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Old 06-24-2009, 12:50 PM   #1
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Composting toilets... how many really use 'em?

I found my bathtub last night at Lowes ... a 24" x 36" mixing bucket ... and am starting to think about whether I want to deal with a blackwater tank or just go with a 5 gallon composting bucket for a toilet. I've seen the Paradim Shift tutorial on making a composting toilet and it's excellent, but there's some more info I need and he's not answering email.

Does anyone else out there use this method? Not just a porta potty that's dumped elsewhere... but a real home-made composting system. I need to know how long it takes to fill the bucket, the time between bucket rotations, and what kind of composting system is being used (heat or vermiculture). At home, I use vermiculture under my rabbit cages, but with 6 big bunnies, the worms are having a hard time keeping up! I'm just one person, but there's plenty of people who would say I'm "full of it" and I don't want to overburden an improperly sized system.

Any real world experience would be a big help!
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Old 06-24-2009, 07:28 PM   #2
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Re: Composting toilets... how many really use 'em?

For the first two years of full-timing I used a homemade composting toilet (link 1, link 2, link 3).
A bucket needed emptying about once a month (2 adults). It helps with bulk if females put the TP from #1 activities into a separate garbage bin. My mixture was a bunch of pine shavings, some soil, and perlite. The result was a very "airy" mix that had lots of oxygen to help the decomposition process. The buckets were rotated when full, and only the oldest bucket was emptied. Since the oldest bucket had been sitting for 2 months, it was not horribly gross to empty. There was no noticeable poo smell, just an earthy odor. (But make no mistake, the material was still toxic and I took great care to keep my hands clean.) If living on or near the forest, I'd empty it into a paper garbage bag and bury it, otherwise, I'd bag it and off it goes to the landfill.

Then in Aug '08 I changed to a Nature's Head urine-diverting model. Kinda spendy but a well-made unit. Currently the mix is 100% peat moss (manufacturer recommended), but I'm thinking about adding some perlite to the mix. I empty the #1 chamber a couple times a week, the #2 chamber about once every 30- 40 days (1 adult).

My advice for building your own:
1. Separate urine from feces. Never the two shall meet!
2. Have good ventilation via fan(s), and filters at the air intake/exhaust to prevent a fly invasion (very unpleasant).
3. Having multiple chambers was nice, so when it comes time for emptying, you're emptying the oldest one and not dealing with any recent poo.

Hope this helps
Sean
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Old 06-24-2009, 08:59 PM   #3
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Re: Composting toilets... how many really use 'em?

Thanks guys for the replies...

Smitty,
Yep. I'm an innie, not an outtie Tho, there are devices that allow innies to pee like outties , so your reply may still be valid. Inconvenient, perhaps, but possibly still valid.

SeanF,
Thanks for the link. Did you utilize any type of heater with your old system, or just let time do the trick?

That Nature's Head toilet is definitely tempting. But the price is still a show stopper for me right this minute. Better than any OTHER composting toilet I've seen, though! I'll have to save my pennies and upgrade when I get a chance (next year?).
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:30 PM   #4
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Re: Composting toilets... how many really use 'em?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TygerCub
Thanks guys for the replies...

SeanF,
Thanks for the link. Did you utilize any type of heater with your old system, or just let time do the trick?
Nope, no additional heating for the potty.
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Old 06-29-2009, 12:47 PM   #5
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Re: Composting toilets... how many really use 'em?

Reading comprehension is hard. I think the thread was directed to people who use composting toilets.

Personally, for me it is not about helping the environment, but rather water conservation. Water is heavy, bulky, and not compressible. To me it seems wasteful to use perfectly good drinking water to move and store human waste. But I have spent months living away from civilization, so a waterless, composting setup fits my needs. For those always on hookups, it makes sense to use a standard flush toilet and blackwater tank. As long as water is cheap and plentiful, there isn't really a downside unless one of the many plumbing connections fails, or the stuff in the tank solidifies, or the toilet backs up, or the dump hose leaks, or...
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Old 06-29-2009, 07:45 PM   #6
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Re: Composting toilets... how many really use 'em?

Since I plan to buy a little patch of land to live in the high desert, water conservation is my main reason for thinking about a composting toilet. Like SeanF, I want to make sure the essential water I carry is reserved for eating, drinking & washing, not for flushing waste. Also, I hope the dry climate will help speed the decomposition and reduction of the waste to a non-ugy form for burial .

Granted, this system isn't for everyone. But I deal with animal manure in one form or another every day... between the 2 dogs, 2 cats and 6 rabbits, there's a lot of crap that needs cleaning up. Having to deal with one more pile of poo isn't going to gross me out too much. Especially if it's already breaking down into compost.

Thanks for the info, guys! I'll keep an open mind about the Thetford. If I can find one on sale, I may consider it. Otherwise, I'll stick with the cheap bucket & seat for now.
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Old 07-05-2009, 12:26 AM   #7
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Re: Composting toilets... how many really use 'em?

Thanks! Excellent link that provided the statistics I needed.

3 gallons a week, huh? Plus an equal amount of cover material... Hmmm... Suddenly, 5 gallon buckets seem inadequate for such a full-time job.
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Old 12-28-2009, 01:34 PM   #8
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Re: Composting toilets... how many really use 'em?

My toilet area is currently a storage area, but I used it regularly until I came up here to school. They work fine if you are willing to invest a little time in the maintenance of them.

Some people are squeamish about handling ****, but it's a fact of life, and there's some moral satisfaction to be had in "owning your own ****," as they say.
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