdoor location or to a container that can be drained as required. Toss the lid that comes with it and use a conventional toilet seat. Put a pail/bucket inside lined with plastic bags for the solids. No need for sawdust or peet moss as a small muffin fan will easily remove any and all odours. A vertical stack with no bends should also work (with no fan) but for the small amount of power I would just go straight out the back with a muffin fan. Some screen over the exhaust to prevent and creepy crawlers from getting in. This is not a composting toilet but the contents can be removed and composted outside in an appropriate location. Might need a child seat for the little one so that everything goes where it should.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet
    What does one do when they can't find sawdust? What would I do in the rainy season, we get 300 inches of rain in 6 months?
    In a classic outhouse where the pit would just be covered when it is full and the outhouse moved to a new hole, we often use wood ash to keep the flies away and the odors down. But I think that would not be good for composting.
    For outhouses and for portable toilets with holding tanks, it is often more effective to put a tall 4" or larger ventilation stack to the outside (well above your roof) instead of using a fan. As long as the decomposition generates some heat, and outside air can only come into the tank area near the bottom, this will often provide all of the odor control you need. The seal when you close the top of the toilet has to be good in any case.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • H2SO4_guyH2SO4_guy Solar Expert Posts: 213 ✭✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    Check out the humanure handbook. You can go to their site and buy it or look around and get a .pdf of it for free. The good folks up at Dancing Rabbit Eco Village use them and they work well. Also check out the Loveable Loo on the web and youtube. Lots of info out there that will work in many situations.

    Good Luck!
    12K asst panels charging through Midnite Classic 150's, powering Exeltechs and Outback VFX-3648 inverter at 12 and 48 volts.  2080 AH @ 48 VDC of Panasonic Stationary batteries (2 strings of 1040 AH each) purchased for slightly over scrap, installed August 2013.  Outback PSX-240X for 220 volt duties.  No genny usage since 2014. 
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    We have the separette that sun dog mentioned. Works very well, no smell using the small fan that comes with the unit. Urine goes to fruit trees, solids get turned into manure outside. Only Inconvienieences are having to carry a bucket of poo out once a month, and explaining to male visitors that they have to sit down when urinating, and that this will not affect their manhood.
  • DavidOHDavidOH Solar Expert Posts: 109 ✭✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    The humanure toilet
    http://humanurehandbook.com/humanure_toilet.html

    Yes, as suggested: Something that should be on your list is THIS: http://www.ecovita.net/privy.html
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    The big separette model is quite expensive for what it is, something like the privy mentioned above or just the seat of the separette which they sell separately would be better buys if you're on a budget. Here's what someone else did using the separating seat and a bucket: http://www.navitron.org.uk/forum/index.php/topic,19627.msg226214.html
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,501 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    And there is a new slow molder design - works like a 2 chamber pit outhouse, and you shovel humus out every year
    http://www.sunnyjohn.com/toiletpapers2.htm
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  • inthejungleinthejungle Solar Expert Posts: 91 ✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    Thanks to everyone for all of your thoughts. In light of the overwhelming view's on a saw dust toilet's and the fact that I need something as soon as we arrive. I had a bunch of wood around and went ahead and built a sawdust toilet yesterday(attached a picture) in the long term we will have to build an outhouse or something. Heck we may just get used to the sawdust toilet and keep using that!

    Thanks again for all of your thoughts


    INJ

    Attachment not found.
    In Niger, trying to keep a LG FMA 102NAMA fridge(This has the inverter compressor) backed up with solar using a Victron Multi-Plus Inverter/Charger Compact 12v 1600w with a 70a charger built in.I want to back it up for 4-8 hours. I am also running a few O2 cool fans and a few Thin Lite LED's of my batteries for when the grid is down so my kids can sleep.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,501 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    The sawdust/peat moss 50/50 is a good start for the bucket systems. We built a "throne room" to enable us to use 30gal plastic drums from the self-carwash industry.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • inthejungleinthejungle Solar Expert Posts: 91 ✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    I agree it would be great to seperate the liquids out. Problem is getting something ordered and then carried over here with a traveler, it can take a lot of time.


    One idea that I had was to take an old vinegar plastic bottle and make a home made urinal and attach it to the wall,

    Anyone seen something like this?

    Does anyone know is it OK just to run this on the ground outside? If it is how far should it be from the house?


    Thanks

    ITJ
    In Niger, trying to keep a LG FMA 102NAMA fridge(This has the inverter compressor) backed up with solar using a Victron Multi-Plus Inverter/Charger Compact 12v 1600w with a 70a charger built in.I want to back it up for 4-8 hours. I am also running a few O2 cool fans and a few Thin Lite LED's of my batteries for when the grid is down so my kids can sleep.
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 897 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    Take the hose from your home made urinal out the wall and place it in a hole filled with gravel. It will act like a "dry well" and percolate away the liquids. Might not meet plumbing or building code, but nothing in this thread seems to so far.;) You might want to have a bend in the pipe (like a sink trap). If you're really motivated have a jug of water nearby, you can "flush" the urinal so only water is in the trap. The room won't smell strongly of horse pee, just what gets left in the box and pail of sawdust.

    Ralph
  • Chris MillerChris Miller Solar Expert Posts: 49
    Re: Compost Toilet

    We use a 5 gallon "loveable loo" setup as described in the Humanure Handbook (the site has the info and plans a well) and everything goes into that.

    We go thru a bucket every 2 days or so with 2 adults and 2 kids. We wait until we have all 6 buckets full and then we dump it in the compost pile. I think anything with a 55 gallon drum would be quite a mess and a real bear to work with.

    We're really happy with the loveable loo. We use simple wood shavings in it and it never smells, doesn't attract any bugs and cleanup is easy.

    Hope this helps. :)
  • Chris MillerChris Miller Solar Expert Posts: 49
    Re: Compost Toilet

    For what it's worth - I read a lot about separating out the liquids before we decided on the all in one method from the humanure handbook. They made the case for keeping it all together and it does make a lot more sense. It gives some great moisture for your compost, added nutrients, and makes cleanup of the buckets even easier I think.

    We're glad we abandoned the idea of separating the two....
  • thehardwaythehardway Solar Expert Posts: 56 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    INJ,

    Composting human manure can be done indoors but I believe there are health benefits to taking it outdoors.

    As a kid with no running water or septic system in our house we had a camper toilet with a flush valve. The toilet was mounted to the floor upstairs and the tail pipe passed through the floor to the basement and into a 5 gal plastic jug. 5 gal was ideal size as it was sufficient capacity for a whole day but small enough for one person to carry. The jug was carried out back far enough away from the house that it could not be smelled and dumped in a hole and covered with dirt and leaf litter. We used to argue about who's turn it was to "take out the jug"

    IMHO the value of human manure as compost for gardening is minimal as compared to to potential health risks it poses, especially in a remote situation where medical facilities are not immediately available. I see more risk than benefit and certainly more labor.

    I would propose building an incinerator toilet. They are easier to use and manage, require no long term storage of waste material and no maintenance to speak of. The small amount of electric they use, would be comparable to running a heater and a fan to maintain a composting system without undue odor. For a commercially available system you can check out Incinolet.

    If budget/delivery of a commercially available model is a problem, you can certainly build your own using a 55 gallon drum as an incinerator chamber. Start a wood or charcoal fire in it and simply cook the crap out of it (pun intended). Burning the human waste kills all the nasty germs, bacteria, viruses and disease and the small amount of ash that remains can be disposed of just about anywhere.


    Well,


    I have been going around in circles about what to do for our toilet and would love some input

    We live in an area were I can get plenty of water for drinking, but I don't want to loose it down the toilet. A buddy recommended that we should put in a compost toilet.

    I think that we can do this, here is what we have, we have a room in the house that is unfinished, the concrete floor has not been poured, and the floor is filled with dirt. We could dig and bury something, but how to clean it out?

    I can get bags of cement, but they are 20$ a bag, so I would prefer to minimize the use of cement. I can very easily get 55 gallon plastic drums and I can get lots of hard wood.


    The main issue I see with using a 55 gallon drum is the collecting of the compost afterwords. I can't bust a hole in the wall to make a collection bin because the walls are mud block and it might take down the wall! I can't really stand the drum up, how will my 5 year old daughter climb on top to go to the bathroom.


    I am wondering if anyone has any ideas to use a 55 gallon drum and make a compost toilet?

    Is a 55 gallon drum big enough for 2 adults and 2 kids? Anyone know how to properly size a compost toilets, collection bin?


    Thanks


    INJ
  • muddomemuddome Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Compost Toilet

    Finally something on this forum I have experience with and can comment on! We have been doing the humanure method for over two years now. It's a win/win. No smell, no mess and great compost for the trees. Cheapest setup possible too. Follow the directions in the humanure handbook, and you can't go wrong.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet
    thehardway wrote: »
    IMHO the value of human manure as compost for gardening is minimal as compared to to potential health risks it poses, especially in a remote situation where medical facilities are not immediately available. I see more risk than benefit and certainly more labor.

    But you can always keep up the compost pile and then dump the compost instead of using it in the garden.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • bmetbmet Solar Expert Posts: 630 ✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    I served in the first Gulf War, and had opportunity to visit a public park in Abu-Dhabi where they used human manure. The good side was that everything there was green. The bad side was that the entire park smelled like a fresh crap. As a 'visitor', I couldn't stomach the stench. The locals had no problem enjoying the fruits of their labor.
  • couchsachragacouchsachraga Solar Expert Posts: 78 ✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    Here in the Northeast US some folks use Biolets, as already mentioned, but others have had better luck with SunMars (as of a few years ago the only NSF certified unit). I know a number of folks with the non-electric version (fan highly recommended if there is a lot of use, plus has "overflow" drainage for fluid). More expensive than Humanure though.
  • Organic FarmerOrganic Farmer Solar Expert Posts: 128 ✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet

    When we moved rural, we looked around for a long time, at the electric assisted composting toilet setups. Some of those systems are very pricy.

    We found that building permits in this region require that you must first have a conventional septic system and stone field leachbed, before you can use alternative treatment methods. So we went with the conventional system, at first.

    While building our home, we began to meet locals and that was when we actually saw what off-grid / organic / sustainable families are using here. Most seem to use the simple bucket inside a throne, and empty it each day into a raised bed.

    They can not use that raised bed for organic crops for market, until the third year. But it does not stop families from increasing their number of raised beds every year.

    Currently we only use our bucket inside a throne, for when power is out.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,176 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Compost Toilet & ''the Origin of Feces''

    A book was just released called "The Origin of Feces", and is an interesting look at this topic.

    http://www.ecwpress.com/originoffeces

    a well written, in depth history on the topic.... and what we have done and need to do about it...
     
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