Troubleshooting

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: Troubleshooting
Author: Rman (Rman)
Tuesday, August 04, 2015 - 9:29 pm
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Dianajo I have had a composting toilet in my bedroom so there is no amount of odour from it. My wife experienced a period of dizziness last year so I moved the sawdust toilet in beside our bed for a while. There was also a poster who kept one in a guest bedroom for a visiting elderly relatives night use.

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Monday, August 03, 2015 - 4:34 pm
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Diana, you say "....don't mind a bit of odor when the bucket is open, so long as it doesn't continue after the bucket is closed. With the heat here and my outside loo getting some sun, some odor is inevitable."
Have you read the Humanure Handbook? A thorough reading of that will explain to you why some odor is NOT inevitable. Adequate covering of the bucket surface with sawdust will prevent odor to the extent you could use the system in your bedroom if you wished, without any discomfort or smell to deter you.
Also, "I'm going to turn the pile tomorrow and add a scoop of dirt from our forest floor and maybe that will make a difference."
Further reading of the book will show that turning is not necessary, even counter-productive.
"Dirt" from the forest floor might compact the pile, excluding air and making it more anaerobic.
Some mulch from the forest would not be a problem, provided it's light and not compacting.
Layering of the compost pile will make the process successful, with minimal work or worry.

Author: Rman (Rman)
Sunday, August 02, 2015 - 11:02 pm
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Dianajo, just so we are clear, I was not as concerned about where in the pile you put the probe but more-so about how deep in the pile the tip of the probe was going. I can very often gain 10 or more degrees F by taking a shallow reading compared to a deep one.

Author: Dianajo (Dianajo)
Sunday, August 02, 2015 - 4:42 pm
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It is a standard compost thermometer and I do take the temp from various locations in the pile, so I'm fairly confident in my temps.

I will be going over to one of the mills here to get a truck load of sawdust, but haven't made it there yet. The shavings seem to be absorbing moisture well. Perhaps because we aren't using an excess of shavings? The shavings are definitely wet when I dump the buckets except for the topmost layer.

I'm fairly "stingy" with the shavings and don't mind a bit of odor when the bucket is open, so long as it doesn't continue after the bucket is closed. With the heat here and my outside loo getting some sun, some odor is inevitable.

I'm going to turn the pile tomorrow and add a scoop of dirt from our forest floor and maybe that will make a difference.

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - 4:13 am
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Dianajo, in his book, Joe has emphasized that "shavings" do not smother the bucket surface very well. This in itself can be a cause for low temperatures.
Sawdust, on the other hand, has a much smaller particle size. It smothers well, absorbs moisture much more readily and completely, helping the bacteria involved with the composting process, which can then progress to the thermophilic temperatures.
Urea, with it's nitrogen content, combines with the carbon of the sawdust. You get a good C/N ratio and this helps to prevent ammonia production....at least that is how I understand it.
The old-style pit, which we Australians refer to as the "long-drop" toilet, never received enough carbonaceous material, apart from newspaper. It become a stink pit and earned a well deserved bad reputation....far cry from the modern version of "Humanure Toilet."

Author: Rman (Rman)
Monday, July 27, 2015 - 11:36 pm
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Hi Dianajo, my first suggestion has to do with the compost thermometer. If yours is a standard type it only senses on the tip of the probe. I suggest you vary the angle and depth to try to gauge the temps in the active areas. Don't forget that it takes a while for the thermometer to reach equilibrium, maybe 30 to 90 seconds. Good luck and let us know what you find since there are other things to try but this is the simplest.

Author: Dianajo (Dianajo)
Monday, July 27, 2015 - 5:35 pm
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Pile isn't getting hot, hot. Running between 90* and 120*F. Ambient daytime temps have been 80*+, with nighttime temps below 40*.
Using white pine shavings as the cover material in the buckets, using dried grass and straw to 'line' the sides of the pallet 'bin' and making deposits to the middle of the pile, approximately every other week and up to 5 buckets at a time.
Pile is appropriately moist, deposits are breaking down (although some tp is still identifiable). Occasionally when moving material to begin deposits, I notice an ammonia smell. Not overpowering or 'icky' but there.
Pile was started in January/February this year (temps were below freezing often) and is approximately 4'x4'x 3.5' now. Seems like it should be getting hotter than it is by now. Any suggestions on how I can get this pile to get to the necessary pathogen killing temps?

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