Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Worms and toilets

So, if you don't want to hear details about poop and stuff, don't read this post. Otherwise, here's my latest experiment going on in Fy Nyth! I have a composting toilet (a Natures Head, see my post with detail about that here) and one day wondered what would happen if I added composting worms to it?

 Some background, I have had composting worms as "pets" for a while. They eat my biodegradable kitchen scraps and turn it into great fertilizer. And they turn big piles of stuff into little piles. It occurred to me that would be a helpful trait if I don't want to empty the solids bin in my toilet as frequently. (So far it has been in use about three months and has yet to be emptied once.) And the worm castings would make a more compleatly composted material much faster.

Over my move into my new place, my old batch of worms got mad at me for neglecting them I think, and decided to all die on me. So I ordered some new ones. These are red wigglers, they are tiny and reproduce rapidly. They arrived healthy and live as you can see below. I added some water as soon as the arrived so they could start to recover from being shipped and then added them to the solids bin.

This is what the compost looks like inside my toilet after more than two months of use. Below is just after adding my worms to the mix. Now they are all burrowed down into it, and harder to see. I'm curious to see if they like it there and stay happy. I'll update this info once they and I have some time to decide how it's going. 

In case you are interested in a similar set up for your tiny house or RV, following are links to some of the items I use and describe in this post. If you buy them through my link, you will be helping me pay the bills here in my tiny house!



  1. HI Ariel,

    Thank you for all the great information. Question. You mentioned compost. Which compost do you use? Sawdust, Peat Moss or CoCo? Also have you ever opened the toilet only to see a worm that crawled upward? (Excuse my ignorance...I'm totally clueless about composting) And ok I'm a little freaked out about a worm crawling upward while I'm sitting. lol. Thank you.

    1. So far I've used peat moss since it is the easiest to obtain here. I'd probably rather use coconut coir, but no one here sells it at least in the winter.

      The worms don't really like light and they want to stay in the dirt. When they were in my kitchen compost, they lived in a bucket that had holes the whole way to the bottom for ventilation. Worms could have easily crawled out any of those holes, into anywhere in the kitchen. But none ever did. They have no desire to leave their home as long as there is moist dark stuff for them to stay in. If you filled the bin with water, they'd probably try to leave to avoid drowning, and if it got totally dry and hard inside, they would just dehydrate and die, I don't think they could leave then. It's rare to even be able to see a worm on the surface if you open the bin. You wouldn't have any problem with worms crawling up or being anywhere near where you sit that I can see.

  2. If I get a compost toilet, how much peat moss would I have to put in with each "job?" How big is a bag and how often do you replace it?

    1. I just filled the toilet about half full with peat moss when I first got it and only added a little more when I added this last batch of worms. Other than that, I haven't added any in the three months I have been using it. The Natures Head has a "beater" in the bin that you can crank to mix each new "job" down into the existing compost. The bag of peat moss I got was pretty large. I don't know exactly how large since I don't still have the wrapper. But at this rate one bag will last me two years or more.

      Next time I will probably buy coconut coir instead though. It's more sustainable and easier to find in smaller bags so I don't have to store as much.

  3. HI Folks, regarding worms and humanure, my wife and I have been using a simple 5 gallon bucket with a toilet seat on top for 15 years here at 7000 ft in New Mexico. We typically pee afield except when using the bucket for solids. We add sawdust with every use, and dump the full bucket into our straw bale chicken/worm house (separate compartments for each). The worms never freeze, we keep kitchen and poop compost and worms separate. The worms do a great job on both. We cover the piles with epdm to keep it moist. Works fantastic, costs nothing!
    Carl in Taos

  4. Replies
    1. Here's my more recent post on the topic.