Whether you often go camping in a tent, or you want to prepare your family for an emergency situation, a portable composting toilet is a smart item to add to your household stores. Here are instructions to build and use your own composting toilet that will be beneficial for the environment.
Urine Compost Toilet
To be able to turn your excrement waste into compost beneficial for the soil, it is best to have separate portable toilets for each type of waste. The reason for this is because fecal matter contains bacteria, parasites, and other organisms that can contaminate urine, so it is best to place urine and feces into separate containers. Then you can process the feces to rid it of harmful bacteria and parasites.
Begin the building of your urine toilet with a five-gallon bucket and a foam pool noodle. Cut a slit down the length of the pool noodle to open it so you can insert it onto the top ridge of your bucket, creating a cushioned seat. Then, cut any excess length from the pool noodle, so it fits the diameter of the bucket. If you want to make the bucket-emptying process easier, line the inside of your urine compost bucket with a compostable trash bag, folding the top of the trash bag over the top of the bucket and the pool noodle. When you have lined your bucket with a trash bag, you can twist the top of the trash bag closed between uses to help control odors. If you don't want to use a trash bag, you can empty your compost bucket by dumping or shoveling it directly into the soil.
Each time you use your composting toilet, you will need to sprinkle a handful or two of sawdust onto the urine to help control odors. If your compost toilet begins to smell of ammonia, you can add carbohydrates such as bread or rice, which will help the urine's urea ferment into nitrates and eliminate the ammonia smell.
When your bucket is full or you are finished camping, you can dump the bucket's contents into the soil near your campsite or take it home to add to your own soil. To empty the bucket at camp, dig a shallow hole a distance away from your campsite and empty the bucket's contents into the hole. If you are using your compost toilet at home or transporting urine compost in a bucket or bag home after camping, empty the contents onto your soil, mixing it around with a shovel. Urine contains natural amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, which makes the urine a beneficial plant fertilizer to use immediately in soil.
Feces Compost Toilet
It's a good idea to have a second portable toilet built in the same manner as the urine toilet, but without a trash bag, for collecting your fecal matter. The bacteria and parasites found in fecal matter will need to be processed from the compost with heat before the compost can be added to your garden soil. Placing harmful bacteria and parasites into the soil can contaminate any produce and fruit trees you will be growing there.
After each time you add fecal matter to your compost bucket toilet, sprinkle the waste with a layer of straw, leaves, or sawdust, which will help keep down the smell and aid in the compost process. When your bucket is full or you are finished camping, seal the bucket with a lid and transport it back to your home to place the bucket in a sunny area for its contents to heat up.
According to one source, heating fecal matter in the sun to 122 degrees F for one day is enough time to kill most disease organisms feces contain. But you will want to heat-process your camping compost bucket longer to allow it time to turn into soil-like matter you can add right to your garden. After your camping trip, allow the bucket to sit for at least one year and periodically turn the bucket's contents with a shovel. Be sure to keep your bucket sealed during this time, so pests and insects don't get inside. If you are using your camping bucket at home, follow the same process of sealing up your bucket when it becomes full to allow it to sit for one year.
Use this information to help you build and use beneficial compost camping toilets for your family's emergency preparedness.
One of my fondest childhood memories is camping with my family. Not only because of the quality time and smores we got to share, but because of the many lessons I learned on each of our camping trips. Each time I conquered a new task, I learned to be confident even when faced with unfamiliar challenges. Each time I woke to the sounds of bustling animals nearby, I learned the value of working hard to survive and the importance of peace amongst neighbors. These are just a few of the many lessons that I have learned. I always hoped to share the lessons of the wilderness with my own children. However, life has chosen a different path for me. So it is now my hope that I can share these lessons with children and parents all over the world through the information found in these pages.