It's come up on a few other threads, so I thought I'd start a thread about composting toilets.
The field of beekeeping brings in a wide array of people. Composting toilets appeal to those looking to be more self sufficient or the environmentally conscious. There is a healthy overlap with beekeeping.
So is there anyone on Beesource who uses a composting toilet beside me?
How I do it: I have a wooden cabinet with a toilet seat on top in the bathroom next to the porcelain toilet. Inside the cabinet is a five gallon bucket. Next to the cabinet is a galvanized feed bucket full of sawdust. Outside is a composting bin made of old used pallets. It's about a meter cubed on the inside. Stuck in the pile is a long probe dial thermometer.
When you do your business in the sawdust toilet as it is called, you cover it over with sawdust. When the bucket is full, it is kept in a storage shed until most of the collection of about a dozen buckets has filled. When all the buckets are ready to be emptied, I open up the pile with a compost fork and pile all the new deposits on there. It ends up being a couple of cubic feet. Lately, I have also been emptying out my chicken coop at the same time and intermixing the litter on the pile too. I lightly scrub the buckets with rainwater and a dedicated toilet brush and empty them onto the pile. Then I throw on a generous layer of rotting hay, insert the thermometer and it's good to go. The buckets sit under the eave of a little shed where they are sterilized by rainwater.
Sterilization of the waste takes place by the heating of the pile by thermophilic bacteria. I've discovered that the chicken litter adds enough energy to boost the pile temperature as high as 155F for around two weeks. This is higher and longer than is required to kill pathogens. Without the chicken litter, the pile tends to have temperatures around 135-145 which is still quite sufficient. After the last deposit has been added to the pile, it is allowed to sit for a full year before being excavated as an added measure of safety. Though some people are concerned about what crops the compost is placed upon, I am not. I used it on everything, however, I have decided to quit gardening for the time being so it will go on the grapes and banana trees.
This last year, I purchased my own electric powered wood chipper from Patriot Products. It allows me to make all of my sawdust (wood chips run through the leaf shredder) on site from my own brush and tree trimmings. I did a test with a Kill-a-watt meter and found that a 96 gallon trash can full only uses about 1.5 kWh of electricity.
Benefits: Makes you much more self sufficient. You can cut your water usage by a third or more. I save about 1000 gallons per month. It produces high quality compost. Reduces load to your septic tank or eliminates the need for one. Your mother-in-law will likely visit less often. Teach yourself and your children about resource and waste stewardship.
Drawbacks: Need a source of sawdust, but can use other things like rice hulls. Work required, ferrying buckets, getting sawdust, and maintaining the pile.