Composting Toilet in Suburbia

I have embarked upon a grand experiment. I have set up a “Humanure” composting toilet here in the bathroom closest to my office.

It’s about the simplest set up there is. Some peat moss (purchased from Home Depot) and two buckets. One to hold the peat moss and one to do your business in.

I used a Home Depot (no offense to Home Depot) for the defecating receptacle and I got an aluminum bucket to hold the peat moss. The metal bucket seals quite nicely, so there is no smell of peat moss in the bathroom (although peat moss smells pleasant.) I want the air to be nice and clear so if there is any lingering odors from the Humanure toilet, I want to know.

I did put a plastic garbage bag liner in the orange bucket to facilitate easy handling of the waste. I actually just got some compostable plastic bags in the mail today, after I set up the toilet. So, I will use that after I empty the current “batch”.

The pictures inside the defecation bucket, below, is pictured prior to any human deposits. What you see at the bottom is the first layer of peat moss you’re supposed to put down before starting a new batch of waste.

So far, I can report, it works. Haley has done a #1 in it and I have added #1 and #2. That was approximately 2 hours or so ago. There is no smell in that bathroom, whatsoever. After doing your business, you’re supposed to cover the deposit with a generous layer of peat moss. That’s it. NO WATER. Actually, if you use water, you ruin the effect of the Humanure toilet and it WILL start smelling. There are two ways in which waste is managed. There is anaerobic and aerobic. When we flush our toilet into the sewage, we’re using the anaerobic method. The Humanure system is aerobic, which means air only. No water is inserted into the system until it reaches the compost pile outside, and is exposed to the weather. But by that time, you have it covered with straw and it’s outside. While it’s inside, it is quite non smelly.

One thing I have discovered is, we’ll have to use an actual toilet to sit on. Sitting on the Home Depot bucket, with a compost toilet seat on it, does NOT work well for… um… men. Without going into too much detail, we have parts that don’t fit into the bucket all that well, when they are needed to be pointed in that direction. So, I think we’ll use an actual full sized toilet, but just line the toilet with compostable plastic bags and when it’s ready for emptying, we’ll just take it out and replace it with another bag. And we can store the unused peat moss in the tank that normally holds water behind the toilet. I think that’ll work nicely.

Family reactions to my experiment;

Haley… “Can I use it? PLEASE??”
Zoe… “What? Why? Huh? Mom, can I do your hair?”
Mom… Look of extreme disgust at the mention of it and refuses to talk about it. Ha!

I’ll update you on this experiment as it unfolds.

Part 2 of this post

2 thoughts on “Composting Toilet in Suburbia

  1. Very interesting! And… really gross at the same time. 🙂 When you said, ” Without going into too much detail, we have parts that don’t fit into the bucket all that well, when they are needed to be pointed in that direction” …… you really went into too much detail!! Too many visuals for me. Eww.

    But… I am enjoying your posts all the while. 🙂

    Take care, Shermahans!!

    • I could have gone into WHY we can’t fit and what we can’t do when we’re going #2… etc. Believe me, I left a LOT out. Ha!

      Allison said, “Why don’t you just pee first and then go?”

      I laughed. Women… they’re so simple sometimes. 🙂

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