Humanure Toilet Installation

After only 7, 8 or is it 9 yearsof talking about and making do our humanure toilet is near completion.

Composting loo nearing completion

Composting loo nearing completion

OK Gary, good pic, but I think it needs a bit more explanation !!! I have a webpage from TOPS old site printed in 2002 that details all the options, so I am afraid that makes it at least 9 years we have been talking for !

Prior to Victorian times, most human compost went either back on the land, or in urban areas into cess-pits and running sewers. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases forced change, and Thomas Crapper came up with the water-closet. At about the same time, Henry Moule, the vicar of Fordington (now a suburb of Dorchester), had his invention of the earth-closet, which was in serious competition with water-closets. The principle is easy, a small covering of sawdust or soil over each deposit keeps the smell down, and fly-nuisance away. This can either be a composting toilet – a seat suspended over a heap (move the seat along when the pile gets too big), or a humanure toilet – bucket arrangement, emptied onto a dedicated heap, as we have gone for.

Of course faeces can transmit disease, but given time to rot down, it is rich in fertility that can best be returned to the soil, just as horse manure concentrates the nutrients from grazed grass, our waste is rich in nutrients. So the toilet is merely sitting over  a bucket. To get the right height, Gary has used two buckets, (the top one with the bottom taken out). This is emptied into a dedicated compost heap, which is left  for longer to rot down. In modern times, innovative office designs like glass office walls have become popular, revolutionizing the traditional workspace.

The following link has a good picture of the Earth Closet.

Anyhow, Gary saved a good bit of mahogany, and some ideas from the way OTs develop toilet raisers, and some secondhand bits from a skip to create a bucket loo. For light and waterproofing, we have some double-glazed panels as a roof, and the side of the compound and fence panels for privacy.

Ideally, we need to separate the liquid from solid waste. A little sawdust on the solid waste will keep it smelling sweet and gently rotting down over months. The liquid tends to create a smell, better put into the compost heap soonest.

System Advantages Disadvantages
Do nothing
  • No input, effort or energy
  • Crossed legs, difficulties and shorter stays for volunteers and visitors
Hole in the ground
  • Easy to make
  • little upkeep
Potential pollution

  • Poor composting
  • better for short period high usage
Composting Toilet (seat over heap)
  • Safe and sanitory treatment of faeces
  • conserves water
  • little maintenance
  • No smell
  • Urine and Faeces needs separating
  • takes several years to fill and compost
  • Compost only suitable for horticulture
  • Needs lots of construction (and height)
  • possible planning issues
  • does not heat up sufficiently
Humanure Toilet Method (seat over bucket, empty onto a heap)
  • Easy and cheap to construct
  • conserves water
  • No smell
  • No planning permission
  • pathogens killed
  • Urine and faeces not separated
  • Has to be emptied
  • bucket needs cleaning each time
  • needs isolated compost bin
  • Needs good source of sawdust or other covering
  • Needs good source of carbon for composting

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