Composting Toilet

expensive composting toiletSelf-contained composting toilets are gaining popularity very quickly as a much cheaper and more sustainable solution to human waste management than a septic field or a sewer hookup.

Commercial composting toilets are very expensive, up to $20,000 for a unit powerful enough for an entire family. Good news though, there are clever ways to compost human manure much cheaper.

One of the best known ways of processing your own human waste is the humanure system, which is laid out in great detail in the Humanure Handbook, an absolutely excellent manual that I highly recommend to anyone interested in taking their personal nutrient cycle into their own hands.

The humanure system uses simple five gallon buckets, lots of sawdust, and outdoor pallet compost bins to create a safe, healthy, odour-free system of human waste processing. Waste is deposited in a five gallon bucket (I would highly recommend lining the bucket with newspaper before-hand) and covered with sawdust after the deposit has been made. Once the bucket is full, it is carried outside to the pallet composters and dumped to allow to compost for at least a year.


Left: Simple five gallon bucket toilet. This one comes with enzyme packets which will presumably aid in the composting speed of human waste.

See more information on this particular toilet system.

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14 thoughts on “Composting Toilet

  1. So basically, this is just an alternative method to get rid of human waste without water? Interesting but what will be the end result? I mean, can humanure be used for fertilization of our garden or farming? If so, is it better than cow manure?

    • Yes, composting needs no water, or at most needs far less water than a sewage or septic system. The end result is compost, which is a completely different substance from human faeces. You could safely roll around in finished compost.

      Humanure is used extensively in the far east for farming, where it is called “night soil.” In fact, human waste is so valuable in Vietnam that neighbors will compete with each other to make the most beautiful outhouse to attract passers-by.

      My source for these statements is The Humanure Handbook, mentioned above.

      • Night Soil is actually quite different from humanure compost because night soil has not been composted. As the previous poster mentioned the Humanure Handbook has a lot of great information and explains the difference between night soil and humanure compost.

        I have been composting our humanure for almost a year now. We follow the method outlined in the humanure handbook. We plan to use our compost on plants in our gardens in a little over a year from now. The key is that you have to have a high temp compost pile year one, and the second year the pile cools and is then broken down further by fungi and other beneficial bacteria.

        Overall its an easy process but is requires more planning and effort than just flushing a turd down the toilet. The main issue I see with this system is you need a lot of carbon materials to cover your manure in the pile and the bucket. If you dont cover enough in the bucket your house will smell like…

        Feel free to ask any questions. The bucket idea would be great for camping or a hunting site. One bucket should be enough for three people for a day (this is our average in our home with two adults and two children).

  2. Especially if you use sawdust inocculated with effective microorganisms (a la, bokashi composting) you just seal the bucket for some weeks, then bury the contents in the ground. Let sit for a couple more weeks, and you’re good to go on planting

    • Loke, you are the first person I have seen that suggests planting this early with the composted poop. Assuming that you are planting vegetables, have you actually done this and not gotten sick? Most everyone says that the humanure still has bacteria in it this early in the game….

    • Hi
      Can i just buy a bunch of buckets
      N compost it in bucket after its full
      With lid cracked slightly for air n bugs
      Thinking of buying like 6 buckets

  3. My question is how/where would one allow the shit to sit for a year if they are living in an apartment/city without any land?


    • This is a good point. We have three acres where I live. Our compost bin is three pallets wide and two deep and the bin is not quite a year old. We do compost everything in it though. I may have been heavy handed with oak leaves initially, however if you lived in the city you would also want to be heavy handed with the carbon cover materials to avoid any smell. Also the Humanure Handbook advises a two year composting period using thermophilic composting. If the pile is mesophilic it will take longer than two years. If I recall he suggests three.

      • Yes you can dehydrate your solid waste, crush it up and use it as fertilizer. Since you produce more waste than you need, you can let it sit in the sun for weeks or month and that pretty much assures all pathogens and parasites are dead. Here is a video I recently made. I’m sure that many people will be shocked but that is simply because we all basically live in the lap of luxury. For many people around the world, this is the answer.

    • You would need to have 5 gallon buckets with lids set in the yard. The buckets should be allowed to have soldier fly larvae in so you could punch a small hole in the lid maybe 1/2″ x 4-5 holes. Install some cardboard with a screw under the lid for soldier fly eggs.

  4. dry flush toilets were explored in Victorian England buy a man who worked at a boys home. He took some ideas from the Old Testament ….God told the Israelites to in effect dry the feces. Once it’s dry all anaerobic bacteria die. Not sure but I think after a week in a completely dry state it was used in the vegetable garden. The results were ???? %40 more than animal fertilizer? Ill look for the article and post it when I find it.

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