What are compost toilets?

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I read in one of the threads about compost toilets. Could someone please explain what those are? I know this is not a very tasteful subject, but how do you dispose of human waste. I'm not finding anything on this forum. Thanks for the help and God bless us all. Mary

-- Mary L. Broome (broome@gateway. net), January 18, 1999


Mary, here is the web site for one of the few companies that sell composting toilets. They have a video they sell for $5.00. Should be some information at this site for enlightment.

http://www.sun-mar.com Sun Mar Composting Toilets


-- Ray (rayl@whc.net), January 18, 1999.


They are toilets that use a bit of peat moss to assist in the drying, and decomposition of the wastes, in a bin which does not drain or evacuate to the outside. Eventually, fairly frequently, you get out some very rich soil/fertilizer from the bottom of the toilet. You get no unwanted smell, and they are not really noticeably different except for the size (they are a bit larger).


-- Chuck, night driver (rienzoo@en.com), January 18, 1999.

There you stand so spic and span...where were you when it hit the fan? The subject area of sewerage and sanitation has had very little attention relative to rice and beans. I visited some store websites and the prices are ridiculously expensive for indoor "johns" or "loos" or "water closets" or "toilets" for emmergency use. What are us poor folks in the city going to do? Did'nt our ancestors use "night buckets" ?... also called, honey pots, chamber pots, slop jars, & thunder mugs. AND AN OUT HOUSE OUT BACK. I have a Coleman portable toilet with special powders to control aroma. Also post hole digger to make vertical holes in back yard and powdered lime to cover. Trash bags to put in the toilet bowl under lid ..Inflatable rubber ball to put in sewer line to street to prevent back-up. I also have extra 5 gal. plastic buckets that could be made into make-shift stools. Any more ideas?

-- ronbanks (phxbanks@webtv.net), January 18, 1999.

Here are 2 good sites for very simple do-it-yourself models and information. There are also great stories and comments on this subject on several survival or homestead forums that you can filter out. Gary North's forums are a good start.



There are a couple good books on how to build your own more elaborate models as well, if you want something more like the pro models. These systems all need maintainance but not daily maintanance like emptying the bucket.

The idea has been around for ecological reasons for a long time. Sewage is much easier to decompose if the liquids are extracted by allowing the moisture that evaporates to escape through a vent to the ceiling which encourages the flow of air away from the toilet lid and keeps the smell away from the bathroom. Since moisture is a large part of the waste, once it is gone there is much less to deal with. Adding sawdust or lime encourages the breakdown and keeps flies and rodents away. Within 1 to 2 years, the resulting soil can be put back on the land. However, I have heard that it is not appropriate to try to grow food on it, but it is completely sanitary and safe. A large drum is needed to hold the waste and 2 or 3 can be cycled around.

Hope that helps.


-- Lora Ereshan (artemis45@hotmail.com), January 18, 1999.


I have a Sun-Mar EXCEL AC/DC installed in my business shop and it is a supurb unit. Total cost of installation(excluding my time), $1389.16. It produces a wonderful humus for garden or trees and I would recommend it to anyone.


-- c (c@c.c), January 18, 1999.

There are several models manufactured commercially here in Australia. One allows the feces to decompose (possibly using peat moss) until it is reduced to non-smelling and rich compost. Another uses a pit of garden worms and/or manure worms to eat the feces and turn it into worm castings. Whichever way you go, the end product is just the stuff to feed your garden with. The trick with using (hu)manure to fertilise your vegies is that it must have been fermented, heated or otherwise processed enough to kill any organisms like worms and parasites. If in doubt wash all uncooked salad veggies in Potassium Permangenate solution (known as Condy's Crystals in Oz). In China, they ferment the hu(manure) in pots for a few weeks to kill all the parasites before use; it is mentioned in the Barefoot Doctors Manual, from the days of Mao Tse-tung.

-- David Harvey (vk2dmh@hotmail.com), January 21, 1999.

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