We have a Toilet

The House has a crusty old pit latrine in the back corner that I have yet to even touch. Pit latrines are disgusting. They smell horrible, look gross, and have to be vacuumed out regularly and the waste hauled off. We have no sewer system in the neighborhood so all the neighbors keep telling me I have to put in a septic system. But I have a much better and far far cheaper solution.

A Humanure Composting Toilet

Now you may think it sounds gross to compost your own poo but I think its a lot better to compost our poo and make something useful out of it than to take perfectly good drinking water and poo in that, then flush that poo to a waste water treatment plant where its chemically treated and made back into drinking water again. Now that sounds gross to me. Luckily we’re not on city water!

Our poo, once it has been properly composted is a rich material perfect for fertilizing the soil. Talk about turning s#!t into gold!! The key words here are “properly composting” because when people imagine using human waste as fertilizer they imagine poo going straight into the field, and that is indeed not only gross but rather dangerous. So the key is composting the poo, by adding plenty of carbonaceous material and letting microbes feed on it break it down until it becomes essentially just rich soil.

Construction is fairly simple. I just got a couple of 20 liter buckets and a toilet seat from the home center, built the frame to fit the buckets out of plywood. made the hinged lid to easily remove the buckets once full and that was that.

MB helped build it and said it was the best looking toilet he’d ever seen. He even got to be the first to break it in! And I can now say from personal experience that these toilets DO NOT STINK! It really is amazing.

We use wood shavings donated from a friend of ours that builds houses. He’s happy to be rid of them and we’re happy to use them so it works out. The shavings give the toilet room a pleasant odor of pine and cedar. There is really no bathroom smell at all.

Once the bucket is full I’ll dump it in a compose pile and monitor the temperature to make sure things are breaking down. The compost pile will be used for a year, and then left to rest for a year before going into the garden. So it will be some time before we have usable compost from the toilet.

Anyway, so far I am pretty pleased with it and it is nice not to have to pee in the field anymore! TLG hasn’t used it yet though (but she’s seen it) and I will be very interested in her opinion after she does.

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5 Responses to We have a Toilet

  1. kenelwood says:

    Hey! Your toilet space there looks really nice. We’ve got a septic tank here, and I recently found out where our shit gets hauled off to: Cement Makers. I think I’ll be copying your toilet design if you don’t mind.



    • brodoland says:

      Ken, I can’t recommend it enough. If the whole world adopted composting toilets like this, just think how much more fertile soil and clean water we’d have (not to mention the cost of sewage infrastructure or the potential of being paid for your sewage rather than paying to dispose of it…).


  2. freeB says:

    That bathroom space does look nice. I can remember you discussing on G-pot the very thing you’re soon (or already) to be putting to use back a few years ago. It’s got to feel pretty good to be able to start materializing some of your ideas and things envisioned.


    • brodoland says:

      Yeah we really like it. Even TLG was pleasantly surprised and gave her stamp of approval, “as long as you deal with the emptying and composing part…” 🙂


  3. Excellent news and welcome to the compost toilet crowd. I have just made another to celebrate eight years using our first bucket toilet. Once started there is no going back to a flusher or a pit!


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