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Author Topic: Composting toilet  (Read 2980 times)

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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Composting toilet
« on: May 29, 2021, 06:53:29 PM »
   A year or so back I built a 4X4 building as a bus stop and have since advertised them as a small shed, outhouses, composting toilets and even built one, although a little small IMHO, as a deer blind. A lady across the state line in Covington VA ordered one as a composting toilet so I have been building my first one and it is a learning experience. To keep the weight manageable for one person and for ease of construction, disassembly and reassembly I build the floor/base as one unit then pre-fab the 4 walls then build a 6X6 metal roof. I lag screw the sides to the floor then together then slip the top/roof on and it holds everything together. Everything can be disconnected into the basic components and reassembled on site.

  I always figured a toilet would just be a matter of adding the box with a hole cut in it and a container to hold the waste and sawdust if a composting toilet or a hole in the floor and a lined chute if a deep pit head. I figured I'd build the seat to fit across the sides and connect to the back. I'd have to remove to take the building apart to move it. When I started building I found it was actually much easier than that. What I'm finding is the seat can be built as a free standing box that can be removed as a separate and independent unit. A plastic tote can be added underneath and the front can have a pair of doors or a simple removeable front panel. No sides or back are needed.  

Completed size is 40" wide, 17" high, 22" deep. That is a 20" ash board in the middle with the cut-out, 1X10's on each side, a 1X4 nailed to 4-2"X4"X16" legs and 1X4 stretchers on the back and maybe the sides but not on the bottom at the front. I traced the cut-out from a factory toilet seat/ring and cut it out with a jig saw. Pretty tedious but it turned out well. And I have the cut-out piece set aside a a pattern for next time.

The opening underneath is 12" high from the bottom of the 1X4 but it could be tilted back and a tote up to 16" deep could be used as a catch basin.

 The top stretcher is a 1" X 4" X 20" on the sides and 1"X 4" X 40" on the front (1) and back (2). I may add 2 more stretchers on the sides closer to the bottom but it seems plenty stable right now.

The top is made from boards 22" long with 2" past the frame on the back to accommodate a factory toilet seat, ring and lid if desired. These only cost about $10 at Lowes. Or a wide board could be cut and hinged as a cover if no factory seat is used. This one one is for a lady customer so I figured we'd keep it a little more upscale than for a bunch of hairy-legged hardtails.

  I'll close that gap under the front with a couple of hinged 1X12's or a single removable 1X12 panel to access the tote underneath. Now I need to find a plastic tote about 12"-16" tall X 18"-20" front to back and 30"-36" wide to fit the space underneath.

   You can see part of the floor, including lag screws holding the sides to the floor, and part of the framing. I'll nail 6" wide boards with 3" battens to enclose it.

   If I ever get caught up I figure I may pre-fab one or two of these to keep in stock. The nice part about the design of this composting box is it just fits in a shed so it can be added or left off as needed if the customer just wants a bus stop or shed.
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline peakbagger

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2021, 06:37:09 AM »
I am surprised you dont have a vent stack incorporated in the design. Generally the box is sealed from the rest of the shelter and a vent pipe is connected to the top of the box and run through the roof. The vent has a grille on it to keep critters out I have also seen people who buy solar roof fans and install them on the vent. When the seat is open, the vent flow is down through the seat and out the roof.

Offline bitternut

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2021, 06:54:35 AM »
I attended a woods walk once that had one of those composting toilets located in a separate enclosed room of a small building. You know, much like a regular bathroom. It definitely had no vent. You knew where it was the minute you opened the door. :o :D

The men present opted to use the woods. The women I think opted to tough it out. :laugh:

Best make plans to incorporate a VENT!!!!!

Offline Tacotodd

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2021, 07:18:08 AM »
I generally dont use this part of the Forum, but Ive ALWAYS been interested in the composting toilet ideas. Itd make it nice for me & my bride for da woods in which we hunt. Please continue with the post, just so that I have more ideas & information, PLEASE!
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Offline Dan_Shade

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2021, 07:48:45 AM »
My understanding is if a composting toilet smells, it needs more sawdust. 
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2021, 08:55:56 AM »
  A year or so back I built a 4X4 building as a bus stop and have since advertised them as a small shed, outhouses, composting toilets and even built one, although a little .  
. That is a 20" ash board in the middle with the cut-out,  (Image hidden from quote, click to view.)

Yes, butt what kind of wood is it?   :o :o   :) :)   :D :D    one key is to recommend minimizing the liquid.  best to pee outside if you can.  many porta pottis have a separate urinal.  At Philmont, you were not to void into the out houses.  It is the liquid that evaporates and makes the smell. It also fills the tank/bucket faster. that is what the saw dust attempts to do is coat and soak up and seal the stool.  I would recommend at least two buckets so they can be changed out for dumping.  fine saw dust works the best.  A trauma surgeon friend likes my table saw dust the best.  he has an off grid cabin made from walnut.

 
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2021, 09:19:26 AM »
   I mentioned the two holer concept to the customer and she said if she had to do a #2 she'd go back to the house. The container is not sealed and build up of methane gas is not a big concern. I'm of the "Add more sawdust camp" or change it out if there is significant smell. I'll provide her plenty of sawdust initially and more any time she is passing by.

 Around 2003 my mailroom guy in Cameroon, Roger Mballa, called on the radio one morning "Help me. I'm wounded." I sent another co-worker, Louis Penda, who knew where he lived with a driver and they got to his home and found it basically destroyed. In Douala and other parts of Cameroon they build attached bathrooms with a deep pit head with no vent. He had stepped into his bathroom with a pan of water to take a sponge bath before coming to work and either flipped a light switch with an electric short or, since he smoked, he may have flipped a cigarette butt into the toilet and it blew up. He crawled out just before the concrete front fell behind him. I remember he had 2nd and 3rd degree burns so bad they cut his Achilles tendons to allow for the tightening of the skin on his legs. They later attached his tendons (Which I did not you you could do) and he walked with a cane for months and several years later I came back for a visit and saw him and he was pretty much back to walking normally.

  As to the wood type the framing is poplar and spruce, the flooring is ash on treated pine 2X6s, the box is poplar and ash. The wide ash board seemed perfect for this application so I used it. I even sanded the top (mostly to hide my saw marks from my 7-1/4" circle saw when I cut off 2" off the front for a better fit).
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline doc henderson

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2021, 09:41:17 AM »
Yes... Ash wood for the seat!   :) :) :)  looks like a good place to put your Ash...  wood. :D  for me it never gets old, sorry for the rest of you!
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline Magicman

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2021, 09:50:07 AM »
An experienced sawyer could always empty the sawdust from his pockets as he dropped his pants.  :o
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2021, 10:09:35 AM »
Around 25-30 years ago we were on that road that runs through the mtns from near Ouray, CO over to Silverton, CO and this guy told us the solar composting toilet on the side of that dirt road was put in by the Feds for a cost of what I remember to be like nearly $300,000. Was bricks and made me think I'd like to build some for them next time around. Maybe Harold's about to cash in?  :)
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2021, 10:10:43 AM »
Or leave the pockets (as I've done) and be sent to bed with no supper...
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2021, 03:54:38 PM »
Doc,

 I was not going to fall for your butt log or ash wood jokes because I figured you would just suggest I turn the box upside down on the mill and cut the legs off like I do my benches like you tell me to do with everything else I make. ;)

EDIT: I just returned from town and I did find a plastic tote at WalMart I think will do well as well as a couple of 12" piano hinges and got a couple of pairs of 2" butt (No comment Doc) hinges so I can use either for the window or the front. I am inclined to just cut a 1"X12"X40" for and let them remove it every time they want to access the tote. Someone did suggest adding a little Rid Ex bacteria.

Doc,

  On the porta-johns if you look closely you will see the urinal hose runs right into the tank with the rest of the blue water. They are designed to to be emptied regularly and not sit there and compost or break down. Port-johns were the bane of my existence when I was in the USMC and had to order them for major exercises. I'd rent every available porta-john within 100 miles of Jacksonville NC and I had a desk drawer full of Camp LeJeune Base maps from the G-2 guys and routinely had to conduct map reading classes with fuzzy headed porta john truck drivers wearing rubber boots to show them how to find the 6 digit map reference where he was to deliver and pick up the porta-johns for the joint service exercises. On one exercise the guys pumper truck broke and we nearly had to shut down the exercise for medical concerns and the colonel was getting chewed on by the CG then chewed on me and I told him the guy was a civilian and all I could do was refuse to pay the rent on them. I could not court martial him. When I worked in Iraq and Afghanistan they remained a big issue and I grew no fonder of them there either. Have you ever plopped your already cold butt down a frozen, cracked plastic toilet seat in Bagram in the winter? There should be a FF restriction against ever mentioning a Port-John. dadgum you, Charlie!
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2021, 05:14:40 PM »
Did somebody mention porta-potties? I bought one of the tall ones, the pricey brand & never been used cheap from a lady in TN who sold her boat before she used it. It's gonna be the john in my off-grid cabin. 
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2021, 07:12:23 PM »
   Is it vented? :D
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2021, 08:16:35 AM »
On a serious composting note, there's a guy on FB WM group recently who saws for a living who had what he said was a fire caused by a Porta-Potty that caught on fire from what I gathered was poop that got hot while decomposing. It burned down his building, mill and a huge bunch of lumber. 
I've owned them before the one I just bought and never thought about it getting hot as flush water is in the cesspool of nasties. 

The place where we buy our mulch near Salt Lick, KY is located on an old saw mill site where the wood refuse piled over many years caught fire before I came here in 1973 and was burning down deep in the ground. They tried for years to doze deep trenches, far enough down to get it out and it took several tries over a long period before finally doused. I think the taxpayers paid the final solution bill. 
 Now it's a mulch plant where many local mills haul their de-barker bark & soil or sawdust for processing into natural or dyed mulch. Years ago all the white wood dust went to north to OH at the Mead Papermill, now composted at least partially. I buy a trailer load and the stored leftover mulch is piled under a tarp on a bank in the edge of the woods. It gets hot enough to make white ashes down deep in the pile but never seen it smoke any. 
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2021, 09:54:16 AM »
the fancy ones actually have a heating element that dehydrates the "product".  the only reason human waste is different, than say cow manure that we spread on fields for crops, is the low volume and low fiber and the idea.  If it is well composted outside, then their should be no odor, or risk of bacterial disease from the food that is produced.  the actual composting is not intended to happen in the bucket inside the shed.  the heated one actually puts out a dry odorless product (it says in the lit.).  If used a lot, I would make a receptacle away from the cabin to dump buckets, that helps keep animals, especially pets out.  I have been told that if used by one person or used rarely, that you can go several days with dumping.  I think I would dump daily if this is inside the cabin.  although at 2 am, I would wait till morning.  It takes a little gumption to use an outdoor commode in the dead of winter.  At Trappers you wonder if your bottom might stick.  It is best to be in  a short line, as the seat is not as cold.   :) :snowball:.  If for an indoor cabin, and Women are involved, I would consider a two seater, to sperate urine and feces.  It will keep the smell down.  or a seat that is piped outside for urine.  A weapon used at our local prison, it a mix of stool and urine, and it get thrown in your face.  I have known a few guys with a plastic jug fabbed urinal on the inside of their shop, plumbed outside.  OK I am done. 
@WV Sawmiller I guess you could cut the bottom out of the jug on your sawmill.  :D :D :D 
 
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline farmfromkansas

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2021, 10:26:33 AM »
Thinking of building one of these for the farm yard, and for occasional use, why not use a pan like Howard is using, and just dumping it out after using it?  Could just keep a bag of sawdust inside to replenish the sawdust. I have lots of plastic tubs left over from protein I feed to the calves.
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2021, 10:38:35 AM »
I think the mineral tubs are pretty big, and I would want a way to carry it so it does not get on me, like a handle on a bucket.  I think if it is an "outhouse"  you could do whatever.  If it is for a room in a habitable space like a cabin, you needed the saw dust to cover, or dump after each use.  In winter there should be less smell, as the liquid is less likely to evaporate.  Remember, that smelling is a form of tasting something inside you mouth and nose.   :o   :)  I think a bucket with a handle and a lid would be great for carrying it through the cabin outside.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline pineywoods

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2021, 11:00:32 AM »
I built one for a friend. Uses empty 5 gallon plastic buckets that originally held hydraulic oil. He doesn't bother emptying, just toss the bucket in the slab burn pile.
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Composting toilet
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2021, 12:24:55 PM »
the bottom layer of sawdust, keeps the poo from sticking to the bucket and pulls some moisture.  the top cover decreases surface area for rapid evaporation.  you can use it till nearly full and you will learn the ways of the dark side (sorry) quickly if you pay attention to what works and what stinks.  
remember if 100,000,000 million grown men in the US would pee outside 6 x a day and not use the 1.6 gallons to flush a toilet, it would save...  350,400,000,000 gallons of drinking water per year.
many places use dried dung to heat, even for cooking.  someday we will use our poop to run a generator to power our cars.   :)
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor


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