Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Word On Composting Toilets

One of the things that we did with our new home that many people thought we were crazy, is a composting toilet.

I can't even remember where we bought it from, but it was a total unit. The toilet was on the inside of the house, and the composter was on the out side. The composter was of the variety that allowed you to manually rake the waste into a pan for disposal. It included a solar powered fan that dissipated the smell and dried the waste. It required "feeding" every month or so with microbes to help break down the waste faster. The toilet looked very conventional except for the absence of the tank on top. It used very little water, just enough to get the waste down the hole. The unit together, was rather pricey which made this mistake an expensive one.

It was a mistake, however, not for the reason you might think. I am fully confident the unit would have worked just fine, if it had been installed properly. We had the contractor that built the house add a pit for the unit to sit in. We gave him the specifications required for proper installation and functionality, but somewhere, it didn't turn out deep enough nor wide enough to work right. Consequently, the unit was a fight from day one.

We kept it for about a year, maybe two, and decided to call in a fella to dig and install a sceptic tank. I had to totally re-do the bathroom floor and install the plumbing for the new toilet. This took a little work and ingenuity, but I got it done. With that, we went conventional.

We enjoy the "normal" system, but do advocate a non-conventional style whenever possible. Like I said, we would probably still be using the composter if it were done right.

It is a lesson learned. However, being tied to the grid (electric well pump) to feed the toilet can be a little troublesome. If the power goes out for an extended time or the well runs dry, then we're in a pickle. That being said, there are ways around that, also.

Tell me, what are some non-conventional things you have done on your homestead? I like to talk about these things as it always gives insight in places you never thought of. Let's hear from you.

1 comment:

The Watchman said...

I experimented with humanure a little last year. Even tried to convince my wife that we should get a composting toilet, I lost her when I explained how it worked. I researched several methods, some less attractive than the whole unit you bought. One was a two buckets, one with a toilet seat lid and another with saw dust or straw. People with large gardens or small farms would profit greatly from this. Instead I ended up with a barrel out by the garage. I used dirty diapers for the microbes and would add anything I found in the yard for compost. It worked great, no smell because properly composting material will not put of a rotting smell. A 55 gallon barrel never got full, I would add and add and get it close to full but the composting lil' microbes would keep breaking it down.