Over the last couple of years, we have been crapping in a composting toilet. Did you know that the average American uses 7,665 gallons of water each year just flushing the toilet? It makes me so happy that my poop doesn’t waste water and is a useful compost for our trees, shrubs, and potatoes. It’s a great alternative for people who want a green toilet or who are living off-grid and not installing a septic system.
Human poop and pee have high percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, carbon, and calcium. It is equal to many fertilizers purchased in garden stores. It further prevents the pollution of ground water by controlling the fecal matter decomposition before entering the system.
Humanure may be deemed safe for humans to use on crops if handled in accordance with local health regulations, and composted properly. This means that the humanure must be heated sufficiently to destroy harmful pathogens, or enough time must have elapsed since fresh material was added that biological activity has killed any pathogens. To be safe for crops, a curing stage is often needed to allow a second mesophilic phase to reduce potential phytotoxins. (Thank you Wikipedia for much of this information!!)
We currently have a Biolet toilet, and it works great! All the comfort and convenience of a typical bathroom— with no water, sewer or septic system! These toilets don’t use water to flush waste away; instead, they use nature’s composting process to reduce and change the waste into humus. Our process when we go to the bathroom: pee, poop, flush with compost (specially made for the Biolet toilet) and close the lid. Easy!
Several months ago, we were having some issues with our toilet. I contacted Biolet with a few questions and found out that we were actually not using the toilet correctly. The Distribution Manager gave us his personal phone number, spoke with us at length for a long time to give us some pointers and suggestions, and reminded us of proper use. It turned out that our misuse was causing the toilet to malfunction. The biggest problem we were experiencing was keeping the temperature of the toilet at 64 degrees or higher. (We don’t heat much, if at all, during the winter.) We also were primarily pooping in the toilet, and saving our pee for plants and trees. We found out that the toilet was too dry, and it needs a good amount of liquid to work well.
A few weeks ago, we cleaned out the toilet (thank you Zack!) and started from the beginning. The toilet is amazing… no problems, works like new. So I am just sharing that while there are many options for composting toilets, I am impressed with the Biolet. I loved their help when we were having problems and how with proper use, this toilet is really wonderful.
If you are on a tighter budget, you can create your own smaller composting system. One suggestion is the Loveable Loo. You can order this from humanurehandbook.com or just make one yourself. They are simple and work great for an “emergency toilet” in your yurt. You pee or poop in a bucket, and then you add the bucket’s contents to your humanure composting system. Check out the Humanure Handbook for more information. It is a great resource!
We are also currently building a large capacity humanure system. We have already built a lovely “throne house” and are working on installing the proper “plumbing” for our barrel system. I’ll post pictures in the next few weeks, along with a description of our actual project. In the meantime, hope you have a crappy day!