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Composting Toilets?

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Old 06-21-2015, 09:22 PM   #1
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Default Composting toilets?

Does anyone have experience using a composting toliet on a long term/regular basis? If so what kind?
We are getting ready to put up our Yurt in a month and don't wish to put in a septic system.
We are a four person household (2 being children) that will be living in our Yurt full time year round!
Looking for safe, effective, lower maintaince.

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Old 06-22-2015, 11:50 AM   #2
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Default Re: Composting toilets?

We had a Sun Mar for about six years and it worked very well. It was in a building separate from our yurt and was for the two of us. It needed very little maintenance - emptied about once a month - and you had to turn a handle once a day to mix everything up. We replaced it this spring because we are getting older and already pay for the upkeep of a septic system that we weren't using.
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Old 06-23-2015, 12:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: Composting toilets?

I have heard many people swear by, (rather than swear at) Joseph Jenkins system, and you can read the third edition of his entire publication (book) online at this link:

http://humanurehandbook.com/download...ndbook_all.pdf

There is also a lot of stuff on youtube. Basically the LoveableLoo and clones are the Jenkins style. When you start looking on youtube you can spend the day pretty easily.

I think the secret to his system may be having a good source of hardwood sawdust or peatmoss, and enough room for a compost pile. Just my thoughts.


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Old 06-23-2015, 02:04 PM   #4
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Default Re: Composting toilets?

I know absolutely nothing about composting toilets. I do remember the name Clivus Multrum possibly from the Last Whole Earth Catalogue in the early 70s. I just wikied it and they are still making composting toilets. Maybe that lead will help you. Good luck.
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Old 06-24-2015, 03:56 PM   #5
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Default Re: Composting toilets?

I live in a yurt full time here in N. Ireland. I have friends that have gone all different ways of composting toilets, from very complicated to more basic. They swear by, and I now use, a very simple system.

Ready for it?

It's a 5 gallon bucket under a nice clean looking bench with a proper wooden toilet seat.

Scatter saw dust before you first use it, then use it like you would any toilet. When it's full, empty it into your composting area.This should be contained, and covered. I use an old large plastic 500 gallon home

heating

oil tank, which I portioned inside into 's. I fill one quarter, then move on to the next. By the time I get to the last the first is more than ready to be mixed into my garden waste/kitchen waste compost for use anywhere.
Here's the opening, it's got a rubber bit I glued and nailed to hang over the opening into the bucket, keeps liquids properly directed:

Here's the bucket, hidden below:

Here is the cap that fits snug to the rubber lip:

It's honestly all you need. If you're skittish you'll go spend money that will get you nothing better. I empty this once a week at most (I have 3 kids will me) and it's not stinky. I have it attached to my "roundhouse" yurt. It's really a roundhouse with a yurt roof. The bathroom is off the back, not in a separate building. I open a window or light an incense if it's in any way stinky, but mostly it is not. 95% of the time.

Separately I have a urinal for me (you can see it to the right of the toilet-its a glass bowl I blew years ago as a glass blower-meant to be a light shade!). If I've just got to do a wee and don't want to go outside I pee into that. I keep a little jug beside it to wash it down a bit (the copper jug in the pic hanging in a piece of beautiful ivy wood). That leads out of my place to an area with nettles and plants that love lots of nitrogen. This helps the toilet from getting too much liquid.

Good luck!
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Old 06-25-2015, 05:53 AM   #6
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Default Re: Composting toilets?

I've been using the system laid out by Joseph Jenkins in "the Humanure Handbook", full time, for several years now. It's cheap, easy, AND very, very environmentally friendly. After the second year - each spring - you get incredible compost worth hundreds of dollars. Once you get everything set up, it's right up there with solar for the "boy, this just *feels* right!"

I'm still experimenting with cover material. Sometimes I use sawdust and sometimes I use leaves. No bad smells if you do it right. Limiting urine in the bucket is important. That works for me as the bathroom is in an outbuilding and I pee the rest of the time into a container that I empty (lots of uses for urine!) each day. No leaving the toasty yurt mid-winter for a midnight run to the bathroom! You do also need two compost piles - which I made from standing pallets. One you use (active) and one that is composting. A whole ecosystem emerges as nature happily steps in to breaks down the organic material of your bathroom, garden, and kitchen. I throw everything in: bones, fat, etc. Again, done right, the thing really cooks.

Huge yuck factor to get past. But once you do, you realize just how terribly messed up and damaging our current system is. Plus, I now can see how bags of compost from the store has been baked sterile. The dirt from the compost is full of worms and microscopic things that plants love and need to be healthy and grow quickly. If you are looking for ways lessen your impact on the land, research this! It's awesome.
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Old 06-25-2015, 01:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: Composting toilets?

Hello Ecoemma,

I don't have experience per se with composting toilets, though I do compost all my food scraps and plan on getting a composting toilet for my yurt once it gets towards livable :P In the mean time, here's some things I've learned:

There are roughly three (3) types of common composting systems--the all out DIY Jenkins system (free to $200 depending on materials on hand), RV/boat-type composters ($1000), and big home composters ($2-20K). There are also incincerators, vacuum flush systems, and cesspool & septic setups.

The jenkins system is nice and simple, requiring the least layout of cash/materials (toilet seat, buckets, wood for toilet area & composting bin). Most work intensive though--if I recall from his online book they empty their buckets something like weekly. Requires good composting technique (mixing N-C, monitoring temp) and full aging (1-2 years) before garden use for safety. Since it's DIY, not a certified system. Also see variants such as Lodge-tech.net's composting toilet.

RV/Boat-type composters cost a good penny but not as much as the big systems. They're a lot smaller (close to the footprint of a regular toilet) and will often have urine diverting. Requires turning regularly via crank on side of toilet. Urine is emptied frequently (weekly or so; dilute and water plants or pour on ground?); composted matter emptied a few times a year, depending on holding capacity size/use (could maybe be used on ornamentals/trees; requires aging for safe use in gardens). Certified, kind of--not sure if for homes/buildings. Nature's Head, Air Head, and EzLoo composting toilets are the ones I know of.

Big composters look like big thrones, cost a lot, can be emptied less often (hopefully). Sometimes require started cultures & whatnot. SunMar and a bunch of others fall into this category. Certified and usually acceptable for home use.

So it kind of boils down to how much do you want to spend, how much work do you want to do, and what is the building department requiring?

Most all these systems require at least regular use of peat moss/coconut coir/sawdust/etc. Also keep in mind some system for dealing with your gray water should be developed--a mini-septic system here could work well, or just buckets emptied regularly, or even just piping it to a 'drainfield' of wood chips cultured with edible fungi

Hope that helps and good luck!
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Old 06-25-2015, 03:24 PM   #8
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Default Re: Composting toilets?

i have used a tree bog for about 10 years, actually 3 different one now. very simple totally hands free no maintenance,plus you get usable wood as well. for one person a one metre square one lasts around 4 years EA approved in the UK as long as it is more than 10 metres from a water course.
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Old 07-07-2015, 04:35 PM   #9
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Default Re: Composting toilets?

Been using the Joseph Jenkins 5 Gallon bucket system for 15 years.....I occasionally will use the tree-fall pine needles/oak leaves that surround us for "cover material.." usually I lug bags of salt Hay/eel grass from the high tide line.....a 5 minute walk away....nice stuff....cover every time and close the toilet seat to discourage the flying bugs.....it's actually a retrofit of a traditional outhouse....now has a bucket intead of a pit....so we can use the Resource after a couple of years....I've had a population of Red Wriggler worms that help the process along....I do not have direct sunlight because my trees are too tall.....The worms and time seem to compost my pile.....have to shift out the buckets once a week or so...I have a "tamper" to compress the pile....the key piece of equipment for me is the foam seat for winter use.....feels decadently warm when making the trek in the winter season !!!!
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Old 08-26-2015, 01:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: Composting toilets?

I think the cheapest compost toilet is basically a 5 gallon bucket with a toilet seat and every time you throw some sawdust in. Ideally liquid waste might go into a different 5 gallon bucket or something like that.
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