Date: 13 September 2015. Composting Toilet How-To.
Guest author Mungo onboard the
This piece is for
The Writer's Block.
A website visitor, Pam, has been following the
Floating Empire blog and sent me a link. On reading this article
I could well imagine others would be as interested as I am in a way
to "beat the system" of porta-potties. For those of us on a budget,
this is one to consider. Written by Mungo aboard the shantyboat he
Floating Empire, it's not your usual kitty-litter solution to waste
A shantyboat is a type of
houseboat, generally home constructed from materials at hand. Mungo
and his bride Morgainne built The Floating Empire.
This is Floating Empire last winter
No S**T, The joys of the
composting toilet. Okay, first of all, I'll say this again, what I
have to tell people, ad infinitum ad nauseum: No, it doesn't smell.
The composting toilet setup aboard Floating Empire
It amazes me why on earth anyone
would mess with black water systems, pump-outs, incinerator toilets,
luggable porta-potties with holding tanks you have to empty, when
they could just use a bucket and a sawdust toilet. This thing has
proven so very easy to live with, so very easy to do, that I'm
almost surprised anything else exists.
Our toilet is simple: We have a 5
gallon bucket. We cut off the top rim of it so it would sit inside
ANOTHER 5 gallon bucket. So the top 1/3 or so bucket is affixed to
the toilet box cover and the lower one sits below, kept aligned to
the upper one by the nesting design of these things. This also keeps
the liner in place.
The cut off half bucket...okay, so I was a little jagged. The
fitting is from the urine diverter that we ultimately decided we
didn't need. The rim of the upper bucket keeps it from popping
through the plywood and it's taper keeps it nested in its lower
cousin. Apologies for my arm being in the way, but I had to hold the
thing open somehow.....
We line the lower toilet with a
biodegradable bag and put 2" or so of either sawdust or wood pellets
(more on this later) in the bottom. We have a snap on toilet seat
and cover made by Luggable Loo on the top toilet, which gives us
both a toilet seat and a snug closure.
Here's the snap on toilet seat from Luggable Loo. You can also see the
upper and lined lower buckets.
Whenever you use the toilet, you throw in a handful of absorbent
material. We've used crushed dry leaves, sawdust (not from treated
lumber....it inhibits the decomposition process), pine based cat
litter (don't use the clay stuff), and wood stove pellets. As long
as you throw in enough to lightly cover what you just...uh...left,
there's no odor except one of damp wood. No, really, it doesn't
smell. It doesn't. Not at all. My Cat box smells more than the
When the lower container is 3/4
full, we pull it out and either put it in the compost bin or throw
it in a dumpster (can you do that? What do you think happens to all
those disposable diapers?). The last time I tossed it in a dumpster,
the bag broke. It looked like a pile of wet oatmeal, no odor but one
of decomposing wood, no loose liquids at all.
So then you reline the lower
bucket, toss in another 2" of material, and you're ready to
continue. With the two of us living on the boat, we dump the thing
about every 5 days or so.
As for the biomass, our big
accidental find was the hardwood pellets for pellet stoves.
Yes, these things. Compressed hardwood sawdust made for pellet
We got a bag of the stuff for use
in our gasifier stove, and when we ran out of sawdust, I remembered
what happened at the big box store at which I had been working when
one of the bags of the stuff broke and got wet. The compressed
pellets, made of hardwood sawdust, expanded as they absorbed the
As a result, the pellets are a
good deal more compact than sawdust to carry and store, but expand
rapidly to absorb any moisture from the compost and seem to
decompose just fine. Better, a bag of the stuff is about $5 for
around 40 lbs., which will last you months.
As a small aside on the wood stove pellets, we've
found that the local vendors are willing to sell us damaged and
broken bags at half price or less. If they get damp, the bags
are useless for wood stoves, but work just fine in the
composting toilet :)
Be sure to get
the "natural" kind that doesn't use oil as a binder and has no
other additives, and be aware that not all the pellets are
compressed hardwood. Some are cherry pits or other materials. Read
Seriously, folks, this is the
absolutely easiest way to deal with your leavings and to meet Coast
And, really...it doesn't smell.
The Floating Empire
Thanks to Mungo for
allowing me to repost this article. The original can be found on
The Floating Empire. His website is worth perusing.
The Floating Empire is about the design, construction, and
launching of the vessel "Floating Empire", an electrically
driven boat utilizing recycled and repurposed materials and a
mix of modern and 18th and 19th century technologies to reduce
The vessel is a tiny house barrel barge, simply
built of castoff materials and
easily available parts, providing an easy living space for an
individual or couple.
The Writer's Block,
Making a Shelf
(and paper towel holder) ~
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