Urine only composting

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: General Composting Issues: Urine only composting
Author: MJ Raichyk, PhD (Dectiri)
Thursday, March 26, 2009 - 4:55 pm
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Sallie... to complicate your life, I'm going to disagree with Marc on the newspaper hazard idea. We put newspaper in our cats' litterboxes to keep them fresh, no need to be worrying about nose problems. It works as long as your diet is a good match for your body's individual organ functioning. For the humans that means less meat, for the cats that means all meat.

If you want to fertilize your garden beginning already in 3 weeks, why not just dilute the urine and pour it on your garden just like liquid fertilizer. The Finns did this with cabbage and cucumbers, both of which thrived on it. We did it with tomatoes and peppers and some herbs, with great results.

IF YOU WANT TO PUT THE URINE INTO THE COMPOST HEAP AND NOT HAVE THE HEAP GET TOO WET: For the collection process for your family using the Loo, you could simply wrinkle the paper and just let the chemistry of carbon and nitrogen do their work. The downside is that your nice bucket will likely get ink staining. We had that once, then started to use cereal and kitchen boxes turned inside out so their white-side was next to the bucket surface. The urine may soak the boxes so totally that they will cling when you dump them on the compost heap, into a hollowed out space in the heap, like Joe does. But the cardboard usually easily peels out. You get the excitement of figuring out just how much liquids your heap can want compared to how much your family is supplying and how much your horses are supplying, etc.... interesting puzzle with lots of variables for you to experiment with.

IF THE URINE IS JUST FOR DIRECT USE IN THE GARDEN: The Loo's bucket (no newspaper needed with the schedule you've suggested and the Loo's lid) could be emptied as you are suggesting, simple and safely in the garden, just diluting as needed. Just like any fertilizer, you will have to remember that this is feeding the plants not just watering them and watch for any signs that your urine supply is stronger than needed. Your water drinking habits may vary from ours. We drink a lot of water and only needed to do double the volume, and used it almost ever other day along with other water.

As for safety, this is not nightsoil. The Finns tested their harvest and the urine fed produce was cleaner than the petroleum-fertilizer fed control-plants. Urine was used on the battlefield in long ago wars as a wound cleaner because it's an antiseptic.

By all means do the horse manure composting ala Joe's continuous method, skip the turning etc and let the compost take its time to completely cure. Your idea of using the urine is the way to get the gardening underway in the meantime.

Best wishes

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Sunday, March 22, 2009 - 8:19 pm
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Stick the thermometer in at the beginning and leave it in the compost all the time.

Author: sallie mouser (Sallie)
Sunday, March 22, 2009 - 12:32 pm
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Thanks Marc. I don't think I can get the right kind of sawdust. Would leaves work with the newspaper?

Also, I didn't see where Mr. Jenkins talked in his book about when to test the temps. of the compost. I'm sorry, but I want to be sure it reaches the right temps and I think he mentions it has to stay at that high temp for a certain amount of time also. I bought his thermometer and am wondering if I should stick it in right after adding a bucket and leaving it in for a few days. Sallie

Author: Marc Van Hummelen (Rowan)
Friday, March 20, 2009 - 10:58 am
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Hey Sallie, I'm sorry but I didn't express myself well in my previous post. I should add that when you use materials like newspaper, cardboard etc, you should use a mixture of these things. Only newspaper doesn't work well because the paper compacts and kinda seals off the top so that all liquids stay on top. It's useful to also use material that add volume to the whole, so that liquid can seep through.
By the way, now that you have the book, you will soon find out that a pile can't break down after 3 weeks. It takes much much longer to decompose. Marc

Author: sallie mouser (Sallie)
Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 12:25 pm
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Hey everyone, I just got my humanure handbook and now understand that I can continuously add my urine and poo to the pile. It all makes sense! I have access to alot of horse manure so I think I am going to do that for this summer and compost our family's urine only. My spouse and kids aren't ready to compost their feces yet.

My question is that I have alot of horse manure, food scraps saved, and straw. I could make a pile all at once. I think I would need to turn this and not sure how often. It might be in the book though.

Sallie

Author: sallie mouser (Sallie)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - 1:08 pm
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Thanks everyone--I will keep shredded newspaper in 5-gallon bucket. Do I fill the bucket all the way with newspaper and tell other 4 family members to pee away?

Also, once bucket is full, what if I am in the middle of composting a pile I have already made. I understand it takes around 3 weeks for pile to be broken down. Should I store full bucket in garage and wait for the next batch?

Author: Marc Van Hummelen (Rowan)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - 5:46 am
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Hello there, when collecting urine, try to keep the liquid surface in your recipient covered with carbon-rich material: chopped-up straw or hay, shredded newspapers or cardboard, etc. The nitrogen binds with the material, instead of becoming ammonia. Ammonia, by the way, seems to be far less ideal for plants to take up in their roots. There's definitely no need to dilute it with water. When your bucket is full, just tip it on your compost pile, don't worry about making your pile too wet, most likely your pile will only want more. Urine is ideal to get the composting process in the pile on the way, but it 'll work better still if you add your poop to it. An important way of keeping things simple is to get used to the idea that all things that come from your body can't be highly dangerous poison. If pathogens are such a big risk, you can't but wonder how humanity managed to survive all these thousands of years...
Marc

Author: test2 (Test2)
Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 10:12 pm
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I am no expert on all this but based on my actual limited experience - -

The problem you may run into is its just too much liquid. This can lead to smell problems, leaching problems, overwet compost etc:. It seems preferable to follow Joes's lead. Create a biological sponge to contain the liquid, then treat the buckets like he treats the humanure toilet buckets.

I also think pouring urine or diluted urine on a compost heap provides nitrogen and liquid and may help activate it, but you can have too much of a good thing.

There is a book I think called Liquid Gold which may help, but I have not read it.

Author: sallie mouser (Sallie)
Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 7:46 pm
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How about using my 5-gallon bucket (and I bought a Loveable Loo toilet seat for it) and filling the bucket somewhat with water; then pee into that and throw it on the compost pile once or twice a day? I am trying to avoid using leaves (we don't have sawdust around) as it isn't as easy to throw out of the bucket. Just trying to be simple as possible for now so family transitions.

Author: test2 (Test2)
Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 5:12 pm
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Need to be very careful of smell.

A coffee container seems kinda too small.

I think I have seen Joe and other readers messages or in thee handbook of keeping a 5 gal bucket full of organic material like leaves, peat moss, saw dust etc: and peeing in it or pouring it in from another container. Need to keep the bucket closed well. Then when full treat as you would a humanure bucket for composting.

The idea must be the organic material in bucket will become like a soggy sponge reducing leaching when putting in compost pile and also provideing carbon.

This is an approach I just began and I think will work well.

Keep us posted.

Author: sallie mouser (Sallie)
Monday, March 09, 2009 - 3:29 pm
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I would like to start out just composting urine only and work family up to poop. If I collect urine in a coffee can, how often do I add to compost pile? Every 24 hours, every 8 hours? I was thinking of lugging family urine to pile once in the morning and then again in the evening. I want as much nitrogen as possible and not smelly ammonia.

Do I dilute 10:1 and then pour onto compost pile? If I make compost pile all at once and am not adding materials after pile is made, is it okay to be pouring diluted urine on it? I want compost to be ready in 3 weeks or so and then start a new compost pile, so not sure if I can be adding urine daily.

Thanks, Sallie

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