Home   |   The Boat   |   First Mate   |   Admiral   |   Guestbook 

Date: 13 September 2015. Composting Toilet How-To.
Guest author Mungo onboard the Floating Empire.

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 built named Floating Empire, this is not your usual kitty-litter solution to waste management.

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.


Luggable Loo is a product line from Reliance. The company offers a multitude of products including the full units, snap on lids, bio-bags and more. J.


Reliance Products Luggable Loo Portable 5 Gallon Toilet

←The complete  Luggable Loo Portable 5 Gallon Toilet set-up

affiliate links

The Luggable Loo Seat Cover  snap on lid→

Reliance Products Luggable Loo Seat Cover


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 toilet does.

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 stoves.

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 water.

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 the bag.

Seriously, folks, this is the absolutely easiest way to deal with your leavings and to meet Coast Guard regs.....

And, really...it doesn't smell.

The End

Mungo on 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 blog 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 carbon footprint.


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.



Regarding the Comments Section, found at the end of every article:

  • Before you type in each block be sure to hit the backspace key. Coding inserts a space in every box. Your email address will come back as malformed unless you remove that space. (You don't have to include your email address.)

  • The capcha is case sensitive.


2015, 2023

Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Gear, Pets, Recommendations, The Writer's Block, Unmentionables

Making a Shelf (and paper towel holder)  ~ Previous Post  ...   
Next Post ~ Stone-Wave Sticks


The Archive holds a running list with synopsis of published articles, and links to same.

A favorite aphorism:  If you would not be forgotten as soon as you're dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing. Benjamin Franklin.

Contributions to my Cruising Kitty via
are always appreciated.

Every gift helps.

The Cruising Kitty is what boaters refer to as spending money. There's never enough aboard Seaweed!

I am also an Amazon Affiliate.

My Buddy, and his girlfriend...

Copyright Janice Marois  |  Home  |  Archive  |  Topics  |  Boat List  |  Site Map  |  Email Me  |