Thursday, March 26, 2015

Composting toilet - emptying the solids


Another post you don't want to read folks if you don't want to hear about poop! For the first time since moving in almost exactly 4 months ago, I needed to empty the solids bin on my toilet. (For more details on my set up in general, see this post.) I do empty the liquid container every week or so, but this was the first for the solid side of things. 

Now obviously the idea of a composting toilet it that the contents are composted. I've liked using mine so far, but still wondered how fast everything really would break down in there. If you read this post, or this one, you know I also added worms to my toilet to help speed up the decomposition. Well it seems to be working even better than I had hoped!

My best friend had assured me in no uncertain terms that I should never even think about asking for his help with this emptying chore. But really, it wasn't bad at all. In the first photo below you can see the bin with the last two days or so of deposits still pretty close to the surface. Mostly looking like dirt anyway, but the toilet paper is still intact. The only odor, even with the bin wide open was a damp soil kind of smell. Nothing sewage-y at all.


Below you can see what everything but the very top of the contents pictured above looked like. Nice loose potting soil texture, and again no smell other than a light earthy scent. Really, if I bagged this and told you it was potting soil, I don't think anyone would know the difference. You can even see a few of my little red wiggler worms sticking their heads out here since I had just dumped their whole world upside down.


Below is the outside bin that stuff will reside in as it further composts. I started with a large tub with some holes drilled for ventilation for my worms, a nice layer of shredded paper from a friend's office, and then just dumped all the contents of my toilet on top. 


I did pull out a bunch of my little worms and toss them back into my toilet along with a fresh batch of damp peat moss that you can see below. This photo contains nothing but peat moss and some worms. I wasn't sure if it would stay warm enough outside for the worms in my new big outdoor bin to be ok since I don't have a large amount of compost in there yet. But hopefully they make it, and if not, I still have my inside ones. 


I think I am very happy with my toilet despite it being one of the things I did have some misgivings about going into this whole off grid thing. And if I only have to empty it 3 times a year, that's not bad at all.

9 comments:

  1. My understanding is that if the urine and solids don't combine, you don't get the smell. Nice work. How will you eventually use the compost, fertilizer?

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    1. Yes, that does seem to work pretty well to keep them separate. Though just a pile of solids can have it's own odor without the urine, I don't get even that as it composts. And yes, after letting everything decompose for a while longer, I do plan to use it as fertilizer.

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    2. Cool, Thanks! I really like your worm idea and I'm glad they are working so well for you.

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  2. I'm wondering if you've lost the bulk of the worms from the toilet and if the few you pulled and replaced will be sufficient to breed a quantity necessary to maintain the efficiency you reported prior to the cleaning/dumping? Also curious how you manage to keep the urine bottle reasonably odor free? When using a urine bottle in my van I find that one day is about max before cleaning without a nasty odor beginning.

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    1. I think I was able to keep about half of the worms in the toilet and so far, after a few days, they seems to sill be alive and ok. I'll just have to wait and find out if they are able to reproduce rapidly enough.

      The urine bottle is almost totally sealed off which helps with the odor for sure. And I've been adding a few tablespoons of sugar which also seems to help lessen the odor. And when I empty it, I usually rinse it out with some vinegar. I don't smell it unless I'm opening the whole toilet to empty the bottle.

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  3. I'm strongly considering going tiny house as you have successfully done however my wife is not on board with the composting toilet idea. Do you have any resources to recommend that i may use to otherwise convince her? Did everything go as you had originally planned in regards to the composting toilet?

    - Josh

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    1. Yes. I love it and have no complaints though I had some hesitations going into it as well. Funny, my best friend who is male and happens to spend a lot of time at my house still refuses to use my toilet though. I highly recommend checking out this blog. They helped me be much more comfortable with a composting toilet before I got mine and have tons of info. http://www.gonewiththewynns.com/all-composting-toilet

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  4. Ariel the type of worms you use are they just plain old earth worms?

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    1. Yes, but they are the smaller red wiggler worms. I think they just eat through more volume in comparison to their body size than the bigger night crawler type worms. https://unclejimswormfarm.com is where I bought mine originally and they have wonderful customer service!

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