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smokensqueal
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Composting Toilets - Are you a dedicated composter?

Sorry, I just saw this and had to laugh a little. :lol:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composting_toilet

But one question I had was I thought you weren't suppose to use human waist to compost. I could see how this would be good for a cabin but for your home?

Anyway if you are a dedicated composter do you have one of these or something like it in your house?

petalfuzz
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I think the main reason we are discouraged from putting any waste from meat-eaters in the compost pile is because of varmints. And it would smell to high heaven, probably.

These toilets are self-contained or compost in closed containers, so varmints would be absent. And no odor as long as there's an airtight seal.

I wouldn't have one in my home, though! I may like to garden and ammend the soil, but I'm not a tree-hugging hippie!

cynthia_h
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I think I *may* be considered a tree-hugging hippie by some, but really, it was one of my sisters who stood out in a hurricane, holding the tree in our back yard in Tampa so that it wouldn't die/be blown over, back when we were kids.

The tree did survive. Sister ended up at the emergency room with an exacerbation of her asthma.

Regardless of my cultural leanings, I REALLY appreciate running water and basic standards of cleanliness. I'm using even less water than usual, now that our local water utility has declared drought conditions. Our most recent water bill showed that, even with the garden, our daily use was 91 gallons for May/June.

I think composting toilets may be good for people who build in rural areas where there aren't sewer connections, or perhaps hunting/skiing cabins?

The primary reason that use of manure from carnivores/omnivores (IOW, non-vegetarians) is so strongly discouraged is that numerous pathogens require high temps to be killed, and those temps are seldom achieved in home compost situations.

Then there's the "yuck factor."

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JennyC
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I was recently at a workshop that included a great deal about composting toilets, and the couple running the workshop have been composting "humanure" and using it on thier organic garden for many years, apparently safely. They do have running water, but it's all from a rainwater collection system.

I'd definitely be willing to go with the rainwater system before using human-waste compost on food crops. They compost at high temp and long term (a year per batch), but I keep thinking about what it takes to kill certain viruses. Maybe on windbreak (non-edible-fruit) trees. But not food crops.

I do like the way they've avoided the extreme water use associated with flush toilets and septic tanks. There was no smell problem in their home or in the other home we visited with composting toilet during that workshop. My husband said he detected a slight smell at the compost bins; I didn't. But there's sometimes some smell associated with any compost if you get close. So I can see the benefits.

But I keep coming back to disease, especially viral (bacteria are usually easier to kill). One visit from someone who's a hepatitis carrier (even unknowingly) and you could contaminate your whole system. Too risky. Not on food crops for me, thanks.

And I am a certified tree-hugger. :lol:
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smokensqueal
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You know I never through about it but maybe I'm a tree huging hippie. We live in an area some would consider rual. We have no way to connect to a "city" sewer system. When we built we put in an areation system with drip lines to distribute the water. So come to think about it I do recycle our waste. All the water we use and anything else we put down the drain goes into our back yard. The funny thing is I asked the company that put it in if I could use that water to set up a whole yard spinkler system or to use it to water my flowers. They said they've never heard of that but according to the EPA the water that comes out of the system is "drinkable" even though they don't recommend that. So I might be getting two for the price of one if I set up something to reuse that water. :lol:

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Composting toilets are not allowed in the state of TX. To bad because I live in an area that really could benefit from them. Droughts are common here. Wells have to be dug very deeply. Rocky area and so my septic system is not even buried, just partly submerged. If I could have a composting toilet, the compost would not go in my vegetable garden, but elsewhere.

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!potatoes!
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we're actually a little less high-tech than having a composting toilet. we've got a bucket with a toilet seat, and a just humanure/t.p./and sawdust compost pile, separate from the ones that don't have to age as long.

bad smells really don't last long at all at the pile.

we started last year, when our reservoir (spring-fed) went dry, and as we worked on it, we had to go somewhere. after that, it just made more sense. that there is a valuable nutrient rich commodity, after all, and dropping it in drinking water and mucking that up, requiring cleaning, and not keeping those nutrients on top of that? bad deal, in my book. yes, it's obviously more labor than just flushing, but the return justifies it, i think.

you can call me a hippy if you want, just don't make me listen to the dead. :wink:

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Re: Composting Toilets - Are you a dedicated composter?

smokensqueal wrote:Sorry, I just saw this and had to laugh a little. :lol:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composting_toilet

But one question I had was I thought you weren't suppose to use human waist to compost. I could see how this would be good for a cabin but for your home?

Anyway if you are a dedicated composter do you have one of these or something like it in your house?
This link will take you to the full text of the humanure handbook. It should answer all your questions.

https://weblife.org/humanure/
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TheWaterbug
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JennyC wrote:I'd definitely be willing to go with the rainwater system before using human-waste compost on food crops. They compost at high temp and long term (a year per batch), but I keep thinking about what it takes to kill certain viruses. Maybe on windbreak (non-edible-fruit) trees. But not food crops.
The Chinese have been using human waste as fertilizer since the beginning of time. They call it "night soil," and it's used without composting. It's just ladled out of their latrines and into their irrigation ditches.

Before you say "I would never eat anything grown with human waste . . . " keep in mind that China exports a lot of produce to the U.S. :D
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Texas.girl
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TheWaterbug wrote:Before you say "I would never eat anything grown with human waste . . . " keep in mind that China exports a lot of produce to the U.S. :D
Another good reason to grow your own veggies.

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rainbowgardener
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I lived with a composting toilet for years at my previous location and would love to have one again. If you think it through, it is really dumb and wasteful to use pure drinkable water just to flush our wastes away, especially when those "wastes" are rich in nutrients that would be beneficial for the garden.

The toilet we had, the wastes stayed in the drum for awhile being tumbled and mixed with sawdust. Then it was emptied into a drawer where it dried out for awhile. By the time you were emptying the drawer, it was pretty inoffensive. Just for safety sake we emptied the drawer into a separate compost pile from the regular one and used that on flowers not veggies. But I expect that was a higher level of caution than really needed. The final composted product was wonderful, dark and rich and loose like the best potting soil.

But no I wouldn't recommend just dumping raw sewage on your garden.
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Sun-Mar for over ten years now. https://www.sun-mar.com/prod_flush.html


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Vorguen
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What's stopping people from doing something like baking cat / dog / human manure? what about meat.. people say its not good to compost, why? Can't you bake it too make sure to kill anything wrong with it and if you have a pile inside say chicken wire put it in the middle to keep most varmints out?


just curious, wondering what truly stops people from composting anything organic, and why a microwave can't handle the things we are scared of like bacteria / worms / virus / etc?


also, why don't people compost dairy products very much?

cynthia_h
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Vorguen wrote:What's stopping people from doing something like baking cat / dog / human manure? what about meat.. people say its not good to compost, why? Can't you bake it too make sure to kill anything wrong with it and if you have a pile inside say chicken wire put it in the middle to keep most varmints out?


just curious, wondering what truly stops people from composting anything organic, and why a microwave can't handle the things we are scared of like bacteria / worms / virus / etc?


also, why don't people compost dairy products very much?
I've written a couple of extended posts about toxoplasmosis, an organism often found in cat waste. It is difficult to kill; even modern sewage plants often can't kill it. Just search on the key word with me as author and the posts will show up. There are only two or maybe three of them.

Toxoplasmosis isn't the only one, just the best known of the "difficult to kill" organisms found in the gut of meat-eating creatures like dogs, cats, and people. Most people's compost piles do not (reliably) hit temps high enough to even have a chance of killing such pathogens.

THAT is why we don't recommend composting these wastes. ==> It isn't safe. If you want to "bake it" in your own kitchen...well, I can't say I would ever recommend such a thing...sounds pretty repulsive, actually, but it's your house and your health. :?:

Dairy products tend to attract rats, mice, and other vermin. And that's why we don't recommend composting those in regular compost piles.

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Vorguen wrote:What's stopping people from doing something like baking cat / dog / human manure? what about meat.. people say its not good to compost, why? Can't you bake it too make sure to kill anything wrong with it and if you have a pile inside say chicken wire put it in the middle to keep most varmints out?


just curious, wondering what truly stops people from composting anything organic, and why a microwave can't handle the things we are scared of like bacteria / worms / virus / etc?


also, why don't people compost dairy products very much?
Nothing is stopping me :shock: . I compost humanure in 55 gallon barrels that I got for 10 bucks at a chile canning plant. I will put most anything in there, and get temperatures of 140+ regularly. The temperature is sustained for days after the feed. Gotta make sure to add enough straw so it gets proper oxygenation, but that's not a problem once you get the hang of it. I don't like the idea of doing it in piles on the ground, or using it on leaf/root veggies, but that's just me
We would not

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Vorguen
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hello cynthia, it was more of a thinking question than what i want to do... i suppose i was asking about how much people think some of these things are unsafe, but wouldn't 5 minutes in the microwave make them safe?


what about meat? if its thoroughly cooked and fine what would be wrong with putting it in a compost pile? yeah it attracts varmints but does it matter if your pile is inaccessible to them?


im trying to understand composting better thats all :)



also, will something like meat / chicken / dairy really attract varmints from the very center of a large compost pile?


also, what is stopping people from composting something as bizarre as dead skin cells? Say you use one of those ped egg things that scrape the skin off your feet and calices and they get collected in a little canister, it works similar to a cheese grater and the stuff stays on the inside..

?

composting still bewilders me lol

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rainbowgardener
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Baking your compost might make it safe if you were worried about pathogens. But it also 1) stinks up your house something awful (I know this from experience having tried sterilizing compost to make my own indoor seed starting mix) and 2) sterilizes the compost, killing all the earthworms and beneficial micro-organisms that are a lot of why we use compost anyway.

And no depending on where you live and what varmints you have around, burying meat in the middle of the pile will not keep critters from it. I don't eat meat, never have it in my compost pile, but just the veggie scraps I have in there (which I always do bury under layers of leaves, weeds, etc) mean my pile is regularly torn apart. And it is in a cage of heavy wire bars which should be close enough together to keep bigger critters like raccoons out.

This spring I'm having more varmint trouble than usual - the compost pile is so torn apart so often, I wonder if any kitchen scraps get to compost, worse than usual, my broccoli plants keep getting eaten even though they are caged in deer netting, and the bags of fall leaves I keep for composting and mulching keep getting torn open and spread all over. I've had bags of leaves around for years and never had this happen until this spring, when it has happened several times. What creature cares about getting to a bag of old leaves? It's not insects or slugs because the bags, even plastic bags, are torn apart and the leaves spread over a big area.
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rainbowgardener
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PS out on my deck watching the garden and got the answer to my question above re what critter would be tearing up the bags of leaves -- SQUIRRELS!

For some reason when I'm making my list of all the critters in the garden, I often forget the squirrels, though we have lots of them. Maybe there's walnuts or something in with the leaves or maybe they are just busy making nests.

It still doesn't answer why this year seems so worse re critter damage to lots of things, since we've always had the squirrels and other critters. Just a good year for them I guess...
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Ah I get what you mean Rainbow, but I guess what I meant is baking the compost before you put it in the pile.

I know it sounds gross and again im asking for curiosity but, wouldnt you be able to bake say if you have cat / dog / human manure then after its baked put it in the compost pile safely? Instead of reversely place them in the compost pile then bake the compost itself

I know you wouldn't want to kill the important stuff inside the compost, but why not kill the bad stuff before it makes your pile?

taking all the icky "i don't want to bake poo in my house" feelings aside, in pure scientific terms is it safe?

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Besides the gross factor and the stinking up the house factor and the never wanting to use your microwave for anything else factor, I don't know..

I know the Sun-Mar composting toilet we used to have had a heating element for the drawer. It didn't really bake the compost, just helped dry it out so that it was inoffensive to open the drawer. I don't know that I would have counted on that to eradicate any pathogens, it was more warming and drying than baking.

Here's a little article about what it takes to render humanure harmless, but it is focusing more on how to manage compost piles, so it is focused more on lower temps for longer times:

https://weblife.org/humanure/chapter7_19.html
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Vorguen, theoretically, that would work, but practically speaking it would be difficult to do with equipment and facilities available to the average homeowner.

In the future, though, I see a lot more decentralization of utilities and recycling because of the high costs of transportation and centralization. I don't know if it will happen with sewage, but I predict things like energy production and recycling (such as composting) will get closer to home as costs continue to go up.

Actually a sewage plant is a very well developed way to make human waste safe. Once it goes through aerobic and then high-temp anaerobic treatment, the sludge can be quite free of pathogens. We just have a few problems with all the metals, pesticides and pharmaceuticals before we can actually use it on the garden... :roll: :)
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Vorguen
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What about other organic things such as hair, nails, and even dead skin cells?

There are things such as the ped egg and they basically scrape off excess skin and calices off your feet similar to a cheese grater and when you open it the inside will be full of dead skin cell powder.


What would stop someone from composting that and say hair and nails?

rot
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Been there. Done that.

..
Already composting hair and nails and animal fur. Follow the ten percent rule on the fibrous stuff and mix well to avoid clumping.

The gift of the dogs goes into their own bins on two year cycles using the Joseph Jenkins methodology. No turning. Yeah it does get hot - 130 F for a week easy.
https://www.humanurehandbook.com/

I haven't bothered with meat. Just occasional dead squirrel.

Even if you nuke it in the microwave, stuff will still grow on it and it won't be healthy until it's digested.

Composting the hard stuff, humanure and so on, means more work and more care. You have to watch the drainage because undigested um, stuff, can leach out. You want to keep the vermin out so they don't spread um, stuff, about. If you're unwilling to manage such an operation, and I do mean manage, don't bother.

Decentralizing utilities might make economic sense but there's just irresponsible people out there. No sewer or septic system? Just throw it in the gutter or the neighbors yard as so frequently happened in the old days. People would get sick and die.

As long as it takes more than curbside pick up or just flushing a toilet, people are just going to be lousy with the waste stream. There are still people out there emptying their used motor oil in the gutters. Shall we add all the other human waste we can think of? Meds? Cleaners? Paint & paint thinners? Drain cleaners?

Neat ideas until you factor in the lowest common human denominator.

And just what would one do in the city? Even in the sub urban environment; just think how thrilled your neighbors would be to know you keep a pile of um, stuff, in the back yard.

to sense
..

toxcrusadr
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All good points, rot. I don't think we're anywhere close to declaring open season for the general populace!
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rot
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Careful what you wish for I guess

toxcrusadr wrote:All good points, rot. I don't think we're anywhere close to declaring open season for the general populace!
..
Yeah. I just had to get some um, stuff, yeah stuff, out there.

to sense
..

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