How to Make a Composting Toilet
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How to Make a Composting Toilet

Solve sewer and septic issues with a humanure composting toilet. Learn how to make your own bucket bano.

Making your own green toilet with a bucket, a toilet seat and some sawdust or other wood debris creates the perfect option for camping or the rustic cabin with no septic tank. Remarkably odor-free, these green portable potties solve sewer and septic problems. Plus, you have to admit that talking about how to make a composting toilet makes for hilarious conversation about pooping in a bucket.

The simplest version of your environmentally-friendly porta-potty has a toilet seat placed on top of a bucket. For child-proofing and more stability, the seat can be attached over a hold in a nice cabinet or a homemade wooden frame with the bucket inside a hinged, locked door. A wooden frame or cabinet is preferable because a hinged door makes for easy bucket replacement, and the seat can be screwed to the frame, making the whole setup look more "normal."

Set your facility up in an accessible area or behind closed doors if you need extra privacy. Keep a scoop in a bucket of nearby wood shavings, and place a roll of biodegradable toilet paper within easy reach. After the deed is done, cover it up with a layer of mulch. If each deposit is thoroughly covered with wood materials, leaves, and other neutral compost, the smell of the toilet will not be noticeable. In fact, users should be able to place their face near the open lid of this woodsy port-potty and only smell wood shavings. As soon as they are covered, urine and excrement alike will be absorbed and start to break down immediately.

The online Humanure Handbook offers clear instructions, pictures and videos about how to make and maintain various styles of composting toilets. Personal experience may vary, but this author was impressed with how one bucket took care of a family of two adults and one child for an entire week in the wilds of Montana.

For regular use, clean your green toilet at least once weekly and deposit waste into a secluded compost area. Because compost piles crave moisture, dump the rinse water into the compost pile. Rinse the bucket with water from a rain barrel if possible. Use environmentally-friendly dish soap and a scrub brush used solely for this task. Cover the humanure with grass trimmings or hay to keep it looking nice. Turn the inner layers with a pitchfork every time more compost is added. Kitchen scraps and garden leavings may be included as well. Allow a full year for thorough breakdown of bacteria, mulching the pile into next year's garden. Gutter water can also be directed to drain down into the compost pile. Be sure to keep the compost pile contained or fenced so that small chlldren and animals are not tempted to play in or around it.

If you know how to make a composting toilet, you can save water, plumbing costs, and connect with the earth. Waste isn't wasted when it's returned to the ground. It will produce more food, bringing the cycle of sustenance full-circle back to benefit us again and again. And, once again, DIY toilets offer limitless laughs!


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