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#1 of 47 Old 01-18-2011, 07:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH and I are currently turning a tiny pottery studio into a tiny house and are planning on eventually being entirely off of the grid- we will have electric power until we can come up with the $ for solar. I just started reading the Humanure Handbook and we are thinking we are going to go with a sawdust toilet and compost our waste (although we have no intentions of using it to grow food). I've been researching commercial composting toilets but they are so expensive and after talking with folks who have tried them, most say they didn't really work all that well.

 

Does anyone currently use this method? Any advice? 


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#2 of 47 Old 01-21-2011, 10:07 PM
 
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I read the Humanure Handbook and used the bucket method they did and I thought it was great! Totally no smell and so easy! I totally recommend it thumb.gif

I also use cloth tp which kinda goes along those lines and I love that too! T-shirt fabric is so much nicer than any paper tp orngbiggrin.gif


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#3 of 47 Old 01-22-2011, 01:29 PM
 
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My husband had to talk me into it, but now I love my sawdust toilet!  I'm pregnant and pee all the time, which means he has to take it out a lot more often, but we're still complete fans.  My favorite part is that it makes no sound!  (Which is great because one of our bathroom walls is still temporarily only a curtain.)

 

We were going to build one just like in the Humanure Handbook, but we ended up finding an old boat "commode" at a salvage yard for $50.  It was essentially just small metal barrel with a wooden toilet seat fitted on top, just the right size to hold our plastic 5-gallon buckets, and it is so nice and sturdy, much more comfortable than the average flush toilet.

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#4 of 47 Old 02-03-2011, 04:15 AM
 
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We had one for a long time.  They are great and not difficult at all other than the care of emptying when necessary.  If you have a large family, it would probably be better to have a separate one that is just for pee.  Otherwise it gets very liquidy and that is when problems arise.  If it's just you and your husband or something, one may suffice.

 

Use as little toilet paper as you can, that takes longer than anything else to break down and causes more mess than it's worth.  Make sure you always have a good supply of cover material, you definitely don't want to run out.

 

This type of toilet is SO easy and beneficial for the earth that it's a shame more people won't give it a try.  Just be careful, because in many areas it is illegal to use a system that isn't commercially manufactured.  Check your regulations and hide your compost bin if necessary :)

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#5 of 47 Old 03-08-2011, 10:54 AM
 
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we have been off grid for a few months. I mean living without any electric to the house ,from the pole. we use a comode right now and empty it into the outhouse for now. we moved in in dec so we couldnt dig a "compost" hole. WE plan on compost toilets. or sawdust toilets. some have been telling us that sawdust takes forever to decompose??? anyone heard of this?

 


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#6 of 47 Old 03-08-2011, 11:31 AM
 
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I don't have one but I have used them. The place that I used them they were outhouses. They encouraged people not to pee in them, as it interfered with the composting. They said just to pee in the bushes, which I don't mind. They had just built a big building and were planning on just using composting toilets but they still had to put in a regular flush toilet and septic system. They have never flushed the toilet or used the septic, they have grey water, but it was requited for building code and to be insured.
I would love to build an outhouse/sawdust toilet to use and give our septic tank a break.
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#7 of 47 Old 03-10-2011, 09:42 PM
 
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I do! Since I moved into our house about 6 months ago. I won't use our compost for a year or so, so I can't answer on that. But there is no smell and it's quite easy. I use peat moss as a cover, since I don't have anywhere to get loads of sawdust. well, I use the small amount of sawdust that I make for the toys, but that's not enough for all the time.


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#8 of 47 Old 03-12-2011, 07:34 AM
 
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We've also only been using our composting sawdust toilet since July, so I haven't used the compost yet.  The humanure handbook indicates that a year is a safe bet for full composting, so in our case, for instance, we'll make one pile from July 2010-June 2011, and then start a second pile for July 2010-June 2012.  And in June 2012, our first pile should be plenty readty for use.

 

As for whether sawdust composts, definitely read the humanure handbook for the expert opinion--he really did his research!  I recall that sawdust from pre-dried lumber (kiln or air dried) is NOT good, but "green" sawdust from a sawmill (recently from a live tree) is perfect for composting.  My husband is a furnituremaker, but we don't use the sawdust from his workshop, we buy our sawdust from a local lumbermill.  It's about $20 for a full truckload.

 

And as for digging a hole--we didn't.  Instead we just wall the pile in with strawbales, and stack more as we need them.  No smell so far!

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#9 of 47 Old 03-12-2011, 11:50 AM
 
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We used one for a while, where we pooped into a 5 gallon bucket that was inside a wood box with a hole in the top for a seat. We covered things completely with sawdust. When full, we emptied into a 35 gallon pickle barrel. Those we stored for a year or two, and then used as compost for non-food contact plants. The plants grew amazing. The bucket was pretty funky inside when emptied and TP hadn't broken down. Ideally, I think we would have composted it outside the buckets in a concrete chamber or something, and turned it periodically. If we had done that, I assume the TP would have broken down. 

 


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#10 of 47 Old 03-24-2011, 04:01 PM
 
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notes2.gif I have heard good things about that book and need to see if I can get it at my library! We are considering a composting toilet but have only talked to a few people who actually use them. They say they work great. But you are right, it is expensive, if nothing else!

 


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#11 of 47 Old 03-24-2011, 04:09 PM
 
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I don't do this yet but I do recommend the book. And I don't see the point of an expensive composting toilet. A set of 5 gal buckets (more than one is best, to rotate) and a toilet seat is really all you need, though a wooden box is obviously a nice perk. And the sawdust method seems so much more pleasant and effective than the composting toilet method.

 

I've got my buckets :) I've enlarged my composting pile setup :) Now just need a toilet seat and a truckload of sawdust.

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#12 of 47 Old 03-24-2011, 04:13 PM
 
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Yeah, my thing is convincing my hubby that there really are other alternatives to the great white throne that don't stink or wouldn't be worth the hassle involved. He's taking quite a bit of time just to consider the fancy composting toilets. But...sawdust and buckets definitely fit the budget better!


 


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#13 of 47 Old 03-24-2011, 04:25 PM
 
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#14 of 47 Old 03-26-2011, 07:47 PM
 
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I use the bucket toilet but with peat moss. It's best to just pee outside when you can but it doesn't hurt to pee in the bucket. It's best to get a bunch of buckets with lids and let it sit for a month before emptying it into a pile or bin. THat way it composts a bit in the bucket first. If you have 5-6 buckets, you can get a good rotation cycle going. You can also have an extra small bucket for the tp. The resulting compost can b used under trees. We have an oak tree on our land that is thriving on 6 years of humanure.

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Originally Posted by MamaRhi View Post

I use the bucket toilet but with peat moss. It's best to just pee outside when you can but it doesn't hurt to pee in the bucket. It's best to get a bunch of buckets with lids and let it sit for a month before emptying it into a pile or bin. THat way it composts a bit in the bucket first. If you have 5-6 buckets, you can get a good rotation cycle going. You can also have an extra small bucket for the tp. The resulting compost can b used under trees. We have an oak tree on our land that is thriving on 6 years of humanure.


I think that whole thing sounds like a great, do-able plan!

 


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#16 of 47 Old 03-27-2011, 06:50 AM
 
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It's your choice, but consider looking into alternatives to peat moss. Sawdust is a byproduct frequently just disposed of, whereas peat moss is mined (and mining is inherently damaging to the environment).


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#18 of 47 Old 03-28-2011, 11:01 AM
 
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I'm using peat moss because it's what is already being used here. I moved to this land 8 months ago, whereas my friends who own the land have been here 6 years. I try to start with what they're doing and then research from there.

Where do you get sawdust from? Peat moss is easy for me to pick up at the hardware store when I'm in town. I'm assuming sawdust availability depends on having a local sawmill. Those aren't prolific I imagine.

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#19 of 47 Old 03-28-2011, 06:18 PM
 
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We have been over 2 years with a bucket toilet too.. Yes you can pee in it, you just need to empty it more and it uses more cover material..

We use sawdust sometimes but since last summer have been using wood shavings, we bought a huge truckload to go into our woodchip clay infill walls on our home, it works great in the bucket toilet too. Cedar woodchips dont work as well , they take a LONG time to breakdown I have heard. We just emptied out our pile from 2 years ago, everything was broken down except some egg shells..


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#20 of 47 Old 03-28-2011, 06:18 PM
 
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Oh one more thing go with black 5 gallon buckets :)


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#21 of 47 Old 03-29-2011, 06:32 AM
 
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Oh one more thing go with black 5 gallon buckets :)



Why?


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#22 of 47 Old 03-29-2011, 08:01 AM
 
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You can't see through the sides and they will get hotter, thus composting faster. That's my guess.

I got green ones because they were on sale at the hardware store but I might "decorate" them with black duct tape just because I want to distinguish them from any other buckets around here. the above added benefits are good too, though.

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I use peat moss and the sawdust that I make from the toys. I don't know of any sawmills around here, plus I don't have a car, so I would have no way to pick it up anyway. I just moved to the area the area, so maybe when I'm more familiar with the area, I'll find something. If I could get it delivered, that would be ideal, but for now I'll have to keep buying peat moss, even though I'm not thrilled about it.


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#24 of 47 Old 03-29-2011, 02:25 PM
 
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Not every locale has a sawmill, but I think that a lot of people who do, get their sawdust delivered. They get it by the truckload. I'm lucky in that I have a sawmill nearby, though I haven't contacted them yet to see if they'll deliver and how much. I've heard one person who paid $20 for a truckload, which seems way too low for me. $20 would, to me, barely cover the gasoline and the time for a guy to load up and deliver. I do know, however, that the sawdust itself is not considered very valuable, so it's supposed to be cheap if you can get it. I'm sure some places even will give it to you for free if you come get it. I've considered buying two large garbage cans and seeing if I can take whatever I can shovel into them myself for free (we have a station wagon).


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For me, I already drive 45 minutes to get to he nearest town, so if I can't get it there or between here and there, I'm using too much gas to get it. Sometimes we have to just go with what we can get until a better solution is available. And, not everyone can store a truckload of anything. (I could, but I live on 100 acres.) Are there options beyond peat moss and sawdust? What about wood shavings like is used in commercial animal beddings? I use pine shavings in my chicken coop. I wonder if that's a usable substitute for sawdust?

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I shouldn't even reply since I haven't actually done this yet, but I've read about it, I've posted on Joseph Jenkin's forum, so I can't help myself :) The consensus seems to be: you can use any compostable carbonaceous material you can get your hands on, and you should use what makes sense for your locale and setup, but some materials are just better than others. Wood shavings, shredded leaves (I asked about these on JJ's forum, as we have a mulching tool and access to a lot of leaves) - absolutely doable, they are good materials. They might not have the same odor damping ability as fresh sawdust, but use what you can, they say. I plan to experiment, myself. Straw is not really useful in the bucket (though it is in the compost heap) since it doesn't trap odors very well. I wonder about mulched (ground) straw though. I mean, I've never heard of such a thing, but if you have access to straw and something to grind it up, it's worth a shot. You could keep your lawn clippings for this purpose, but unless you have a huge lawn and a riding mower you might not get enough. Maybe ask for neighbor's clippings too. There's lots of ideas.

 

I'm thinking the cedar shavings you get for pet bedding might be doable but they won't compost as quickly, and I'd be concerned about making sure I got just pure cedar shavings and no chemicals (like scent) added to it. But I'm thinking that more than that, they would be a fortune. Whatever material you use, you should have PLENTY of it, unless you don't care about odor. If you are conservative about your cover material, it will probably stink. You'll want to be very generous with it.

 

So, take that for what it is - a post from someone who's only a wannabe.


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I shouldn't even reply since I haven't actually done this yet, but I've read about it, I've posted on Joseph Jenkin's forum, so I can't help myself :) The consensus seems to be: you can use any compostable carbonaceous material you can get your hands on, and you should use what makes sense for your locale and setup, but some materials are just better than others. Wood shavings, shredded leaves (I asked about these on JJ's forum, as we have a mulching tool and access to a lot of leaves) - absolutely doable, they are good materials. They might not have the same odor damping ability as fresh sawdust, but use what you can, they say. I plan to experiment, myself. Straw is not really useful in the bucket (though it is in the compost heap) since it doesn't trap odors very well. I wonder about mulched (ground) straw though. I mean, I've never heard of such a thing, but if you have access to straw and something to grind it up, it's worth a shot. You could keep your lawn clippings for this purpose, but unless you have a huge lawn and a riding mower you might not get enough. Maybe ask for neighbor's clippings too. There's lots of ideas.

 

I'm thinking the cedar shavings you get for pet bedding might be doable but they won't compost as quickly, and I'd be concerned about making sure I got just pure cedar shavings and no chemicals (like scent) added to it. But I'm thinking that more than that, they would be a fortune. Whatever material you use, you should have PLENTY of it, unless you don't care about odor. If you are conservative about your cover material, it will probably stink. You'll want to be very generous with it.

 

So, take that for what it is - a post from someone who's only a wannabe.


At the cob house workshop I went to, they used chopped straw for their outhouse, it did fine stopping the odor. It would be messy for in the house though, I think, though peat moss is too. I'm always wiping a fine layer of black dust off of everything in the bathroom. Oh, they chopped it up with a weedwacker in a garbage can I think.

 


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Oh my gosh! A weedwacker in a garbage can sounds scary yet comical!

I'm going to experiment with the pine shavings and see how they compare to the peat moss.

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#29 of 47 Old 03-31-2011, 02:43 AM
 
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Since we live in a dry cabin, we have an outhouse.  In it we use lime to cover with and it doesn't have a strong smell at all.  In the winter we use a 5 gallon bucket with a toilet seat lid, our 40 below bucket.  I line the bucket with 2 tall kitchen trash bags.  In the mornings I remove the inside bag, tie it up and set it outside in a box to freeze.  It freezes solid in a square and every few days I stack them up and take them to the dump.  Of course now that it is spring, they aren't freezing, so I am emptying them into the outhouse.  I have a garbage can out there, also lined with a lawn and leaf bag that I put the plastic kitchen bag in after emptying it.  

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#30 of 47 Old 04-02-2011, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OP here smile.gif Thank you so much for all of the replies and advice! I would say about 1/2 of the people we talk to IRL think what we are doing with our tiny cabin/ bucket toilet think we are totally crazy, so it's comforting and refreshing to talk to other people who fully embrace and enjoy the lifestyle!

 I would love to keep the conversation going as I have more questions- do you have separate buckets for poo and pee? A lot of the people around us keep separate buckets (some use the pee to water their gardens) and a few friends have the pee bucket in the house and the poo bucket in an outhouse set up outside. If you have your bucket inside and poo in it, do you find it stinks (even after covering with your choice of covering material). We're planning on using sawdust because it's easy to come by in our area. What are your compost piles made of? How far are they away from your house? 


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