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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Discussed before but.. compost toilet. Different system
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# Posted: 13 Mar 2013 22:59

Well at first I wanted to use a similar system to VinceP - low flush RV toilet & outdoor compost bin. The problem is that it requires me to have these before - gutters, rain collection tote, solar system, water pump, compost bin, and vents... Which is a lot.

My main reason for wanting this 'like at home' style toilet is to avoid dealing with anything or seeing anything.

This is my other current idea:

Build a bucket system using 5 gallon hd buckets. From what I gather, if I have an outhouse as well - which I will mainly use and the wife won't plus we are only going to use the cabin for about 2 days every two week - this bucket will get filled maybe once in three four months.

Now, I don't want to do the whole - compost bin/ area outside and toss it in there. Instead, I will just seal it air tight and let it break down in anaerobic way over a year. Like this guy explains:

If my assumptions are right - I should have 3-4 buckets after my first year and then about a 4-5 buckets on average at any given point. Cost wise, those buckets are nothing.

Any general thoughts/input on this system?

More questions:

1. A bucket might be 3/4 full and sit in the cabin for a month when we don't come up. As far as I know if it is covered with saw dust - it doesn't small. true?

2. Does it splash? (sorry for this) but what I mean is - do you need to clean the bucket walls sometimes (cannot believe I am writing this)?

3. The guy in that blog mentions that his cabin is in Vermont. If he seals the buckets air tight and leaves it outside -won't it freeze and burst the bucket? Won't that happen to me too?

# Posted: 14 Mar 2013 16:05 - Edited by: bugs

Err methinks "it" will be odoriferous if left sitting in the pail for a month. And bugs will smell "it" and find "it". I suspect you won't appreciate the swarms of flies. Best to dump the "it" pail into a bin each time you leave.

We line our pail with a biodegradable plastic bag. This keeps the pail clean from solid "its". We dump the pail, bag and all into a bin and then give the pail a rinse with some water and the pail is ready to go. We tried putting a bit of kitty litter in the bottom of the pail (outside the liner) so if the bag leaks the liquid "it" will be soaked up. But that became a mess. So we gave up on the kitty litter and don't worry about the bag leaking into the pail. The bag contains the solid "its"so the pail is "clean".

The whole system really is not that bad if you put down enough shavings or peat moss. Your really don't need to handle or even see the "its" when you get things working. It is easier to deal with than cleaning the flush toilet at home in many respects.

Check out my thread to see how our system works. We find it much better than worrying about water pipes or some hitech system.


# Posted: 14 Mar 2013 18:14

Anaerobic Fermentation

Composting without oxygen results in fermentation. This causes organic compounds to break down by the action of living anaerobic organisms. As in the aerobic process, these organisms use nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients in developing cell protoplasm. However, unlike aerobic decomposition, this reduces organic nitrogen to organic acids and ammonia. Carbon from organic compounds, is released mainly as methane gas (CH4). A small portion of carbon may be respired as CO2.

This anaerobic process takes place in nature. Examples include decomposing organic mud at the bottom of marshes and buried organic materials with no access to oxygen. Marsh gas is largely methane. Intensive reduction of organic matter by putrefaction is usually accompanied by unpleasant odors of hydrogen sulfide and of reduced organic compounds that contain sulfur, such as mercaptans (any sulfur-containing organic compound).

Since anaerobic destruction of organic matter is a reduction process, the final product, humus, is subject to some aerobic oxidation. This oxidation is minor, takes place rapidly, and is of no consequence in the utilization of the material.

EDIT: gases + sealed pail = somethings going to give, either the lid pops off or the pail splaits

There is enough heat energy liberated in the process to raise the temperature of the putrefying material. In the anaerobic dissolution of the glucose molecule, only about 26 kcal of potential energy per gram of glucose molecules is released compared to 484 to 674 kcal for aerobic decomposition. The energy of the carbon is in the released methane (CH4). The conversion of CH4 to CO2 produces large amounts of heat. This energy from anaerobic decomposition of organic matter can be used in engines for power and burned for heat.

Pathogens could cause problems in anaerobic composting because there is not enough heat to destroy them. However, aerobic composting does create high enough temperatures. Although heat does not play a part in the destruction of pathogenic organisms in anaerobic composting, they do disappear in the organic mass because of the unfavorable environment and biological antagonisms. They disappear slowly. The composted material must be held for periods of six months to a year to ensure relatively complete destruction of Ascaris eggs, for example. Ascaris are nematode worms that can infest the intestines. They are the most resistant of the fecal-borne disease parasites in wastes.

# Posted: 14 Mar 2013 19:19 - Edited by: rayyy

Lol,just take it out back every day and dump it out.
Throw a few hand fulls of fresh saw dust or wood chips in the bucket and your good to go for another day.No big deal.Mother Nature will take over from there.

# Posted: 15 Mar 2013 11:57

The best method is the saw dust one as many have pointed out already. It does not smell, it is easy, and it is environmentally friendly. Google the lovable loo for instructions on humanure composting.

# Posted: 16 Mar 2013 05:31

Thanks all.

very informative info there. The way that guy, who is an engineer who worked for big compost toilet manufactures, goes around that issues of gasses is by making a small 1/8" hole in the top to allow for gases to be released.

So there is oxygen going in, but not much and the bottom, like those mud examples in nature that were mentioned here, do not get any oxygen so they are still Anaerobic.

# Posted: 16 Mar 2013 10:03

If I were you, I would shoot that guy a comment/email on his blog and see what sort of results he got with his system.

# Posted: 18 Mar 2013 21:30

I am with bugs & rayyy sawdust compost and dump in the bin outside.
We did the port a potty first and hated the smell and the clean up.
But DH just loves the ease of the lovable loo. And it really does not smell. My 2 cents.

# Posted: 20 Mar 2013 08:08 - Edited by: BaconCreek

We went with a compost outhouse due to our rocky soil. Digging holes is just too hard. (We are approximately 20 miles from Mammoth Cave)
We use 2 feed buckets (flat back) and rotate these. We use cedar shavings to cover the mess. You can buy a bale at the pet section at most stores for about 8.00 and the bale has lasted a year with weekend use.
When I empty the bucket I try to dig a hole first but this isn't always possible. I usually dump it away from camp in the woods. By the time I dump it it ususally looks like a mound of cedar shavings. I leave the empty bucket in a clearing away from camp until it rains. It always airs out and we have had no problems.
In the summer we have had no smells. No flies. No snakes. Only one lizard. Lower portion of outhouse is vented on each side so there is always a nice breeze wafting through.
We also tried using RV toilet paper so it would break down in the compost but this did not work well for us.
The only thing I would do differently is have a styrofoam toilet seat.

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