Builtin Sawdust Toilet With Hinged Seat

The above diagram and photos below show a simple sawdust toilet permanently built into a toilet room. The compost receptacle (bucket) sits directly on the floor. A standard toilet seat is attached to an 18" square piece of plywood, which lifts on hinges to allow easy access when removing the compost material. Bucket setback from the front edge of the plywood is 1&1/2". Top surface of plywood is 1/2" lower than top of bucket rim allowing bucket to protrude through cabinet to contact bottom of toilet seat ring. Plastic bumpers on bottom of toilet seat ring are swiveled sideways so as to fit around bucket. Actual toilet shown below. This toilet produces no odor.

Sawdust Toilets

even after a thorough washing. Replace odorous buckets with new ones in order to maintain an odor-free system. The old buckets will lose their odor if left to soak in clean, soapy water for a lengthy period (perhaps weeks), rinsed, sun-dried and perhaps soaked again, after which they can be used for utility purposes (or, if you really have a shortage of buckets, they can be used in the toilet again).

Here's a helpful hint: when first establishing such a toilet system, it's a good idea to acquire at least four five-gallon buckets with lids, that are exactly the same, and more if you intend to compost for a large number of people. Use one under the toilet seat and the other three, with lids, set aside in the toilet room, empty and waiting. When the first becomes full, take it out of the toilet, put a lid on it, set it aside, and replace it with one of the empty ones. When the second one fills, take it out, put the other lid on it, set it aside, and replace it with the other empty one. Now you have two full compost buckets, which can be emptied at your leisure, while the third is in place and ready to be used. This way, the time you spend emptying compost is cut in half, because it's just as easy to carry two buckets to the compost pile as one. Furthermore, you potentially have a 20-gallon toilet capacity at any one time instead of just five gallons. You may find that extra capacity to come in very handy when inundated with visitors.

Why should all of the buckets be exactly the same? If you build a permanent toilet cabinet, the top of the bucket should protrude through the cabinet to contact the bottom of a standard toilet seat. This ensures that all organic material goes into the container, not over its edge. Although this is not usually a problem, it can be with young children who may urinate over the top of a bucket receptacle when sitting on a toilet. A good design will enable the bucket to fit tightly through the toilet cabinet as shown in Figures 8.1 and 8.4. Since all plastic buckets are slightly different in height and diameter, you should build your toilet cabinet to fit one size bucket. You should have extra identical buckets when backup capacity is needed to accommodate large numbers of people.

Theoretically, with enough containers, a sawdust toilet system can be used for any number of people. For example, if you are using a sawdust toilet in your home, and you are suddenly visited by thirty people all at once, you will be very happy to have empty containers ready to replace the ones that fill up. You will also be very happy that you will not have to empty any compost containers until after your company leaves, because you can simply set them out of the way, with lids, in the toilet room as they fill up, and then empty them

Composting Outhouse Containers
Composting Bucket Toilet

Turn other bumpers sideways. Lift box off bucket to empty compost.

See also figures 8.1 and 8.2

Turn other bumpers sideways. Lift box off bucket to empty compost.

See also figures 8.1 and 8.2

Toilet SawdustSawdust Toilet Urine

DO — Collect urine, feces, and toilet paper in the same toilet receptacle. Urine provides essential moisture and nitrogen.

DO — Keep a supply of clean, organic cover material handy to the toilet at all times. Rotting sawdust, peat moss, leaf mould, and other such cover materials prevent odor, absorb excess moisture, and balance the C/N ratio.

DO — Keep another supply of cover material handy to the compost bins for covering the compost pile itself. Coarser materials such as hay, straw, weeds, leaves, and grass clippings, prevent odor, trap air in the pile, and balance the C/N ratio.

DO — Deposit humanure into a depression in the top center of the compost pile, not around edges.

DO — Add a mix of organic materials to the humanure compost pile, including all food scraps.

DO — Keep the top of the compost pile somewhat flat. This allows the compost to absorb rainwater, and makes it easy to cover fresh material added to the pile.

DO — Use a compost thermometer to check for thermophilic activity. If your compost does not seem to be adequately heating, use the finished compost for berries, fruit trees, flowers, or ornamentals, rather than food crops. Or allow the constructed pile to age for two full years before garden use.

Thermophilic Compost Toilet

DON'T — Segregate urine or toilet paper from feces.

DON'T — Turn the compost pile if it is being continuously added to and a batch is not available. Allow the active thermophilic layer in the upper part of the pile to remain undisturbed.

DON'T — Use lime or wood ashes on the compost pile. Put these things directly on the soil.

DON'T — Expect thermophilic activity until a sufficient mass has accumulated.

DON'T — Deposit anything smelly into a toilet or onto a compost pile without covering it with a clean cover material.

DON'T — Allow dogs or other animals to disturb your compost pile. If you have problems with animals, install wire mesh or other suitable barriers around your compost, and underneath, if necessary.

DON'T — Segregate food items from your humanure compost pile. Add all organic materials to the same compost bin.

DON'T — Use the compost before it has fully aged. This means one year after the pile has been constructed, or two years if the humanure originated from a diseased population.

DON'T — Worry about your compost. If it does not heat to your satisfaction, let it age for a prolonged period, then use it for horticultural purposes.

the next day.

Experience has shown that 150 people will require four five-gallon containers during a serious party. Therefore, always be prepared for the unexpected, and maintain a reserve toilet capacity at all times by having extra toilet receptacles available, as well as extra cover material. Incidentally, for every full container of compost material carried out of a toilet room, a full, same-sized container of cover material will need to be carried in. You cannot successfully use this sort of toilet without an adequate supply of appropriate cover material.

Expecting five hundred people for a major gathering out in the woods? Sawdust toilets will work fine, as long as you keep enough buckets handy, as well as adequate cover materials. With a system set up to compost the material and some volunteers to manage it all, you will collect a lot of valuable soil nutrients.

The advantages of a sawdust toilet system include low financial start-up cost in the creation of the facilities, and low, or no energy consumption in its operation. Also, such a simple system, when the refuse is thermophilically composted, has a low environmental cost as little or no technology is required for the system's operation and the finished compost is as nice and benign a material as huma-nure can ever hope to be. No composting facilities are necessary in or near one's living space, although the toilet can and should be inside one's home and can be quite comfortably designed and totally odor-free.

No electricity is needed and no water is required except a small amount for cleaning purposes. One gallon of water can clean two five gallon buckets. It takes one adult two weeks to fill two five gallon toilet buckets with humanure and urine, including cover material. This requires one gallon of cleaning water for every two weeks of sawdust toilet use as opposed to the standard thirty gallons per person per day used to flush a water toilet.

The compost, if properly managed, will heat up sufficiently for sanitation to occur, thereby making it useful for gardening purposes. The composting process is fast, i.e., the humanure is converted quickly — within a few days if not frozen — into an inoffensive substance that will not attract flies. In cold winter months the compost may simply freeze until spring thaw, then heat up. If the compost is unmanaged and does not become thermophilic, the compost can simply be left to age for a couple of years before horticultural use. In either case, a complete natural cycle is maintained, unbroken.

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  • Mattia
    How to build a sawdust toilet?
    8 years ago

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