Humanure convert needs help...buckets...

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: General Composting Issues: Humanure convert needs help...buckets stink, compost bin is full...
Author: Md_heath (Md_heath)
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 - 8:33 am
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

if you are in an urban area with a sewage treatment plant, it is highly likely that they are composting the sludge, the bio-solids, somewhere nearby. compost is an excellent cover material. if you go to the source, a pickup load should be lower cost than sawdust.

Author: Ecowa (Ecowa)
Saturday, October 09, 2010 - 3:37 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

While I sympathize with the need for alternative cover materials, please reconsider using peat moss, which is a limited and mined resource, with profound ecological consequences: http://www.naturallifemagazine.com/0712/asknlpeat.html

PS Joe, whatever happened with the biobags? I've been using them in my in-ground dog poop composter, like this one: http://www.cityfarmer.org/petwaste.html

but for that, the amount of time it takes to compost doesn't seem so important, since I'm simply feeding the soil near a fruit tree, not applying the compost to gardens.

(Message edited by EcoWA on October 09, 2010)

Author: Bafilius (Bafilius)
Monday, July 06, 2009 - 5:27 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

[No profile available] Edit this post

Thanks for the response. Sorry it's taken me so long to respond. Yes it is very hot and dry there. My situation is simply that I live in a camper on undeveloped land. There's lots of plant and animal life there but it's still very barren if you get my drift. There's not much more to it than that. I haven't lived there long enough to find out if my manure dessicates. All I know is that when it hits 100 degrees, my poop stinks and draws flys. I started off just going over a hole in the ground and burying it. Then I evolved to using the camping hassock toilets from wal-mart and burying the bags. This was obviously a short term solution as I didn't want hundreds of bags of poop buried all over the place. That and there were maggots squirming in it and flies around it. Adding peat moss fixed that completely. But the next step was to start composting. When I started using the buckets the diameter was larger than the bags so I need 3-4 times as much peat moss to cover it up or the smell got too intense. As for moisture, I only use 2-3 gallons of water a day and I drain the remaining gray water (about a gallon) into a bucket and dump that onto my pile each day. So there you have it. I've started hand scooping the peat moss to cover up moist and problem areas to conserve a bit.

(Message edited by bafilius on July 06, 2009)

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Saturday, June 27, 2009 - 2:26 am
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

Bafilius, my immediate thought is a question. Since it's a desert, does that imply that it's very dry there? Also are the air temperatures fairly high? If the answer is yes, I am wondering if the compost gets dessicated fairly quickly. If it gets dried almost to a powder, maybe you don't need to worry about the Humanure type of composting, which is designed to turn moist, potentially pathogenic material into harmless soil. A dessicated compost would probably not require any cover material at all, apart from mixing it (dry) into sand or soil, then burying it. Could the hot sun be used to pasteurize it in some way?
I have put a lot of "if"s here. It would be great if you could describe your circumstances in a little more detail... most interested.
Maybe others can come up with more suggestions.

Author: Bafilius (Bafilius)
Friday, June 26, 2009 - 8:06 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

[No profile available] Edit this post

Hello, I've heard a lot of great suggestions for toilet cover material, but none that fit my needs as well as I like. I live in the Mojave desert. There are no trees, so no leaves. I have no grass, so no clippings. The nearest coffee joint is 30 miles away, so that's out. There are lots of shrubs everywhere but I don't want to tear them up for cover material. I've been buying peat moss but find I can go through a 10 dollar bag in a week. I can't afford that really.

My current thoughts are:

Do the biodegradable bags as it narrows the reception area and needs less peat moss for cover.

Sneak into the post office late at night and grab other people's junk mail to shred, because I don't get enough mail myself.

But any other, simpler, less sketchy or less costly solutions would be appreciated.

Author: Emma Holister (Emma_holister)
Sunday, December 14, 2008 - 8:34 am
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

Latest update on the pine needle front, my boyfriend is in the middle of reading Christophe Elain's 'Un petit coin pour soulager la planete' and says that Elain explains that pine needles are very acidic and therefore not great for the composting. Perhaps there is something one could add to the compost to rebalance its ph? It seems a shame to not be able to use this often widely available resource.

Author: Emma Holister (Emma_holister)
Tuesday, December 02, 2008 - 2:30 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

For the pine needles alternative question, I just asked my boyfriend who has lived in this hilly region all his life, surrounded by large forests of pine trees, and as he's often had to relieve himself out in the woods he has already covered his poos with pine needles and he says it's very course and full of large air holes so in my opinion pine needles would need to be mulched before being of any use. For mulching it is really worth looking into sustainable energy alternatives to petrol or electric run mulchers, I've seen pedal power mulchers that may one day be a useful tool for humanure loo owners, as long as they could be built to mulch material finely. Here's an interesting YouTube film on a pedal power multiuse mulcher, saw etc: 'Pedal Power Using a Dual Purpose Bicycle' http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=7cpVWCBi_qE
I will give the pine needles a go in my humanure loo next time I go to the woods and can collect some. Is there a problem collecting pine needles? I thought it was good to remove them in order to reduce the risk of forest fires?
As for the bucket smelling, I've found that as long as I leave the buckets out in the open air for a day or two all odor leaves them completely, although I don't know how long this will be the case with the average bucket. Maybe that's one of the reasons that here in France they seem to prefer stainless steel receptacles even if they are more expensive...? I personally can't afford one, and anyway, I haven't seen any with swing handles, that I think are essential. Still, those stainless steel receptacles look very fancy when you open your loo...

(Message edited by emma_holister on December 02, 2008)

Author: Rich T. (E0richt)
Monday, September 15, 2008 - 2:35 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

just my 2 cents....

I don't use sawdust as I can't really get it and while I will gather leaves and compost them, I don't like using them for cover material...

I use pine shavings that are normally used for pet bedding. However, there is a trick that you have to use to make it work... you have to store it outside for a week and exposed to the elements... I store mine in the middle of my compost pile along with straw that I use as the outside cover material...


you can use the shavings as the outside cover material but it does produce inferior results... I was using it that way and found that my pile was only heating to 90 degrees... I recently bought a straw bale and have used that for pile cover and its already at 110 degrees...

one other thing... I used to get a smell when I emptied the contents onto the pile... what I used to do is breathe through my mouth and not my nose when emptying... its not been a problem lately though. I get a mild urine smell when cleaning the bucket but once I rinse it and dump onto the pile I really don't have that problem anymore...

(Message edited by e0richt on September 15, 2008)

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Monday, September 01, 2008 - 12:14 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

Iris - we have used cedar sawdust with good results at two festivals so far.

Author: Ryan Wolframe (Mrvvolf)
Saturday, August 30, 2008 - 5:19 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

Hello. I have not built my humanure bucket yet but I do compost, and I have used a bucket in the garage generally for peeing in and then dump it in the toilet every so often. I am moving soon so I will not start this year, but next spring I will have the humanure toilet in place!

I don't like to rake leaves but I usually take a walk down the back lane and collect 20 or so bags every fall. I line my fence with the bags which cuts down on the wind whipping through the yard all winter and gives me all the compost topping I could want.

Author: Iris Laging (Iris)
Friday, July 25, 2008 - 4:15 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

[No profile available] Edit this post

So far, so good with this new compost system...just a question regarding cover material. In my area, there isn't untreated sawdust available other than red cedar, which is not recommended in the book. I've been using store-bought peat moss, but it's getting expensive. I've got lots of pine needles, but don't want to deplete the forest floor as this layer is only 3-4 inches deep before I hit sand. There's no grass, so no clippings. Hay is not really viable either because everyone here is baling round (much too large for me to haul). The only readily available, inexpensive alternative is cotton hulls. Does anyone know whether these would be a viable alternative? Any input will be greatly appreciated! Iris

Author: Herb Stamser (Herb)
Saturday, July 05, 2008 - 11:42 am
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

Joe:

Thanks for the update on the biodegradeable "plastic" bags. When the results come in next spring, please post the news in big headlines. As soon as they are proven and readily available I will probably switch over. A bag does make for a clean bucket like you said. I've been using that system for years. Your great book, however, got me into composting the contents.

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Friday, July 04, 2008 - 12:07 am
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

I have used a couple of boxes of "biodegradable" plastic bags as toilet liners, so far. In fact, I used up everything that I had. It certainly makes for clean toilet receptacles. You just need to give them a little rinse with clean water after emptying. However, whether the bags completely disappear in the compost is information I do not yet have, nor will I until next spring when I dig into the piles. So the verdict is still out until that time.

Author: Herb Stamser (Herb)
Wednesday, July 02, 2008 - 2:46 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

I solved cleaning the stinky bucket issue by using 13 gallon size plastic bags, which I then put in the trash.

Joe, I believe, is experimenting with biodegradeable "plastic" (corn starch?) bags. Any update on that, Joe?

If you can't get sawdust an excellent alternative readily available is peat moss sold at any garden center. I have experimented with peat and it works very well. Peat seems to have an near instant affinity to humanure that even sawdust doesn't have.

Author: Alan J Marshall (Ecointerest)
Monday, June 30, 2008 - 10:37 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

Of course, Demeter! Why didn't I think of that before. Thanks.
My further thought is that if you put some relatively matured compost from the Humanure system into a worm farm (about the size of an ordinary garbage bin) the worms will work that compost down to a very fine texture. It will then be as smothering as the sawdust was, and will be very OK to handle.

Author: Demeter (Demeter)
Monday, June 30, 2008 - 11:10 am
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

[No profile available] Edit this post

Once you have the system going, you should never run out of cover material. That's because one of the nicest inside cover materials is finished compost!

I'm working on a system to dry the finished compost for re-use in a simple solar oven. The simplest solar oven I have found uses the corner of a box, lined with foil.

Author: Sue Hodgson (Sueh)
Monday, June 30, 2008 - 9:28 am
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

Well, I don't think we need to worry anytime soon about everyone in the world using the humanuare system. At the same time look around at all the cover material readily available. Scrap paper can be shredded and used. Grass clippings, straw, twigs shredded, coffee grounds, the list just goes on and on. IF far more people were using the humanuare system the recycling stream would be geared toward facilitating it. It's amazing the solutions that can be found once people start looking.

Author: Demeter (Demeter)
Sunday, June 29, 2008 - 7:21 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

[No profile available] Edit this post

Yes. The leaves are collected in the fall. We have seven large deciduous trees in our yard, which provide about three to six times the leaf cover needed for the two of us. The purpose of the Humanure toilet for us was to accelerate the composting of the leaves, and it has done just that. In the past, we have mulched the leaves with the power mower. That works fine, but we don't like the fumes or the noise.

The "compost tea" that comes from urine collected in a leaf-filled bucket has been added to the lawn this season. Lawn looks great because of it.

Author: Olga Lobban (Olobban)
Sunday, June 29, 2008 - 3:51 am
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

Joe, thanks for the note to NOT layer cover material between layers of toilet deposits. That might be one of the reasons that my bin filled too fast. On the upside, my pile is heating very nicely...it was at 141 F today. Maybe that's because the ambient temp has been near or over 100 for the last few weeks straight! But nevertheless, I was proud of my hot pile! :-)

About cover material...I really have had a hard time finding sawdust. The sawmills I've talked to have a commercial outfit that picks up all their dust. I think I'll try coffee grounds this week. But I don't think I'll be able to consistently get enough coffee grounds to keep my system going for the three of us. The easiest material for me to get my hands on is finely shredded mulch from our city brush and mulching site. Perhaps I'll try the corn based kitty litter that we use for our cats. That might be kind of expensive, though. It's summer, so there aren't any leaves available right now, either. Demeter, where do you get your leaf litter? Collect it in the fall? Alan, thank you for your post about which other materials can be used when sawdust is not available.

That brings me to another question I've been pondering alot lately. If everyone in the world switched to a humanure system, would it be sustainable? Is there more cover material out there than drinking water? Surely there is, right? Surely, if we used all the waste organic material out there that is currently being thrown into landfills for humanure systems, then there would be enough cover material for everyone.

Thanks also for the vinegar idea. And thanks for the video, Joe. That helped alot.

Author: Alan J Marshall (Ecointerest)
Friday, June 27, 2008 - 11:52 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

Joe, I must thank you for those videos. Only having a very slow dial-up internet connections means that up to now I have not had the facility to view them. Just sitting in the Internet Cafe now, where they have a very fast Broadband connection, and all the videos are now saved on a memory chip.
Some of my recent posts are immediately obselete!
On my suggestion of alternative cover materials, that is also answered by the videos, but I still wonder what people use if sawdust is definitely not obtainable.
Anyway, great work, and thank you again.

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Friday, June 27, 2008 - 1:12 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

The containers will smell after emptying and even washing, which is why you have to add a few inches of cover material to cover the bottom of the container when you put it back in the toilet. The odor seems to emanate from the bottom of the container, and a few inches of cover material in the bottom seems to block it.

Regarding cover material, bulky and airy materials will fill a toilet receptacle quickly because it takes more of it to block odor. You will be emptying the containers more often as well. You also won't get very good compost as you will find that you are using too much carbon material for the amount of nitrogen. The compost may not heat up very well and may require a couple or three years of aging before it's ready for agricultural use. I did an experimental batch of humanure compost two years ago using wood shavings. It never heated up very well and did not break down completely. I had to use a lot of cover in the toilet to prevent odor, got a fruit fly infestation, and the compost, which I used this year, is not making the plants happy. I'm currently doing a planting trial with wood shaving humanure compost beside normal, sawdust/kitchen scrap/weeds/humanure compost and the difference is striking.

When I switched back to sawdust and stopped using the shavings, the pile heated up like it should.

I put a video up on the web showing me emptying toilet containers into a standard humanure compost system as described in my book. All household organic materials go into the pile including all urine, toilet paper, food scraps, weeds, meat, bones, oils, fats, etc., etc. Note how the toilet material is deposited into the center depression. Note also that I do not layer cover material between layers of toilet deposits as some people have told me they thought was the correct way.

I have no familiarity with a gag reflex.

The video is at http://jenkinspublishing.com/videos/emptying_humanure_containers.wmv


Other humanure video clips are at http://jenkinspublishing.com/videos.html.

Author: Demeter (Demeter)
Friday, June 27, 2008 - 9:04 am
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

[No profile available] Edit this post

I use shredded leaf litter inside, regular leaf litter outside. It works great.

In addition, when in season, I collect cattail down for the bottom of the bucket. It's nature's disposable diaper filling.

Author: Alan J Marshall (Ecointerest)
Friday, June 27, 2008 - 12:04 am
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

"I've had a hard time finding sawdust..." I feel we need to bear this in mind. Olga's problem stems really from this, don't you think? Alternatives to sawdust are necessary in many parts of the world. Having lived in Tanzania, close to Lake Victoria, I am aware that many of the trees which were originally growing there have been removed for firewood and other reasons, so sawdust would be most difficult to obtain.
However, we all are devoted to the concept of the Humanure system and want to promote its use as much as possible. There must be many people around the world who ARE using substitutes to sawdust. Could we maybe get some of those people to write in to a new Posting here? Tell us what you have found works in practice. Not just guessing or theoretical ideas. Practical knowledge that individuals like Olga can draw upon.
Do the following work? Pine needles; pulverised seaweed; desert sand mixed with pulverised camel dung; rice hulls; dust winnowed from wheat threshing, or oats, or barley, etc. I for one would love to see a good list.

Author: John Smith (John)
Thursday, June 26, 2008 - 2:56 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

[No profile available] Edit this post

Olga,

I think the origin of all your problems lie with your choice of cover material.

Use sawdust while inside, straw when outside.

John

Author: Ken Miller (Ken)
Thursday, June 26, 2008 - 12:09 am
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

Olga,
I use white vinegar after rinsing the buckets out and then allow them to dry out in the sun. I have used hydrogen peroxide too. The vinegar is a little cheaper for me.

Author: Demeter (Demeter)
Wednesday, June 25, 2008 - 4:55 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

[No profile available] Edit this post

Letting the buckets dry out in the sun for a day or two gets the stench out for me. If you rotate them, you'll have a fresh one when you need it.

If you make a depression in your compost pile, the contents won't splash and run over. Remove cover as needed when you empty, then recover or add more.

Author: Alan J Marshall (Ecointerest)
Wednesday, June 25, 2008 - 4:52 pm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

Olga, please allow me to mention a way that I have found tends to reduce/prevent bad smells accumulating in the bucket. Others will answer other aspects of your letter, I am sure.
I have found that using DRY cleaning methods on the inside of the bucket work.
I wear rubber gloves. Grab up a big handful of sawdust (more on this in a moment), then rigorously rub that sawdust on the inside walls of the bucket. Keeping it dry! Don't add water or soap, and definitely not any disinfectant of any kind. Tip this first bit of sawdust onto the compost heap. Probably another handful of sawdust, for a repeat performance, and your bucket is ready for reuse. Now, since you say you don't have ready access to sawdust, there are other things you can try. Like old mulch, or leaf mold from under the trees. Old compost. You could break up old leaves, etc. by running the lawnmower back and forth over them. The principle that I go on is that such materials have bacteria, fungi, microbes -by-the-million, which work on the smelly stuff.
If you were to use shredded paper for this purpose, I don't feel there is enough of the bacteria, etc., to have the same effect.
Even hay, or grass clippings from the lawn would be better.
I hope this gives you some ideas to try out for yourself. We can imagine the feeling which you probably have: that you don't want to offend the noses of visitors, and get them thinking you are barking up the wrong path with your path to sustainability. So all of us readers are with you in this. Good luck.

Author: Olga Lobban (Olobban)
Wednesday, June 25, 2008 - 11:50 am
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

View profile or send e-mail Edit this post

I started the "sawdust" toilet for the three of us in our household 3 weeks ago. I absolutely *love* it. It's done all kinds of wonderful, spiritual things for me to know that I'm not inappropriately combining two invaluable resources (manure and drinking water). It also just seems cleaner than flush toilets. So, I'm definitely a humanure convert! I've just had a few issues that I'm hoping some of you more experienced composters can help me out with.

1. My compost pile outside is already full! I have a 4 foot diameter round compost pile outside made with chicken wire. It's a little less than a meter high. I've read the posts where you think it's full, but then it shrinks when you turn your back. I've noticed that, but even still, I don't think I'll get more than another 3-4 weeks out of that pile. I'm wondering if I'm using too much cover or the wrong cover material in the bucket. In the buckets, we're currently using old mulch. It's fairly fine, so I thought it would work nicely. And it does, but maybe it's too bulky compared to sawdust? I've had a hard time finding sawdust. In the bin outside, I used dead leaves picked up from my neighbors. Maybe I need a bigger pile outside?

2. My buckets already stink! I rinse them out with soap, but still they have a pretty foul stench. Any suggestions on how to make them smell a little better.

3. Just wanting to know if there's anything I could do about the stench when I empty the buckets onto the pile. I had my first gag reflex this morning as I dumped the bucket contents on the compost pile. Dumping the buckets is certainly an act of humility that I don't mind and happily do. I absolutely love this humanure idea and love to compost. I'm just wondering if I'm doing something obviously wrong or do the bucket contents simply stink right after you put them on the compost pile. I shortly put clean cover material on top of them, and after that no smell at all. Again just wondering if there's a way to prevent the gag reflex in between dumping the contents and covering them. I'm also just trying to work this out before I start touting this system to others.

4. Finally, I think I just want some reassurance to relax a little bit. When I'm emptying the bucket contents on the pile outside, I find myself worrying over every little speck of poop that might get splashed off the compost pile. Rinsing off the top edges of the buckets, I'm worrying about that stuff splashing somewhere other than the compost pile. Where do I rinse the buckets so stuff on the top won't fall on the open ground? I really have to fight the fecophobia that's been hammered into me for 30 some odd years. Just wondering if anyone had any reassuring advice about this. Or just some reassurance that if a few specks of bucket contents get splashed here and there, that it's OK! I know that some care is needed, but that it's ok to relax.

Thanks in advance and with deep gratitude for all of you who have paved the way.

Add Your Message Here
Post:
Username: Posting Information:
This is a private posting area. Only registered users and moderators may post messages here.
Password:
Options: Enable HTML code in message
Automatically activate URLs in message
Action:

Topics Profile Last Day Last Week Search Tree View Member List Log Out     Administration
Topics Profile Last Day Last Week Search Tree View Member List Log Out   Administration
Welcome to The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board
For assistance, read the instructions or contact us.
Powered by Discus Pro
http://www.discusware.com