Cover materials?

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: Cover materials?
Author: John1968holland (John1968holland)
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - 1:43 pm
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Hi Joe,

Thanks for your reply. No, it is not coconut that I mean, but the brown dry outer shells of cocoa seeds. It is a rest product of the chocolate industry and is used for mulching in gardens as well. It smells like chocolate.
Maybe anyone else who has experience with this material?
Otherwise I may try and be the first to gather experience with it.
Thanks a lot for your reaction(s).
Kind regards,
John

Author: Joe (Joe)
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - 10:30 am
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John1968holland,

Do you mean coconut husks, also known as coco coir? If they're ground to the right consistency they should work fine, although I have never used them. Cover material inside toilets should be slightly damp for odor control. It can be dry in the compost bin.

Author: John1968holland (John1968holland)
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 - 2:48 pm
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Hi Joe,
First of all I want to thank you endlessly for writing the humanure handbook. It inspires me a lot to stop using drinking water to flush our toilets (as we do here in Holland) and to use humanure to keep my gardens fertile.
I would like to ask you if I could also use cocoa bean shells as cover material. I use that a lot for mulching in gardens (am a gardener) and it seems to me that this dry absorbing material could also be useful for cover material. Do you have any experience in using this material? What is your advice?
Many thanks and keep up the good work.
Kindest regards from Holland

Author: Coya (Coya)
Thursday, April 29, 2010 - 7:33 am
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Joseph Jenkinks: I want to thank you VERY MUCH for your Humanure Handbook and for the great contribution you all are doing to our world!There´s no words to thank you... but if you ever come to Greece you´re wellcome to visit us!
We are planing our Home in South Greece and we want to do as much as possible to keep Nature here as wonderful as it is. We´ll live in the midle of a Bio farm that produce Olive-oil and vegetables (with wild little animals and wild tortoises) and after reading your book I finnally found great answers to many of my questions!
Any way I still do have another questions:

1.- After the Olive harvest we have plenty of small branches that we can chop in very small parts. Could we use this to cover Humanure at the compost bin and compost toilete instead of sawdust?
I´m hopping to hear about Lulu´s experience with the olive rest...
Nevertheless we would prefer to use just the rest of our Olive harvest since many of the local farmers add poisons (rantisma) to their Olive-trees and we are not sure if this is good for the compost...

2.- We have 6 months no rain, and not snow at all. How much water should I add to the Humanure compost bin in the dry months to keep it active?

3.- We will have a washing machine that use rain water (so there´s not clorine in it) and we use it once-twice a week (2-4 persons) Could we add just the washing maching- water to our Humanure compost bin? (we´ll use just liquid-biodegradable soap).
If this is not a good idea. Could it be better to use the water from the kitchen and shower? (we´re planing to use this water for the garden)
In advance: thanks for your answers! Here it´s quite dificult to get the right info.

Author: Lulu (Lulu)
Saturday, February 27, 2010 - 4:36 am
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Dear Pcinca and Eco,
Thanks for your replies, much appreciated. I've learnt that the olive waste is burnt or dumped so it would be great to use it for humanuring. It's fresh off the tree at the time of olive harvesting. I suppose to dry it would be easy enough, just spread it out a bit and leave it for the summer. It would need some forward planning, it would take a few months to be ready as a dry, crumbly material. Sounds ideal though. If it was just left in a pile also for a few months it might start rotting and be more friable, I think that's the word. Either way it sounds like it could be suitable. I'll just have to get a truckload delivered and see how best to manage it. Olive harvest waste as a cover material would be my first option.
Meantime, yes pine needles Eco, could be a temporary solution. The climate here is similar to Ibiza but the pine forests are an hour or so drive away and they were mostly burnt down two summers ago, very, very sad. Over the other side of the Tayetos mountain range are deciduous woods, they are protected but could be a temporary source of dry leaves. I'm loathe to use fuel to fetch and carry cover materials so a yearly dump of olive waste would be the best solution I think.
Lulu

(Message edited by lulu on February 27, 2010)

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Friday, February 26, 2010 - 5:36 pm
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Lulu, I have spent some time in Ibiza and wonder if southern Greece is in any way like Ibiza. There, they have a lot of coniferous trees growing - and these trees drop huge quantities of pine needles and flowering parts onto the ground. Even some of the flat roofs were littered with the same material. Do you have this in Greece? If so, try some as a cover material, it should do as well as sawdust.

Author: Pcinca (Pcinca)
Wednesday, February 24, 2010 - 12:25 pm
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LuLu, I have been using crushed dry leaves and other carbon materials exclusively and with no problems. The finer, drier and smaller the materials, the better as this mimics sawdust. I believe sawdust would be one of the better cover materials, but it is not readily available everywhere and I have had success without ever using it.

The full buckets will be emptied into a compost bin and covered with other compost materials: kitchen scraps, leaves, lawn clippings- whatever is available and this will work fine. My compost pile was at 140F the other day, so it is working great.

Author: Lulu (Lulu)
Wednesday, February 24, 2010 - 10:45 am
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Hello Everyone
I'm half way through the book, unputdownable and inspiring! brilliant Joe! thankyou for creating it.
I'm planning to create an eco-home that will have a compost toilet. The process seems straight forward for me except for the common question of cover material. I live in southern Greece, there are no deciduous woods, so no sawdust or leaves. What we do have here in vast quantities but only once a year, around Christmas time, are the left overs from the olive pressing. I have yet to study this residue thoroughly but as far as I know it is mostly green leaves and small twigs that have been filtered out from the sacks of olive before pressing.
Question is, would it be suitable as it is or would it need to be composted itself and if so for how long? The eco-home will never have a septic tank or sewage pipe so we need to to get humanuring right away. I'm loathe to use peat moss as I think it needs to be left in the peat bogs not in my bog! I'd much rather use locally found materials.

Lulu

Author: Estull (Estull)
Thursday, February 11, 2010 - 8:43 pm
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If I can get out tomorrow, as I should be able to do, that's exactly what I'll do. Thanks very much.

Author: Superpooper (Superpooper)
Wednesday, February 10, 2010 - 2:58 pm
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go to a pet store or farm and garden store and get the biggest bag of sawdust (animal bedding) or peat moss you can find for the short term. If you have containers to dump your humanure into, you should be OK for a while.

Author: Estull (Estull)
Wednesday, February 10, 2010 - 1:47 pm
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Help! Suggestions, please! We have a backyard garden and large plastic composting bins, but we are not yet set up for composting humanure, and we do not yet have a flushless, sawdust toilet. As I've been reading Joe's book in recent weeks, my wife and I have been talking about either converting to such a system or at least adding a second, flushless toilet, but we're now in the middle of the snowiest February on record here in Baltimore -- second blizzard in four days, over four feet of snow on the ground -- and, as the plumber's camera discovered yesterday, at a point which must be very near to where it enters the city's sewer system the main line of our (probably) eighty-eight-year-old, terra cotta sewer pipe is blocked by a baseball that one of our four boys (or their friends) most likely threw down the city's clean-out in our front yard after the cap to it was destroyed last fall and before I replaced it. The ball is probably being held in place by roots that have grown into the pipe. For five days, we've been unable to use our only toilet, our shower, our washer, and our dishwasher. We've had very limited running water for drinking, hand-washing, and dish-washing by hand. For a toilet, we've been using a potty chair that my ailing mother uses when she's here with us. Not having sawdust in any quantity to speak of, and thinking also of how to reduce the smell of what we will in all likelihood have to dispose of for the time being in the flush toilet once we can use it again, we've been using baking soda, which doesn't do much to reduce the smell. The situation was bad enough yesterday that I had to get the wife and kids (all four under eight, one a nursing infant) out of the house and up to the in-laws' fifty miles away before the current blast of snow became impossible to contend with, then return to Baltimore myself to see if I could find some alternative to the $5200 main pipe replacement the plumber told me is necessary in order to restore use of our only toilet and the normal functioning of our entire plumbing system. Given the weather, this may not happen for many days. Sorry for the long tale, but does anyone have any ideas for flushable, household, non-poisonous, smell-reducers? Or, for that matter, any plumbing ideas?

Author: Joe (Joe)
Tuesday, December 08, 2009 - 6:21 pm
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The Double Doodie bags are made for the LUGGABLE Loo, not the LOVEABLE Loo. They're disposal bags, not compostable bags. I suppose we should start selling the compostable bags on our store. I will look into that.

Author: Demeter (Demeter)
Tuesday, December 08, 2009 - 12:19 pm
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It doesn't look like Double Doodie bags are biodegradable. They advertise that they can be disposed of in municipal waste. So they couldn't be used in the production of Humanure (i.e. composting).

Author: Bothseekers108 (Bothseekers108)
Monday, December 07, 2009 - 4:43 pm
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Has anyone ever tried Double Doodie Bags?

The description is as follows- Lovable loo is right on the box--- make using the Luggable Loo and disposal of waste a snap. Keep plenty on hand so you won't run out in a remote location. Per 6.

* Liner bags for use with 2 Reliance toilets: Luggable Loo or Hassock(each sold separately)
* Inner layer contains bio-gel and outer layer adds protection against leaks--

Author: TCLynx (Tclynx)
Thursday, October 19, 2006 - 9:25 am
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To K Flick,
An option for cover material that I have found effective instead or in combination with sawdust is spent coffee grounds. Most coffee shops are glad to give them away, Starbucks even has directions for composting them. Anyway, if you like the smell of coffee they are great. The coffee grounds are often damp so it might be good to mix them with the sawdust to moisten it and help it decompose quicker. We usually use shredded paper and such to cover liquid and the sawdust/coffee grounds to cover solid. Seems to be working. I'm testing out grass clippings for when the paper runs low or when we decide we don't want the ink in the compost.

Good luck

Author: K Flick (Flick)
Wednesday, October 18, 2006 - 9:13 pm
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But many thanks for the link. When we get the "elimination" problem solved, we'll work on a more elegant solution to the greywater drainage.

Author: K Flick (Flick)
Wednesday, October 18, 2006 - 8:13 pm
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To Larry -

The greywater drainage into the yard was code when it was installed. Since there hasn't been a building permit taken out on the property, it is grandfathered in.

Author: Larry Warnberg (Larry)
Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - 9:20 pm
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To K Flick:
Congratulations for locating a convenient source of sawdust. I like to dampen the sawdust we use in the bathroom to minimize dust. A little moisture makes a big difference.
Discharging greywater into shallow pits invites problems from pests to bureaucrats. Consider delivering the greywater to your landscaping with a simple sub-surface distribution system. Details can be found at: www.greywater.net

Author: K Flick (Flick)
Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - 10:39 am
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I'm so glad to read that kiln-dried sawdust can be used, as we have a free supply for the taking a half-mile down the road.

We're coming to Humanure by default - failing septic system and too poor to replace it. The greywater from the house drains into shallow pits on the property.

Author: TCLynx (Tclynx)
Thursday, August 24, 2006 - 10:14 pm
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I have been composting at home for over 6 months now. I am up visiting my mom and set up compost bins for her. It is an old house and with only one toilet most of us happily use chamber pots at night and empty them daily. Now instead of pouring them in the toilet, we use the compost bins. Chamber pot cover materials have been sawdust, leaves, shredded paper, or shredded cardboard. Shredded corrigated cardboard works very well for absorbing liquid but I don't know how long the paper shredder will last if we keep feeding it cardboard.

Anyway, my cousin is still not willing for the poo in the planters so for now we are only composting urine, paper, leaves, sawdust, garden waste, and kitchen waste.
Results of three people adding urine and food scraps (bacon grease is a must in the compost, my opnion) from feeding 6-8 people: after three weeks we are getting temperatures of 150+ F (no we are not getting that reading by pouring hot grease on the thermomiter.)

The bins are built using pallets though we started out with just a 3' high hardware cloth circle which worked well but was small. We are using large amounts of cover material which must be ok since things are heating up well. Urine and cover materials alone had us up to 110 F within a week. The day after adding some cooking oil it was up in the 130 range. The pile is about 3' cubed and seems to be remaining about that same size even as we add more material to it. We hope to leave this pile to age soon for use next spring/summer (if it is ready by then.) I'm not worried about safety since we haven't been pooping in this pile (perhaps next year the fecophobia will be overcome.) I expect the pile will freeze over winter and I'm hopeing it will be past the point of needing to heat back up in spring.

I suppose I can always run a few tests before using it to make sure it is ready. One test I heard of was to take some of the hopefully finished compost and seal it in a plastic bag for three days. After three days check the bag. If it has inflated, it is probably not done. If it smells bad when opened, it is probably not done. If that test says it is done but one is still worried, try test planting some beans or peas, I've heard that they are quite sensitive to unfinished compost.

I hope my stories can be of help to others.

Author: Joe Jenkins
Friday, July 07, 2006 - 1:07 pm
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Nice info - thanks for the update.

Author: Anonymous
Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 10:12 pm
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Using just about anything we can find for cover materials! This is kinda an update now that we have been humanure composting for a while.

We are in central florida so the weather is warm and it is wet at least half the year. Just about anything will start composting here if you leave it in a bin with a little moisture.

We collect leaves and other yard wastes around the appartment complex and put it in plastic storage bins to save for use as cover materials. It tends to get pretty warm all on it's own! How fun! We have also swiped ward waste from other neighborhoods too and collected leaves from places we worked. I did once get some hay as cover material but for some reason the smell of hay seems to accentuate any undesirable odor to me so I don't think I'll use it again. In the recient batch of collected materials there is a large amount of pine needles, I'll keep an eye on how they do and report back.

We have found that the bucket contents will also start to get warm but I suspect that this is because we have such a diverse mix of contents right in our toilet bucket. There is no separation of anything, urine seems to be a key ingredient. We toss all kitchen scraps and waste cooking oils right in the bucket with the humanure and cover materials. Means we have to empty the bucket more often but composting is so great that we love it!

Our indoor cover material is shredded paper and sawdust. I think the sawdust is actually mostly cypress but it seems to be working anyway. As we are not going to be using the compost on eddibles the shredded paper is any and all paper we don't need to save. Including junk mail, even the glossy colored stuff. As we get coffee grounds from the local coffee shop we use those as well.

We live in an appartment. We have a 10' X 10' patio where we have a couple of 50 gallon trash bins with holes drilled in em. Those are our compost bins. They fill up pretty quickly but they do get nice and hot. When the bins fill up, we take them up to some property we have and dump them. There we add more cover material but generally there is no offencive smell by that time.

The pile from the bins that were emptied about 4 months ago, no longer resemble anything that was added to the compost. Nice medium/light brown to almost a sandy color.

Composting is so great, we love it, it is such an uplifting activity!!!!!!

Author: James K
Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - 6:58 pm
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Mold is not a problem in the outside compost bin. It is one of the many processes going on to break down the organic materials.

Cheers,

James

Author: Anonymous
Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - 1:16 pm
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I have been saving black acacia clippings for cover material for my outside compost pile. They are in large plastic recycling "yard waste" bins provided by my garbage company. I pulled some out to look at, and discovered lots of mold. Does it matter if I use very moldy plant material to cover the deposits on my outside pile? thank you

Author: Anonymous
Monday, June 12, 2006 - 3:15 pm
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Theme: Seeking a supplier of wood pellets manufacturing equipment

I am an entrepreneur and the owner of a big saw-mill in Zhitomir Region, Ukraine. I have a resource of a million tons of dry saw dust which I would like to process into pelletized fuel.
There is a need in the in saw dust processing equipment. I am ready to review any proposal (leasing, franchising, credit) and also there is some interest in proposals of used equipment! I am waiting for real proposals!

Owner: Roman: Kruchko + 380501641771
Contact person: Manager-interpreter Artem +380502423838
E-mail: kruchko.roman@mail.ru

Author: shelly
Sunday, March 25, 2001 - 2:46 pm
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greetings. i live inland from the central coast of california and have been having a very difficult time finding a source of sawdust that doesn't contain redwood. most all lumber mills around here have a mixed product, alot of which is the wonderful redwood tree.
since i don't think it wise to use this sawdust, i am wondering if rice hulls would make a good cover material? there is an apple processing plant near here that uses ricehulls in some part of its processing. when used, they are damp and smell like vinegar. as far as i can tell, they don't use any chemicels in the processing but i would make sure prior to using on my compost pile. does anyone have any thoughts as to whether or not this cover would be sufficent to cover and contain smells while in the indoor setting?
thanks for any thoughts you might have on this matter.

Author: joe jenkins
Sunday, March 25, 2001 - 2:59 pm
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I think the rice hulls would work, although your toilet would probably smell like vinegar and maybe draw fruit flies. Have you tried redwood sawdust yet? I would like to know how it works. White oak is a rot resistant wood here in western PA, but I inadvertantly got a load of it for cover material and used it anyway, and it worked fine. It was maybe a little slow to start composting, but it did do the job. I think I'd give redwood sawdust a try, especially if you can mix it with other tree species, and see what happens. Maybe use it to cover the rice hulls for odor and fruitfly prevention.

Author: shelly
Monday, March 26, 2001 - 12:06 pm
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great. it sure would be easier to get loads of mixed sawdust than having to do the rice hull thing. i'll give it go and let you know what happens. thanks!
p.s. i love your book. i feel it gives me something concrete i can do to combat the crisis we have in our environment. i'm always angry when i think i can't do something about important issues so this is a wonderful way for me (and the people who visit me :-) to take charge in a small way.

Author: kash
Wednesday, March 28, 2001 - 10:37 am
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It's great if you have a local source of sawdust, but not always possible, especially if you live in a big city.

I've tried various materials, the ground newsprint pet litter works, but it gets mushy so I switched to compressed wood pellets.

The first time, I bought a little bag from the pet store, but it's expensive so I'll buy a 40 lb. bag of fireplace pellets next. All my research indicates that they're made of untreated sawdust and if a binder is used, it's cornstarch.

They're also great if you have limited space. The pellets are practically dustless. When you need a bucketful, scoop some out and add water, they about double in volume.

Author: J. Lumley
Monday, April 09, 2001 - 9:23 am
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The very best material in my experience for masking the odor of humanure is tree leaves that
have been composted a bit. These are easy to
come by in most areas. I have landscape guys
bring me leaves by the truck loads. Most people
aren't going to need or want quite that much
material. The benefit of the partially composted
leaves seems to be that they contain beneficial
microrganisms that go to work on the smelly stuff
in your bucket to mask the odor. I add a little
pine sawdust to the mix, if I want the pineforet
fragrance. Once the humanure has composted for
a few months in a leaf pile out of doors it can
be recyled again into your bucket and makes an
excellent "flushing medium". It's light, covers
well and masks orders well. Good luck JIM

Author: J Lumley
Monday, April 09, 2001 - 9:34 am
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Maybe some one needs to start marketing a flushing
product, sort of like an orgainic version of kitty
litter for humans. This product most assuredly
in my experience would consist of leaves. Leaves
are far superior to sawdust in my experience. Leaves break down easier than wood fiber I find.
Sort of the difference between wood and paper
which leaves are more similar. Also there is
something in the leaves that absorps and masks
the odor of the humanure. I have the landscapers
run over the leaves with a mulching lawn mower
so that they are fine, sometimes almost like
course sawdust. Whole unrotted leaves will not
work well as they take up to much space and don't
cover well. Another thing I have discovered is
that citrus rinds in the "urine jug" or in the
bucket keep down odor tremendously also. I think
the citric acid may be attacking the bacteria
responsible for the stench. Good luck, keep an
open mind which you surely must have if you are
composting your body wastes. Jim Lumley

Author: Stephen Linebaugh Jr.
Tuesday, May 01, 2001 - 9:48 am
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I use mixed sawdust, sometimes contains walnut and chestnut. Yes it will take longer but Oh well. So go ahead and use the redwood if thats all you have. I have used peat moss in the past. The large 6 cubic foot bag costs about $7.00 and lasted the four of us a month or more.
Joe, your probably my favorite author. I have read and put good use to your books. I have a 5 gallon sawdust toilet now and am planning to build a solar compostor in my house that I'm designing. I also have recycled some slate and roofed my recycled hewn log home. From the top of it I can see the landfill here in York Pa.

Author: Jessica Dilworth
Saturday, May 26, 2001 - 5:07 pm
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We're wanting to build a solar toilet here in Arizona and wonder if anyone has some information that's more detailed than the lovely picture on page 132 of the Humanure book. Gracias

Author: Joe Jenkins
Sunday, May 27, 2001 - 10:55 am
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I believe you can buy solar toilet plans from Larry Warnberg in Washington (360-665-2926) and from John Cruikshank in Colorado (5569 North County Rd. 29, Loveland, CO 80538). These are listed on pages 144-145 of the Humanure Handbook, 2nd edition.

Author: Dan Miller
Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 5:06 pm
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The Humanure Handbook advises not to use redwood sawdust, but does not say why. I'm curious what the reasons may be. I'm glad to read Mr. Jenkins note on this list to try it, because we have a ton of mixed redwood and doug fir sawdust from our sawmill (here in Point Arena, CA) which we have been using in our new sawdust toilet for about a month now. If anyone has experience with this, please let me know. I suppose in a year or two I'll be able to comment on its feasibility.

Author: Joe Jenkins
Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 10:38 pm
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The reason redwood sawdust is not recommended for compost is because redwood is rot resistant. However, white oak is also somewhat rot resistant and I have used white oak sawdust with success in my humanure compost. So someone should try the redwood sawdust and see what happens.

Author: Dan Miller
Saturday, June 09, 2001 - 1:39 am
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Thanks Joe! (particularly for showing us, so eloquently, I might add, such a beautiful, intact, way back to the earth!). The redwood/doug fir sawdust mix I'm using has aged a few years and has turned brown, mostly due to the fact that we mixed lime into it half a year ago or so (a friend recommended this to help break down the redwood sawdust). I'll keep ya'll posted down the line when there is some, or lack of, activity to report with our humanure compost.

Author: Becky Hayes
Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 2:43 pm
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I wanted to read this page before I emailed a question that may have been answered here, but I didn't find my answer, so...

We live in the White Mountains of Arizona and have a ready source of pine needles in the city's parks in Show Low, Pinetop and Lakeside. I thought I read something in the Humanure Handbook about using pine needles, but when I looked for it, I couldn't find it. We can buy sawdust and straw, but in the fall and early winter, we can get pine needles by the truckload for free, just by taking a rake to a city park.

Anybody got any feedback on the viability of pine needles as cover material? I would still use the sawdust in the bucket, so the pine needles would be for the compost bin, in place of straw. Thanks for any assistance.

And thank you, Joe, for all of the info in your book... you took care of all of my frustrations on personal environmental issues.

Becky Hayes, Snowflake, AZ

Author: shelly skye
Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 9:02 pm
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What a wealth of information being shared here on this message board. I haven't tried the redwood sawdust I was originally concerned about but I have been using rice hulls mixed with soil. I am not entirely satisfied with the results as the rice hulls don't absorb moisture at all, though they seem to be doing a good job of covering material in the compost pile, along with weeds etc. While I am on the subject of sawdust, I have only found a coarse material that is more like small wood shavings. So far, I can't find the product that I think of sawdust...that fine powdery stuff that is left when you use a table saw or some other shop tool. Which kind of material are we talking about? Wood shavings or saw dust? Please advise. Thanks for all your input.

Author: Joe Jenkins
Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 12:42 am
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The sawdust I use is not the fine powdery stuff, or the coarse wood shavings. It's sawdust from sawmills (where tree logs are sawn into boards). The essential element for bio-activity seems to be the use of material from green, living wood, not from kiln-dried wood. You can use wood shavings *if* they're from green living wood. But they take longer to decompose. Larger compost operations use kiln dried sawdust (such as from ground pallets), but they have a mix of materials that enable it to work.

Author: Dan Holmes
Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 9:42 am
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Regarding pine needles
I have been humanuring for about 4 years now and have never used pine needles for a cover material in my bins because of my experience with them in my leaf compost bins. Typically each year I will gather about 1000 bags of leaves to dump in huge bins to slowly rot down. This takes about 3 years so I have 4 bins and I just rotate each year. I have noticed that if some pine needles get in the mix they are still there 3 years later while the leaves look like coffee grounds. The needles are somewhat broken down but no where near like the leaves. I do not have any experience in composting needles where they would get hot and that might make a difference. I would also be concerned about what needles would do to the PH in your compost. Again no experience there, just have heard that needles change PH. Hope this helps you Becky.

Author: Ghia Hoover
Thursday, August 16, 2001 - 12:07 am
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Hi! I have never composted *or* gardened, but I have always wanted to and have been reading books and gathering information while waiting for a plot to garden *on*. I just found your book online and can't wait to buy a copy and get started with my own humanure toilet. I live in Austin, TX and I don't think we have sawmills here. I could be wrong. Anyway, what we do have is a lot of deciduous leaves. For example, my front yard is COVERED in Magnolia leaves, oak leaves, maple leaves, etc. The whole neighborhood is covered, really, so I'm sure I can get more leaves from neighbors. So how do I get the whole, dried leaves into a nice ground up state that can cover humanure? I don't have a mulching mower, I have a human-powered push mower. But I do have a Vitamix blender that will pulverize just about anything. Would that work?

Author: Joe Jenkins
Thursday, August 16, 2001 - 8:20 pm
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We have used leaves many times as a cover material and we don't bother to grind them up. Just use them whole, or grind them up a bit with your hand when you use them (assuming they're dry).

Author: Ghia Hoover
Friday, August 17, 2001 - 2:31 pm
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I don't know why I didn't think about hand-crumbling the leaves. I somehow assumed they needed to be the same texture as saw dust. But last night I realized how much fun it would be to gather up a big bag of leaves and then jump up and down on it to crumble the leaves!

Author: Paul Jenkins-Jones
Saturday, August 18, 2001 - 2:19 pm
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I am only just beginning to discover the joys of leaf crumbling. Does anyone have any advice on the most effective ways of collecting and crumbling leaves throught the early months of the year?

Author: Clare Weaver
Wednesday, September 26, 2001 - 1:04 pm
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Hi, I'm in need of some fast help. We are re-doing our house, and are moving into a "portable" on the property, while the construction workers do their thing. I'm new to country living, and pretty ignorant. I thought we would be able to hook up our temporary toilet to our septic, but have found out we can't without much difficulty. So, I've started researching temporary solutions. I love the idea of the sawdust toilet. The problem is that I live in Italy, where there is virtually no sawmill activity whatsoever. I found the kiln dried sawdust at the pet supply store, but read in the on-line Humanure Handbook that this is not the right stuff. I can come up with some leaves and weeds for the compost pile, but am wondering what other quickie items I could purchase for the cover material. Should I look for a cover material at a pet store, or am I better off at a garden supply place? I doubt they sell those wood stove pellets around here. It will be interesting trying to translate what I need, since I'm unfamiliar with things like leaf mold in my own language. I did a brief scout at the garden supply store, and the only thing I recognized was potting soil. Everything else looked like strange balls of chemical type stuff. (Organic gardening is a little-known concept in this part of the world.)My construction workers said we should just dig a hole, and let the temporary toilet (with water flush) empty into it. Then bury it once were back in the house. This sounded very not okay to me, and gave me worry about contaminating our well. Help. (This is fascinating stuff.)

Author: Stephen L
Wednesday, September 26, 2001 - 10:54 pm
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Look at a garden supply store for "peat moss".
Or if I were in a pinch I would scrape some humus off of the forest floor. Humus is the remains of decomposed leaves, plants, trees, anything that grew there and died and is now just a light earthy smelling material. Normally I've seen that humus will be around 2" to 3", I'm guessing 8 to 10 centimeters deep.
Or if you can find any old rotted trees laying sometimes you can grab handfuls of rotted wood, normally around the trunk. I think that would work as well.
Good luck

Author: Clare Weaver
Thursday, September 27, 2001 - 12:47 pm
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Thank you very much for your input. I'll try all three things...beginning with trying to say peat moss in Italian. Moss is "muschio", but peat...no clue. Thanks again!

Author: Vere Scott
Wednesday, October 24, 2001 - 1:29 am
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See my postings under the conversations "Scrubbing the bucket" and "Worms".

As a humanure cover material, I use dry, sifted, finished/mature composted humanure.

I have composted it outdoors (with dry autumn leaves as a carbon source & urine as a nitrogen source) in a 64-cubic foot New Zealand compost box over one summer and two winters. I recycle it right back into my compost toilet pail system.

The humus content of the dry sifted mature compost has a huge surface area. This helps to adsorb odours from the compost toilet pails.

Recycling the dry, sifted, finished/mature humanure compost in this way avoids the need for relying on imported (and sometimes) purchased materials such as sawdust and peat moss. (Mining peat bogs (valuable carbon sinks) has always been ecologically and ethically unsound and another unecessary impact on Earth's beleagured boreal forests).

Author: Curtis Folts
Sunday, January 13, 2002 - 3:59 am
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Just as Jim Lumley stated I have a landscape company dump their leaves and grass clippings at my place. They used to pay to put it in the land-fill, now they put it on my land for free. The grass often gets over 140°F by itself.

I use the grass as cover material in my toilet and the leaves to cover the bucket-loads in the compost bin. Today my compost temperature ranged from 110°F to 146°F.

Before I had my landscaping friends contributing I drove my truck down alleys with a grass fork in the bed and loaded piles of grass clippings and bags of leaves from near trash bins. A few people wondered what I was doing with their waste, I just smiled, waved and said "I compost" and they would smile back and mutter something about a crazy harmless type to their spouse. Halloween weekend the leaves at a city park were bagged and ready for pickup, so I did. That was 27 large bags of leaves not in the land-fill, and 3 city workers got to take a nap the next afternoon while pretending to pick up leaves.

By the way, my toilet is a beside commode sitting by my bed for a few months while I remodel my house and there is absolutely no smell at all. It amazes people when I tell them what they're standing next to and ask them if they can smell anything.

Author: Larry Warnberg
Saturday, March 08, 2003 - 10:59 am
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Hello Composters:
I'm glad to see this lively discussion about available absorbent carbonaceous materials for composting humanure. We have an office paper shredder in the bathroom, and a wastebasket for paper refuse such as junk mail, newsletters, old mail, etc. While sitting on the toilet the shredder can be fed, producing a good absorbent covering material for humanure. This multitasking returns two materials to the Earth that are typically discarded as waste by most households.
Humusly, Larry

Author: Anonymous
Sunday, May 25, 2003 - 11:46 pm
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I have used hardwood mulch for cover material... it worked ok for in the house but I have heard that it would take longer to break down in the compost pile. Add the fact that it feels like dealing with courser bits of wood mixed with dirt. I felt a need to try something different.
I don't have access to sawdust so I am currently trying all purpose bed litter, 100% yellow pine; it even says that its good for composting. Unfortunately, it is kiln dried and does seem to have a light weight when using to cover "deposits"
in the bucket. It also doesn't seem to cover the smell as well (at least immediately). Given some time it does seem to cover it.

Is there some way to improve upon it?? should I wet it somehow in the holder bucket letting it air dry for use in the toilet? Do I really need to leave it outside for awhile?? Any ideas would be appreciated...

thx!

Author: Anonymous
Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 6:02 pm
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We have alot of coffee shops and micro-breweries
which throw out alot of spent hops and rice which
i think would be ideal,i love the smell of spent
hops..and the coffee grounds from one coffee shop
would probably be enough though i would add some
finished bio-active compost to it to help it
decompose...and grass clippings,i bet the nice man
who cuts the grass in our local parks would
probably deliver within a few miles just to save
a trip to the dump which is many miles away,and
how about asking the grocery store for old produce

Author: Vivian Newkirk
Monday, July 28, 2003 - 8:41 pm
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I am new to this message board. In a few weeks we'll be using our new bucket. My husband is concerned about my hauling old hay from my organic gardener to use in the outside compost pile. He thinks it should be fresh hay.Is fresh better than moldy stuff? Also, he's concerned about cleaning the bucket. Any ideas to share with me? He wants only to use peat moss in the bucket.

Author: susan
Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 6:27 am
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Has anyone tried straight coffee grounds as a cover material? The only locally available sawdust is spruce which is rot resistant so I am mixing it with grounds from the coffee shop. I tear up the filters and compost them too.

My husband was also concerned about cleaning the buckets (even though I am the one doing it). We tried lining them with paper bags first which does keep the bucket cleaner but was a pain. I just scrub them with water and toilet brush and then leave them out in the sun. Works fine.

Author: admin
Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 12:24 pm
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The hay can be old or new. It doesn't matter. Cleaning the buckets is easy enough. If you don't have a water source at your compost bins (see the Humanure Hilton at https://www.jenkinspublishing.com/hilton.html), carry a gallon of water out with you when you empty the bucket. A gallon of water, a little drop of biodegradable soap, and a long handled toilet brush will clean two five gallon buckets. Pour the wash water on your compost pile, then put a couple inches of cover material in the bottom of the bucket when you set it back into the toilet, and keep a lid on it until it's ready to put back into the toilet again.

Joe Jenkins

Author: Herb
Thursday, August 07, 2003 - 12:44 pm
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I have tried several flusher materials including leaves, sawdust, pine needles, weeds, etc. and find the absolutely best PERFECT materal to be peat.

Peat seems to have a natural affinity for shit and the two begin to combine immediately in a real lovey dovey relationship with no smell and when you dump the bucket (bag) out the shit is already nearly unrecognizeable. The peat doesn't just cover the turds, it seems to neutralize or tame their nasty personality very quickly.

However, peat needs to be prepared if you dig your own. I have a peat swamp right out my back door with unlimited amounts (where I dig is expanding frog habitat). Unfortunately the raw peat is heavy and wet and takes work to dig and haul, and when it dries it tends to dry in clumps and needs to be pulverized which is more work.

So although I prefer peat (and so does my shit), I actually use sawdust more often as it easier to collect with no need for preparation. The peat I dig I prefer to use directly in my garden (pure sand here and peat is a good soil modifier -- peat rules!)

Peat can also be purchased at garden centers in compressed bales, but I don't know how good that stuff is, although others have recommended it.

Author: Dan Miller
Thursday, October 23, 2003 - 10:21 pm
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Wow, how time flys! I last posted here a couple of years ago regarding Redwood sawmill dust as cover material. This is not a scientific report, but our finding is that it worked just fine. I can't say if it went themophilic or not, but digging through the pile there was no trace of what we knew went in there... just fine humus that grew some excelent tomatoes. It seemed the secret ingrediant to break down the redwood was poop. Science aside, we are having superb results using redwood.

Author: Joe Jenkins
Saturday, October 25, 2003 - 11:48 am
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Thanks for that update, Dan.

Author: Herb
Wednesday, October 29, 2003 - 12:12 pm
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Just emptied my outhouse sh*tbag this morning and am amazed again how well it works and how easy to use the humanure system is. I used to bury my sh*t, but this system is much easier. I've been using the humanure system for a year now and my No. 1 bin pile is just a few inches high. It'll take 10 years to fill it up at this rate!

I've been yard rakings of late for cover material: a mixture of leaves, sawdust, and a few pine needles.

As I posted earlier, I found that peat works best as a cover material, but takes more preparation and therefore better used as a straight soil conditioner.

The only glitch in my system is that I have empty plastic bags to dispose of (I don't use the pail system). The used bags go to the landfill with my other garbage. I wish there were a leak-proof bio-degradable bag out there.

Author: Ron Mazerolle
Thursday, October 30, 2003 - 11:51 am
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For those of you who live in the cities and can't find a suitable cover material, Sun-Mar, the manfacutrer of compost toilets sells a peat moss hemp stock mixture for use with their toilets. This is also suitable for use as a cover material for sawdust toilets. It sells for $15 a bag in Canada. Sun-Mar has dealers in countries all over the world and you can order direct from them. Hope this helps. They have a web site at Sun-Mar.com for more info.

Author: Herb
Sunday, November 02, 2003 - 12:09 pm
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The local paper has an ad for the following:

"Dry Aspen Wood Fiber Cattle Bedding, $2.40 per 45-lb bag, American Excelsior Company."

These would be shavings from a planing mill I do believe and would seem to be a good bed for toilet cover material.

Aspen would break down easily in the compost pile. The price is right. And the aspen shavings could be shredded more by hand if that was needed. Sounds like a good bet if you could find something similar in your area and you have trouble collecting your own materials.

Author: Terry Todd
Saturday, November 22, 2003 - 10:24 am
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This is my first time to this mesage board and I have tears in my eyes. Before I could finish reading The Humanure I had already started building my system. I am a newbie here though.

I know that pressure treated sawdust is a No NO. Kiln dried sawdust is also POOPooed in The PooP Bible. I have a free and easily accessible source of kiln dried sawdust. I am wondering if simply allowing it to soak by watering the supply a while, before bringing it into the house to be used as cover material, will render it suitable?

I have another concern. I live in the city. I have a fairly large piece of property for a city dweller with fruit trees on it. I also have rats. The cats in the area do their best as well as the snake that lives under our house to control the rats. They thrive on the fruit in our trees as do the squirrels. They truly are adaptable creatures. My concern is for what might become a disease issue if they should find refuge and a steady food source in our compost pile from the most precious humanure. In your book, Mr. Jenkins, you state you have not had problems with rats. You however do not live in the city where rats tend to be more dependent on human interaction. The plague in Europe was related to the rat population and the the presence of fecal material. Any information I can get here would greatly be appreciated.

Sincerely,
Terry Todd
Sacramento, CA

Author: Joe Jenkins
Saturday, November 22, 2003 - 11:00 pm
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I would definitely rat proof my compost bins, if I were you, by lining them with wire mesh and putting a wire mesh lid on top.

You can use kiln dried sawdust as a cover material, especially if you also collect your urine in your toilet (which you should). The urine will help rehydrate the sawdust and make it more suitable for composting.

Author: alfons J
Sunday, November 23, 2003 - 5:19 pm
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Hi Joe,
this is a different sort of question; but Herb(oct.29) actually approaches the issue, which is regarding the 'area' required for composting.
I should probably preface this question by mentioning that I'm an architect, currently working on a community scale scheme to incorporate composting toilets as an alternative sanitation infrastructure, so I'm actually seeking a method to calculate composting volume/surface area for hundreds(+!) of people (YIKES!) any clues on sources for this kind of info? (I suspect you are also the most qualified person to ask for an informed guess.)
Another tricky issue is regarding "timing" for rotating cultivation or planting on compost "lots"
to minimize surface area. (I'm in a part of brasil where seasons are not really an issue)
Do you currently know of anyone considering other large scale schemes?

Any leads you can offer would really be appreciated.

Thanks,
Alfons
(P.S: it probably goes without saying that your book has been incredibly inspirational!)

Author: Joe Jenkins
Sunday, November 23, 2003 - 6:38 pm
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There are lots of people/places that have been contacting me in recent months wanting to do large scale humanure composting (for festivals, mainly, but also one agricultural enterprise in Guatemala, small villages, etc.). I have a standing offer to help anyone who is doing this sort of thing, including doing a site visit. No one has gone that far with it yet (that I know of).

Our family composts all humanure/urine, food scraps, etc., year-round, and we produce about 85 cubic feet of finished compost per year (roughly). This disappears into the soil rather quickly when we apply it to the garden. We do use sawdust from a saw mill as a base (cover material for the toilet). We also use quite a bit of refuse from the garden in the compost. I think it's all explained in my book.

Author: Herb
Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 12:27 pm
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The warm climate in Brazil (compared to the northern US where I live) would seem to be an IDEAL composting region with rapid "melt down" of the pile. Here my compost bin is frozen solid for 5 months of the year and not doing much during that time....

I have noticed in my short time using the system that the pile "melts down" PDQ. That is, you add a fresh load to the compost bin and a few days/couple weeks later the pile has reduced itself in size quite a bit. And I do NOT put urine in the pile. However, it is in the shade where the sun can't dry it out....

Author: Alfons J
Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 6:44 pm
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Well, the stage I have gotten to, is to begin drawing up land-use plans for a quickly growing, (EXTREMELY low-budget, but very ambitious) community on the periphery of Rio de Janeiro.
My initial and most urgent foot in the door, is a pilot project to design a toilet facility for a school in this community which will be used daily by approximately 250 children and teachers. Projecting for any amount of time in the future leads one to conclude that this scheme in a dense urban setting will require very SPECIFIC ideas of what to do with, and where to deposit the compost. (not to mention how it gets done and by whom- but I’m working on that.)
The second big issue is: no saw dust OR leaves here.
I am also a big fan of Rev.Moule, but the soil here is similar to red clay. (unsure if it can be used at all for anything.)
We have cardboard and food scraps in limited supply, but it seems the toilet design itself is going hybrid in the direction of a “slow moldering” bin type, for fear that the initial chemical and bacteriological composition may not be adequate for thermophilic composting, inspiring me to simply add more time to the equation until I come up with an appropriate/available addative; although speed may be very important due to the numbers that I'm dealing with. (this project has GOT to work or my name is Mudd....or perhaps something more appropriate.)
Hmmmmm.... need some help here.
Ever been to Rio?

-alfons

Author: Alfons J
Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 7:19 pm
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Hi Joe-
I'm back already!
the bit of information I missed in your reply:
How many members in your family?
thanks,
-alfons

Author: Joe Jenkins
Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 8:26 pm
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There are four of us here full time: My wife, myself, a 13 year old daughter, and an 18 year old son. We also have lots of visitors and frequently have over night guests.

I am very interested in your project. I have been in contact with more and more people wanting to do humanure composting for larger numbers of people, as well as grad students wanting to do research on the same topic. I think it won't be long before we get somewhere with this. I am willing to help anyone who needs it. I will even visit the site at my own expense if it's a serious project (anywhere in the world).

Author: Larry Warnberg
Friday, December 05, 2003 - 11:40 am
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Congratulations to Alfons for tackling such an ambitious project in Brasil. I have followed his recent discussions with Joe regarding the challenges of providing composting toilet facilities on a large scale. I want to make a few suggestions.
I have used a sawdust/bucket toilet system for years successfully, and also wanted to provide a toilet for oyster customers and kayakers who visit our small farm on Willapa Bay in SW Washington State. After some experimenting, I designed a passive solar outhouse that uses a standard poly cannery tote as the primary receptacle under the toilet bench. Photos are available at: www.solartoilet.com
Alfons may be able to use the plastic totes in his community application. They are designed to be moved easily with a fork lift or inexpensive hand truck. When a bin is 3/4 full it can be moved to an adjacent area, covered, and allowed to finish composting for one year, then used for landscaping needs. I add a generous supply of earthworms to the aging bins, and water as needed.
Someone will need to be trained as a designated toilet manager, possibly someone also assigned to the landscaping/gardening crew. Food wastes can also be added to the bins, reducing solid waste disposal costs, further involving the community's food preparation staff. An integrated system can involve students as part of their education on the importance of the nutrient cycle.

I wonder if you might find a source of sawdust somewhere nearby. Look around, surely there must be a pallet factory, cabinet shop, or some sawmilling operations not too far away. If not, shredded newspaper/carboard will work. It is not as effective in controlling odors, but if sufficient quantity is used to layer over fresh deposits it works acceptably. A 5 hp garden shredder does a quick job on paper and cardboard. Attach a porous grain/vegetable sack to the shredder outlet to collect the absorbent carbonaceous material.
Good luck with your project. Let us readers know how it goes.
Pacifically, Larry
warnberg@pacifier.com

Author: AlfonsJ
Monday, December 08, 2003 - 12:15 am
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hi Larry and all,
Time flies- but I’m back.
Thanks for the input! I checked out the S.C.A.T: -the extra heat could really help! latest development here is becoming the problem of designing a kind of failsafe “common denominator” construction solution, as in one size fits all regardless of whether cover materials are available YET or not. (but I have an Idea) First: the toilet compartment has developed into a kind of sloped bottom vault (Similar to clivus) (convenient considering a lot of sites are sloped ) actually, an extra lining or container would probably not get used consistently and I wonder where the leachate would go -The slope helps drain leachate and separate urine which will empty into the simplest/cheapest grey-water urine dilution system I can come up with. (You must realize that the solution here must be practically FREE or it will not get built.) therefore: leachate drains from vault via a flexible or pvc tube into the top lid of a 20 liter plastic bucket buried at the low end of the vault. Sink and shower greywater also enter through the top of the lid via another tube. Pouching a screen mesh over the top of the bucket before pushing on the lid provides a filter to catch hair/lint etc. Diluted leachate/urine exits the bucket via a pvc tube which penetrates the bucket near the rim but makes a 90degree elbow to approximately half the depth of the bucket. It’s kind of a high volume sink trap, but it doesn’t let the urine exit full strength. it then enters a rocky planted area. (I can’t really calculate ratios for the bucket, I need to simply work with what’s available.)
Due to the fact that a dense urban community will need to establish designated areas for future compost depositing (one cannot assume there will be a market or willing recipient for the finished product) it therefore follows that there will be a place to GROW appropriate foliage to provide proper cover Material !(“leafy”perhaps, if that is the best solution) I am attempting to push the idea that the usefulness of the carbon -rich cover material could provide a small cottage industry for some enterprising local if he can come up with a way to shred it. (we are talking about a VERY low income community.) One remarkable local phenomenon here is the fact that recycling is very well established, and in dense urban areas some people make a career out of neatly and industriously collecting cardboard and heavy paper from the curbside and garbage bins. It generally gets hauled to central recycling facilities, where they get paid by the kilo.
Perhaps even the recycling facilities themselves are the connection for some entrepreneur to create a cover “kitty litter” if you will.
In non urban areas there is absolutely no shortage of dried vegetable matter- as in dried palm fronds which blanket the ground in coastal areas. The problem is transportation and processing. Therefore, if I can figure out what’s leafy, grows fast, and dries out well, each community can grow their own in the compost area. Free cover, closed loop! the cardbard collectors can make the paper/leaf combo locally.
Rev. moule suggests that the compost itself can be used as cover mat’l up to 8 times. (...?)
I wonder what happened to him the 9th time?
-D’you know Joe?
(Kind of a long one, I don’t mean to take up so much space-)
Ate logo
-a

Author: Anonymous
Monday, December 08, 2003 - 8:15 am
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What about starting something like a garden house on rural land.Have enough land to grow cover materials close at hand.Then you wouldn't need to transport them.Your house would be near your garden & compost bin. Maybe a stone wall bin could be made for humanure composting if they are close at hand.

Author: Anonymous
Monday, December 08, 2003 - 4:51 pm
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Hi Alphons,Is the school going to serve meals?.if
so,then the kitchen staff could save the Garbage,
or the last one out of the building could dump the
days garbage on top of the days"deposits",that
along with the toiletpaper,even if the toiletpaper
is newspapers the children will each bring to
school..It would be great if the school will have
a garden,then garden wastes can be added and the
Garden will teach so many subjects,botany,biology,
even math and science..and it could supplement the
childrens diet with vitamin rich veggies...

Author: AlfonsJ
Thursday, December 11, 2003 - 11:42 am
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The food scrap idea is an excellent one; while this school will realistically not provide much more than “enclosure” (we’re talking eXtremely poor. Think: Iraq without sand.) your idea ALSO suggests that kids could bring organic/food scraps from home, as an alternative disposal method (!!)
I should note that one of the given conditions of this project is the site, which is NOT rural, and therefore has very precise spatial limits. It is bounded by already existing dense urban settlements, major roads and a canal which serves as the current (hazardously unsustainable) but unfortunately very convenient, sanitation solution.
What this means, is that for whatever land area is available, priority will be given to use of the space for habitation. So far it is quite an uphill battle to convince anyone that a “garden” is a necessary urban feature. (but I’m working on it.) Currently my planning strategy involves the argument that the composting garden can be used to improve (or make buildable) existing low-lying sites such as those immediately adjacent to the river, which are recognized as being hazardous during floods.
The appropriateness of swampy conditions for composting remains yet another worry;
DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY EXPERIENCE WITH FLOODING or HEAVY RAIN on their compost? Does it affect anything in the long run?
One of my other theoretical proposals involves the compatibility of urban composting with urban roof gardens. I foresee THIS as the perfect future combination of efficient / profitable real estate use, with convenient service and access. Of course this kind of solution gets expensive and technically more complicated. (nothing is easy, folks.)
Thanks, Anon!
Keep the ideas comin’!
-alfons

Author: Anonymous
Thursday, December 11, 2003 - 4:03 pm
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I was thinking that you might want to make the
school a multi-use facility,perhaps a weekend
Market place where people,especially during the
rainy season,could sell their wares,vegetables and
prepared foods,etc...I think it would also be
great if the building were used at night as a
social center for dances and such,you could charge
a cleaning/utilities fee which would cover the
schools utiliies during the day...it would also be
great if it was used as a homeless shelter in the
winter,open 7pm-7am.think multi-use and Localneed

Author: Anonymous
Friday, December 12, 2003 - 6:24 am
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The kudzu plant grows fast.

Author: Peter
Friday, January 30, 2004 - 2:57 am
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Tip: Pure rice hulls as additive does not decompose. Actually, the humanure decomposes, but the rice hulls look very much the same two years after in a humanure pile that has stayed over 100 degrees F for months. I'm thinking more diversity will help, mixing rice hulls with sawdust, old leaves, etc. I'm guessing the problem with rice hulls is that they do not really soak up moisture (hence nitrogen source) well. But their light structure does add plenty of oxygen.

Author: Veronika
Tuesday, February 03, 2004 - 12:15 am
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How about using lime instead of sawdust? I know it cuts down smells very efficently & is quite natural, but has anyone tried using lime?

Author: Joe Jenkins (Admin)
Tuesday, February 03, 2004 - 12:54 pm
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Lime does not promote the growth of microorganisms, it impedes it. That's why sewage sludge is "lime stabilized" - if the pH is raised enough, microroganisms are killed, which is exactly the opposite of what compost is all about.

Author: Herb_W
Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 10:21 am
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For people who have a hard time gathering organic material I would suggest the baled peat one can buy at Walmart. Peat seems to have a natural affinity to human waste and no fooling.

I know there is some hesitation about using bagged peat, but I can't really figure out why. It is a HUGE resource scarsely tapped and is renewable. There are millions of acres of it in North America.

Author: Stephen
Friday, February 06, 2004 - 11:49 am
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I have used peat in a pinch. I am using it now since my sawdust is frozen and soaked.
I prefer the sawdust in the bin, seems to compost easier than peat.
I have heard the opposite concerning the amount available and its renewability.

Author: Aaron W
Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 11:48 pm
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I too am unsure about the peat issue. I did a google search for "peat moss' and "sustainability" and the majority of the hits i had indicated that peat moss (or at least canadian and possibly new zealand peat moss), is a mostly untapped resource, and that it is sustainably harvested. Of the statistics they had for canada, they estimated that canadian peat bogs accumulated 50 million tonnes per year, of which only something like 700,000 tonnes were harvested. And if they harvest it in a sustainable manner, not exhausting the bog, and allowing it to regenerate, as they say they do, then I don't see what the problem is.

I would like to have more information from those who feel that using peat moss is a bad idea, because I haven't found any information on it.

Of course a locally available material that would otherwise be waste is the most preferable material.

I've just read the book and I think I may use peat moss to start, until I can find a local resource to use. I live in Albuquerque, NM, and I doubt we have any fresh sawdust --- any sawdust I could get here would have to be imported, and most likely either kiln-dried or from lumber that has nasty additives on it.

I am interested in exploring how the issue of cover material would play out on a larger scale; I have a pipe dream of starting a business selling people toilet systems and then charging a small fee to haul away their humanure and bring them fresh containers and cover material every week, then perhaps selling the compost. The main issue I can't figure out is some sort of local, sustainable cover material for this climate. The best I can think so far is collecting yard wastes (perhaps leaves, perhaps otherwise) and grinding them up to a good consistency. But somehow it seems like it would be easier to sell people on the idea of sawdust than leaves.

How about using dirt as a cover material for the collection "toilet"? Would this impede the composting process? If so, could sufficient organic material be added when it is put on the pile to offset this?

Any thoughts are appreciated. And thanks, Joe, for providing a great inspirational and informative book!

Author: admin
Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 9:37 am
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Have you considered grinding up waste paper, such as newspapers, etc. to use as saleable cover material? These are high in carbon and seemingly in inexhaustible supply. Seems like a potential solution.

Joe

Author: Aaron W
Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 8:36 pm
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You're right. I have thought of that. But there's the issue of the inks, or anything else that might be in the paper ... I would need more hard data on that to make a good determination about whether or not it's a good idea. You mention in your book, *(page 81 in the 2nd ed.) about the toxic chemicals that are in regular, petroleum-based inks. This leads me to think that such compost would be better utilized for non-food crops.

Hey, here's an idea ... compost old paper products, and use the compost to fertilize soil to grow alternative paper crops such as kenaf ... hemp, unfortunately, still has hurdles before it's legal here in the USA. That way, the toxic chemicals that may be present in the inks on the paper have a better chance of breaking down than they would under conventional recycling. An analysis would need to be done to compare the energy inputs and benefits/drawbacks of such a system to current paper recycling, but it could very well be that composting to fertilize for growing new alternative fiber crops would be a better alternative than current recycling, especially if toxic inks are involved.

But thanks, Joe, that is something to consider. I'm going to start out for the moment doing a bucket system for myself and see how it pans out. I expect to first be trying to sell it off on my friends who live in apartments, etc, or who are willing to shit in a bucket but most likely unwilling to empty and clean the buckets regularly. And hopefully I can take it from there.

Author: Ted Hesser
Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 1:51 am
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I am new to this site. I composted human waste together with cow manure and grass and rice hulls in the rainforest of Colombia for 15 years, producing 75 tons of compost a year by hand, using it on several acres of vegetable garden. The veggies were used to help feed about 200 people. We built 10 outhouses using plastic boxes lined with banana leaves and put a box of rice hulls inside and taught the users to cover with them. That was from 1972 to 1986. In '89 we moved to Alaska. Recently I was in Colombia and saw the problem of the disposal of huge amounts of rice hulls and am looking for info on using sewage sludge to compost them on a large scale. Ted

Author: Herb_Wis
Friday, February 20, 2004 - 9:53 am
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It would seem to me that introducing "normal" people to the Humanure System would call for as little fuss and mess (and cleaning buckets) as possible.

There are (according to a previous link on this forum) waterproof (urine proof?) compostable bags. Add to that a bale of compressed peat from Walmart and you've got a nice tidy easy to use system without cleaning buckets or scrounging for bio-cover material.

Now I use a plastic bag (not bucket) system and it works great. (I compost the shit and trash the bag). I have not tried these so-called compostable bags, but if they are truly leakproof and biodegradeable they might be a breakthru component for the more fastidious (or lazy) types who still want to compost their crap.

Author: Anonymous
Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 3:29 am
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Cover Material:

the nearest sawmill is too far away and up too big a mountain for me to go get sawmill dust on my bike (I live carfree). I used garden centre peat moss for a while but then got anxious about the sustainability issues. then I went to the local pet emporium and got a big compressed bale of "bedding" wrapped in plastic. it is quite compressed. one bale lasts a good long time and I can easily carry 2 bales on my cargo bike. I got some pine and some (I think) aspen, and used the pine first because it was a bit finer in texture. it is shavings, like super thin corn flakes.

it is less messy than peat moss, which like moondust tended to get distributed all over the place -- clothes, hands, the floor -- when casting handfuls into the Earth Bucket. it also smells nice and seems to combat the Eau de Crap scent rather well. the bathroom smells of carpentry -- cut pine -- rather than of crap.

but I have 3 concerns. one is, will it refuse to break down in the pile. two, is it too coarse to make a good bedding for redworms in my vermi-toilet experiment? three, is it really just a byproduct of some wood processing activity or are we cutting down forests and shredding them into shavings *just* for pet bedding for wealthy animal lovers? I would feel very bad if this stuff was made from virgin trees and not just a side effect of planing lumber for construction etc.

how about coir? anyone using coir for a cover material? it is less messy than peat, smells nice, and comes in highly compressed bricks that reconstitute with water and are therefore fairly efficient to ship. I am an urban dweller and it's hard to find large quantities of raw carbon materials locally. I thought about harvesting seaweed and drying it out, but the salt would have to be removed and besides I think you need a license to harvest seaweed in any quantity.

I have been using coir as a peatmoss substitute when making potting soil. anyone happy with it as a "sawdust equivalent"?

de

Author: Herb_Wis
Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 10:32 am
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I used peat for a while too and liked it, but it was a bit dusty as you say. I dug my own peat but it was easier raking up sawdust. I saw my own lumber and have an adequate sawdust supply.

As to pine shavings. I believe they are a by-product that otherwise would be dumped as waste from planing mills. Near me is a small sawmill that I was visiting a couple years for a load of sawdust that was free for the hauling. At the same time the mill had its planer going and some outside firm was bagging the shavings as quickly as they came out of the mill. Those bags of shavings were definitely intended for resale.

Never tried shavings in the toilet though. I think aspen would break down a little faster than pine, although neither are rot resistent. In the forest dead aspen rots pretty fast.

Author: saths
Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 3:06 pm
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To Anonymous, Is coir made of coconut shells? Where do you live?

Author: Anonymous
Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 8:25 pm
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Dear Saths, yes as far as I know coir is made from the fibrous outer "fruit" layer of the coconut plus ground up shells. I've bought some from pinetree gardens (mail order) but would like to find a supplier closer to home (Central CA) and possibly cheaper. my guess is that it comes from Pacific Island nations, from coastal southern India, or similar locales.

Dear Herb, I am glad to think that pine and aspen shavings are a by product, thanks for the reassurance. Also good to know that despite its astringent sap, pine is not rot resistant.

Author: Herb_Wis
Friday, March 12, 2004 - 11:07 am
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I was wondering what coir was too. Thanks!

Tell the truth, I'll bet most planing mill shavings are NOT re-sold as the market can't be too large. So buying shavings will only help recycle them instead of them going to a landful somewhere. If they work well in the compost toilet, I would think they are a BETTER choice than bagged peat. Definitely so!

In a previous post I mentioned seeing an ad in the local paper for shavings to be used as livestock bedding. May be cheaper than what you're paying at the petshop if you can find a local source:

"Dry Aspen Wood Fiber Cattle Bedding, $2.40 per 45-lb bag, American Excelsior Company."

As to rot resistence: In my woods I have a good variety of tree species. Pine and aspen rot quickly. Oak and ash take longer to rot and old logs are sound for years after falling to the ground, sometimes even covered by moss. Birch rots fast too, except for the bark.

Author: Anonymous
Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 10:22 pm
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I'm trying the coir experiment since a few days ago. method: soak one brick of coir, fills about half a 5 gal bucket. add in handfuls to the working bucket just like sawdust. so far so good, more efficient than pine shavings. I think one brick will last about a week.

odor control may be a bit better than with shavings. am also planning to try experiment with "compost starter" (bacteria and fungus inoculation) applied in small doses with each deposit to get things started, accelerate the decomposition. will report in a couple of weeks if this is effective.

I added 1lb more redworms and 1lb euro nightcrawlers to the pile about a week ago. when I made a trench to dump new material in a few days later, the crawlers were still visible. so they have not migrated yet (fingers crossed!). am hoping to see some settling of contents if the worms are doing their work properly. but it takes a couple of weeks for them to adjust to new bin and start eating.

crapatista

Author: admin
Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 12:55 am
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Hi again,

I bought some night crawlers a few years ago for fishing, but didn't use them all, so I threw the left overs in the compost pile. Now, we have a healthy night-crawler population in our garden. It's amazing - go out to the garden and pull some weeds on a wet day and huge night crawlers start popping out all over the place. Sure makes for easy fish bait (we have our own fishing lake). Three cheers for the compost pile!

Joe Jenkins

Author: Anonymous
Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 1:12 am
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another report on euros and eisenia. about two weeks since introduction, and when I dug the weekly trench today I turned up red wrigglers and a couple of big, fat, happy euros, just a few inches down. so I think at least some of them are settling in.

damp coir is working well as a cover material for the bucket. I am using up the last of the pine shavings as a bottom layer for moisture absorbency, also to build up the level a bit now and then so the pile in the bucket is sorta flat rather than pyramid-shaped :-)

I prefer to keep the deposits from touching the bucket sides, you see -- OK, OK, so I'm still a bit fecophobic! -- and if the top of the pile is flat then it's controllable. so far my fussy techniques are working and my bucket is quite clean after the contents have been dumped on the main compost/worm pile.

odour at the main outdoor pile is minimal. fears I had about neighbours being suspicious or offended seem to have been unwarranted. I do put extra cover material on the very top after each "transfer" from bucket to worm bin. right now am using cocoa hull mulch, which has the amusing result of making the s**tpile smell like chocolate!

anyway -- so far, coir good, worms good, all s/b well until I get brave enough to take a pitchfork and aerate/mix the outdoor pile. then we'll find out what's really happening in there.

crapatista

Author: Herb_wis
Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 11:27 am
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Interesting experiments.

I may have to add some worm to my pile if I have any left over from fishing.

Author: Leslie
Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 12:35 pm
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I hope that Alfons from Brasil checks in again, his project sounded interesting! I wonder if he has considered that the compost they generate at the school could also be a product that they sell? Composted cow manure is big business up here in VT, and I'll bet there are plenty of rich folks in Rio whose landscapers need compost for their fancy lawns/plantings.

Author: Anonymous
Friday, May 07, 2004 - 1:39 pm
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I just bought the Humanure Handbook, and I'm very excited about using this kind of composting in the permaculture village I am planning with a few other people. My only concern is with providing the large amounts of cover material that seem to be required in a sustainable way. I have had a composting toilet before, the kind where we diverted the urine and used a 55 gallon drum. We used peat moss, but I have recently read about what valuable ecosystems peat bogs are, so I don't want to use it again. (Not to mention that shipping it from half-way around the world to where I now live in central Texas isn't a sustainable choice, either.) But as I consider my options for cover material, it seems that there is a down side to each one. Sawdust depends on cutting down trees, usually large scale clearcutting, which was hard to witness when I lived north of Seattle. Grass clippings require manicured lawns, also not sustainable. Shredded paper means trees were cut down to make the paper. Etc. Maybe when I live in a permaculture farm, there will be enough fallen leaves, food scraps, garden weeds, etc. to maintain the cover requirements. Even though I think all of wasteful society's waste should be reduced/reused/recycled, I don't want to depend on a wasteful society's waste. That wouldn't seem truly sustainable to me. Any suggestions?

Author: saths
Saturday, May 08, 2004 - 7:11 am
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To Anonymous,
I wondered if people could live on just fruit & nuts from trees in permaculture.It seems that meat,bread & vegetables are very time,energy & cost consuming to produce. The leaves would be close at hand to use. Also I've read that some grasses are 3" tall so they wouldn't need to be cut. Some lumber companies are selective when cutting trees. They leave smaller ones to grow.

Author: Herb
Saturday, May 08, 2004 - 11:36 am
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Sawdust and wood shavings from planing mills are by-products that normally are WASTED: either dumped in piles that take years to break down, land-filled, or burned.

By utilyzing these materials in a compost toilet you will be recycling them in a very valuable manner.

I wouldn't lose too much sleep over using sawdust as the timber industry isn't going away anytime soon. Actually trees are renewable -- although witnessing a clear-cut is gut-wrenching as I can attest.

Author: azralthea formerly Anonymous
Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 5:13 pm
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To Herb,
I agree that it is INFINITELY BETTER to compost sawdust than to dump it in a landfill! :)

To saths,
I am new to permaculture, having started studying it but not yet practicing it, but one of it's principles is that animals are an integral part of nature, and therefore would be an important part of a permaculture design, including composting their manure to enrich the soil for growing plants. I don't know what kind of energy you mean, but permaculture inherently doesn't use non-renewal resources. As far as time goes, the idea is that I would be growing all my own food from permaculture. I couldn't do it with a "day job"; it is meant to replace my day job, and another principle of the design is for it to require as little work to maintain as possible. For costs, yes it costs money to get started (buy the land, seeds, saplings, animals, etc.), but a good design will be self-sustaining, not needing to buy more stuff every year. There is tons of info on permaculture on the internet, if you are interested. I am not an expert, and my vision of it is probably idealized since I have just started learning about it.

Author: Anonymous
Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 8:10 am
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Hello,

I have done my best to search for info through these posts and in the Handbook, but can't seem to find what I am looking for. We are a family of 6 (4 kids newborn to 8yrs. & 2 adults). We have built the first of our triple chamber outdoor compost bin. We are using a sawdust toilet, sawdust from a local sawmill & straw for an outdoor cover material. We located our bins under small trees approx. 20 feet from our house. They will not be in shade in the winter (We live in Ontario Canada). This location is also approx. 100 feet or more from our 15' well, which we onl;y plan to use for irrigation (we will use a rooftop rain catchment system).

Do compost bins of this sort need full sun?? Is this location too close to our dwelling?? We want to move them if this is not an ideal location. This is the location in our permaculture design, but we wanted to check ith someone with practical knowledge. Sorry if there's spelling errors, I, typing while nursing:-)

Thanks, J

Author: Earthmother
Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 8:22 am
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Hello,

My husband and I recently completed the 1.5 yr. Elfin Permaculture course. We received our certifications. We are the family of 6 in the anonymous post above. We are in the beginning stages of implementing our permaculture design and have begun using our sawdust toilet system. If we can be a resource to anyone, please feel free to contact us.

email ~ earthmother@sympatico.ca
web ~ www3.sympatico.ca/earthmother

Namaste, Earthmother

Author: Newguy
Monday, September 13, 2004 - 9:14 am
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Greetings,

I was wondering if anyone has any experience with biodegradable plastic pail liners. I found these: Kitchen
Bio-Bag 30 liter: 20.1"W x 22.4"L - www.dirtworks.net/Bio-Bag.html - and must admit I am very curious about their use for the application referenced herein. They would certainly make this entire process more attractive to me, if they are in fact, what they proport to be. Any feedback on these, or any other liners anyone has found to work would be appreciated.

Author: oliveoil
Saturday, January 29, 2005 - 4:15 pm
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Could dirt be used as a cover material?
Has anyone tried this?
I mean it works for cats LOL. But really would it cause problems in the compost pile?
I have no saw mills any where near me, and except for a lot of pine needles (which i've read are useless) I'm fresh out of ideas for cover stuff.

Author: admin
Sunday, January 30, 2005 - 1:46 pm
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Pine needles will compost. Dirt isn't very good because it's not very biologically active - it doesn't provide much food for the microorganisms. Dirt is basically the end product of compost, not a feedstock. It won't hurt to add a little dirt to the compost pile, but there's really not much reason to do so.

Author: south_nj
Monday, February 28, 2005 - 10:37 am
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I have used a fine mulch that comes in bags for landscaping that seems to quite like dirt. it works for a toilet cover material but is fairly heavy... I would like to use rice hulls or sawdust but don't seem to find any source for them...

Author: Joe Jenkins
Monday, February 28, 2005 - 12:50 pm
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I noticed that you can buy large bags of fine wood shavings at farm and garden stores (Agway, for example). They're sold for bedding under rabbits and other small animals. This material may be useful as a toilet cover material and may mix well with the fine mulch as long as it does not have any chemicals added to it.

Also, a friend of mine got feed sacks and filled them with old leaf mould from the local borough. They collect leaves every fall and pile them near the city sewage plant and people come and get them for mulch. They worked perfect in her toilet.

Author: south_nj
Monday, February 28, 2005 - 2:24 pm
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added note: to the people that use rice hulls... how do you buy it? is it bagged? and where do you buy it??

Author: south_nj
Monday, February 28, 2005 - 5:44 pm
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I have tried pet bedding and because it is kiln dried it is not useful as a covering material because of the "bio filter" not there to prevent odor, however, it can be used for covering the compost pile as it does seem to cover and prevent smells. the benefit is its lighter than hay and can be ported in a car (I don't own a truck) without having a "hay" smell and leftover bits of hay in the back seat... the drawback is that it is more expensive than hay...

I have also tried a mixture but that doesn't really seem to work either as a biofilter, that may because I need to work out a ratio that would work, unfortunately, my fiancee, (who is not really thrilled by my 'humanure' activities) is not going allow for much experimentation... I was thinking about trying potting soil / peat moss that you can buy from farm and garden type of places because that would be lighter and therefore easier to use with a scoop. any thoughts?

Author: Stephen
Tuesday, March 01, 2005 - 10:45 am
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I have successfully used very dry sawdust, not kiln dryed but from wood that sat in a barn for about one hundred years or so. I had no oder problems.
As with peat, I would only use it in a pinch. It costs more and doesn't seem to work as well.

Author: south_nj
Wednesday, March 02, 2005 - 5:21 pm
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I would probably agree that you can use even very dry sawdust because I believe that there is some mold on it waiting to be reactivated through moisture. I only have access to the kiln dried stuff and I think the kiln drying "cooks" off the normal mold that would be on natural sawdust. I might buy some of the kiln dried stuff and find an outside place for it to "cure" before use. I will let you guys know how that works...

Author: south_nj
Thursday, March 10, 2005 - 9:02 am
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ok, I haven't tried letting the kiln-dried sawdust cure before using it as a cover material.
However, I did use some fine pine bedding that you can get in pet shops and mix it with the mulch/dirt... it does extend the mulch and does make it easier to work with and as a cover material does seem to work in keeping the deposits odor free... there is some slight smell of pine when you lift the lid up but other than that nothing... so because, im happy with that I probably wont worry about the "curing" of the sawdust before use...

Author: south_nj
Thursday, March 10, 2005 - 9:19 am
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one problem I have is dealing with the packaging material that things come in... I have started to re-examine what I throw away and what it mostly is deals with the packaging that products come in that I use... plastic blister packs, plastic type of bagging/wrapping material. I am disturbed that there aren't better choices for some of this and I don't believe that the plastic used in blister packs is recyclable... obviously I have changed how I buy certain products like food items that use a cardboard material as the packaging or soda that is in aluminum cans that can be recycled... assuming that I didn't have a landfill in my township, I know I wouldn't want to have to landfill it in my yard... so how do we make businesses accountable for dealing with the waste they create with their products?

Author: admin
Thursday, March 10, 2005 - 11:17 am
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Good question. You're doing the right thing - don't buy the products with excessive or unrecyclable packaging.

Author: anonymous
Thursday, March 10, 2005 - 12:04 pm
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Something I think is interesting... because businesses pack things the way they do... you pay for the product and then you have to pay taxes (which in my township is becoming more expensive...) in order to dispose of the package itself... I wonder if things wouldnt' change very quickly if businesses had to accept the leftover package material at a collection site at the store where you bought it... and it would also really show the true cost of an item (because the business would probably try to pass the cost of recycling/disposing of the package onto the consumer...)

Author: admin
Monday, March 14, 2005 - 1:31 pm
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Of course, that makes perfect sense, which is probably why it's not being done.

Author: Jonathan Walther
Saturday, May 28, 2005 - 6:26 pm
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I've been using the sawdust toilet for 2 weeks now, and am having a slight odor problem. The odor of crap isn't strong, but I do notice it. I am using "Premium Softwood Shavings" from Petcetera, a big chain of pet stores. Maybe the shavings are too big, or whatever, but the odor isn't being completely blocked, and there is very little pine smell when I open the lid. The shavings are extremely dry, and I am putting four or five big handfuls of these wood shavings on every time I use the bucket.

Since these aren't working, I've found a local cedar mill and will be trying some of their sawdust shortly.

Not only am I using the sawdust toilet because I like the environment and want to do the right thing, but because the Torah commands it. (Deuteronomy 23:13)

I notice someone else on this board recently had problems with pet store wood shavings, or rabbit bedding. Were you able to solve your problem by moistening the shavings?

I did notice as I pissed into the bucket at night, the next morning the cover shavings would be soaked through, as if the liquid had evenly distributed itself throughout the sawdust. Anyone else noticed this?

Author: Jonathan Walther
Saturday, May 28, 2005 - 6:29 pm
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The label on the bag of wood shavings I'm using has the following information:

Kiln Dried
Pine and Spruce
Screened

Norstar Industries
12226 142 St
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Zip: T5L 2G9
Phone: (780) 414-6085

Author: admin
Sunday, May 29, 2005 - 1:00 pm
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Wood shavings are not a recommended cover material for the reasons you are experiencing - they do not mask odor adequately (you're right - they are too big). They do not compost very well either. I think you will find that the cedar sawdust masks the odor completely if it's sawdust from logs and not from kiln-dried boards. I don't know how it will compost, but it's worth a try.

Joe Jenkins.

Author: jjenkins
Monday, November 21, 2005 - 10:33 pm
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I live in southern Arizona where neither sawdust nor leaves are readily available. Has anyone living in an arid environment such as this found a suitable, readily available cover for their toilets? If I can figure out a way to make tumbleweeds into tumbledust I'd have it made.

Author: Anonymous
Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 12:16 am
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perhaps a really big chipper/shredder would work on tumbleweeds? Then you have to contain the bits so they don't blow away too.

I think in this discussion I saw someone mention wanting a way to collect and shred leaves. I found over the summer that the electric blower/vac with a bag worked well to suck up leaves and break them up a bit more. It was kinda fun too. I recomend wearing a dust mask though.

I keep seeing posts about how people arn't using this or that because they heard it wouldn't compost well. However, if you can get lots of it easily for free, try it anyway and decide for yourself. Certain woods may not be recomended because they are rot resistant but many people use them just fine. Kiln dried stuff isn't as good as raw but if it is free and easy to get judge for yourself how well it work. As for pet bedding, sounds like the kiln dried stuff that you pay for isn't worth it.

I've heard mixed things about rice hulls. Some seem to like them, others not. Again, if you can get em for free.

Pine needles. So far no answers to if they work well for cover in the bucket or even on the pile. As far as composting and soil acidity, I suppose it depends on your situation.

Paper/cardboard and inks. You can call your local newspaper and ask about their ink. I think most newspapers in the US have switched to non toxic ink at least for the black and white stuff. As for glossy stuff other junk mail, it is hard to say. Perhaps it depends on what you are planning on growing with your compost.

Yard waste, grass clippings, and leaves in much of the country would be an easy one (at least in places where they arn't already composting it). Great cover material. There are some places where you can even get free compost material from the county. I expect it is just partly composted wood chips and yard waste to be used as mulch but it could make a fablious cover material.

Peat the compressed bales can be dusty and there are some concerns about the harvest but I in a pinch you can find it in most garden centers.

There was mention of coffee grounds and hops. Have these actually been tried as cover materials and if so, what was the outcome? I know they are both great to add to compost.

Anyone know much about wheetgrass? I know some industrys are making it into an alternative to particle board. I got the impression it is just a byproduct of wheet harvesting. If someone is in that part of the country perhaps that would be an easily obtainable cover material.

I wonder if you could get a landfill to pay you to take stuff out? Not likely but I wonder if you might be able to get cover material through the local landfill.

Author: Anonymous
Thursday, January 12, 2006 - 5:47 pm
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I'm not finding the post about the person composting indoors. I really wanted to re-read that one.

I am getting ready to start composting humanure. I live in an appartment with only a small patio space outdoors. We got a 45 gallon garbage bin and drilled 1/2" holes about 12" apart all over it. Our patio is concrete but on the ground floor so the dirt is right next to it. I notice that worms have no problem getting into large flower pots sitting on the concrete.

Easy access to cover material and a place to store it are the biggest challenges. I have been sweeping up leaves and pine needles as much as I can. I have a few large ferns that are being trimmed a bit to contribute to the cause. Seeing as we won't be growing food with this first experiment of composting, any and all shreddible paper and junk mail will be supplementing the cover material. I did find a small sawmill that said I could come a shovel up some sawdust. I don't expect to do this often though as it is an hour's drive away. I also don't have a truck so won't be able to collect much.

The county allows residents to get compost from their waste facilities. I was concidering this as an alternate substance for cover material.

The appartment does not have any extra space in the bathroom so the humanure toilet will probably have to go in a closit or utility room.

Once our compost bin is full we will be taking up to some property I have. We will dump it there and add more cover material over it and let it cure for a year. Then we will likely spread it out around the property so that when we can finally build and move there the soil will be a little better.

Author: Anonymous
Monday, January 16, 2006 - 6:52 pm
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We seem to fill buckets very fast. There are two of us. I guess we pee too much. The first bucket we used leaves and shredded paper for cover, very bulky so I guess that is why the bucket filled in a day. The next bucket lasted almost two days as we were able to get sawdust but it still filled quickly, perhaps because we tossed kitchen scraps into the bucket instead of taking them directly to the compost bin.

Author: Sinfante
Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - 10:18 am
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I think at first most of us tend to use a little too much cover material because we are concerned about odor. I found that my first several buckets filled faster than I had thought they would, but then I began to refine my cover technique and the buckets would last longer. I think it also depends on the size of your buckets, some are actually 7 gallons not 5, so would hold more. Good Luck!

Author: James K
Monday, January 30, 2006 - 6:42 pm
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My wife and I started using our brand new sawdust toilet in October. It filled up fast. We started using peat for cover material, but it did not smell good, then we tried crunched up leaves, and that didn't smell good either.

Through experimentation here is what we are doing now...

After emptying and washing the bucket, I put about 5 cm of leaves in the bottom of the bucket, then when placed in the toilet, we use shredded junk mail to cover urine and sawdust to cover solids. This seems to work best. And when next we empty the bucket, the leaves (and the bacteria on them) have turned to urine/paper/sawdust/solid mix brown and already started to composting. The leaves on the bottom also make cleanup after dumping very easy. This method uses up very little sawdust, which we have to buy. I'm trying to use as much free stuff as I can.


The best part, my wife informs me, is that since going to our 2 sawdust toilets, we have more than halved our water bill! Not contaminating drinking water is wonderful, eh? (Now if I could just get my daughter to take shorter showers.... )

Author: admin
Monday, January 30, 2006 - 9:18 pm
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I also find that using leaves in the bottom of the bucket does make it easier to clean it.

Author: John Heckham
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 10:35 am
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Joe,

How does that sawdust powder from sanders work? The local cabinet shop had lots of it, but it is fine as hell and wafts on the slightest draft!

Author: Luann Taliaferro
Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - 11:56 am
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I love my sawdust toilet, we started this in Oct '05...So cool. Where can I get those compostable bags to line my Buckets?Will any
Biodegradable one's work? It's Bigtime Winter here in New Hampshire, so my pile hasn't had a chance to cook and break down, come spring I'm looking forward to watching that pile Reduce down to 20 percent....

Author: admin
Thursday, February 02, 2006 - 12:43 am
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I'm using some sanding powder now, as a matter of fact. Not a lot, however. I'm sure it will compost, but how much to use is worthy of experimentation.

Joe

Author: Bill Wilson
Saturday, February 18, 2006 - 5:10 pm
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We use a wood chipper to grind up woody material for the market garden compost pile. This year I had a bad case of "dog fennel" along the raised beds of the garden area. I dug those up this winter and ran them thru the chipper with the intent to compost them with chicken litter we have trucked in. I ran out of pine sawdust and decided to try this material in the humanure bucket. And the result are better than any wood I've used. The material absorbs the urine and covers the crap well. Best thing is, down here in the deep South, makes you feel like your shittin' in high cotton......

Author: Anonymous
Sunday, February 19, 2006 - 9:31 am
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Groan!

Author: catbox
Wednesday, May 03, 2006 - 10:37 pm
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I have seen several references to "ground newspaper" in the Humanure book and these postings. What is ground newspaper? Can I grind it at home? How do you grind it? In a blender? Can you grind it by hand or foot power instead of using a motor?
thank you.

Author: Joe
Tuesday, May 09, 2006 - 4:19 am
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It's a theoretical cover material. Paper is ground for insulation, so it makes sense that it could also be ground for cover material. I have not seen it yet, however.

Author: TCLynx
Tuesday, May 09, 2006 - 3:25 pm
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Shredded newspaper would work. I have never seen a human powered paper shredder but I'm sure it could be done.
I do know a few dogs who are wonderful for shredding paper and cardboard. Don't know how to get them to do it to the stuff you actually want shredded though.

Author: vigdis
Monday, May 15, 2006 - 6:38 am
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I would guess "a human powered paper shredder" is what I do with my hands or scissors... tear them up real small!

Author: Cara Lin Bridgman
Monday, May 15, 2006 - 10:58 am
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'Human powered paper shredders' do exist. They look like regular paper shredders but have a crank on one side. I've noticed the width of the strips is finer than that of electric paper shredders. They only accept one piece of paper at a time. Kids love to shred paper with them -- making these shredders doubly useful as 'human powered baby sitters.'

I'm not sure where you can get them. Here in Taiwan, I occasionally find them at Watson's, a beauty supply place, for the equivalent of 3-10 dollars.

Author: catbox
Monday, May 15, 2006 - 4:08 pm
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hi everybody. I appreciate the messages re paper shredders. I had been under the impression that there was a substance out there called GROUND newspaper, and that GROUND newspaper would be a good cover material for the bucket. But alas, Mr. Jenkins says that ground newspaper is a theoretical cover material.

I actually can SHRED newspaper all by myself, when my mommy helps me.

Wouldn't shredded newspaper make the bucket awfully heavy?

Author: TCLynx
Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - 4:40 pm
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Probably about the same as sawdust or ground newspaper for the weight I would guess. They are all about the same substance just in slightly different forms.

Just idle curiosity but, I wonder if you could grind newspaper in a hand crank meat grinder? I wonder if the properties would be much different than the shredded paper? It may not be worth the trouble but might be almost as much fun for the kids (if you can trust them to keep their fingers attached to their hands.)

Author: TCLynx
Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - 4:47 pm
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Probably about the same as sawdust or ground newspaper for the weight I would guess. They are all about the same substance just in slightly different forms.

Just idle curiosity but, I wonder if you could grind newspaper in a hand crank meat grinder? I wonder if the properties would be much different than the shredded paper? It may not be worth the trouble but might be almost as much fun for the kids (if you can trust them to keep their fingers attached to their hands.)

Author: S. Infante
Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - 5:28 pm
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What about a cross-cut shredder? I guess that is not hand powered, but you could rig up a bicycle generator to power a battery, that is in a perfect world (lol). I keep wanting to set up such a generator for my kiddos to power their TV/computer time, just don't have time to do it yet.

Author: Anonymous
Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - 11:34 pm
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That would be one way to ration TV and computer time, you can only use it if you charge it.

Author: Roman
Monday, May 29, 2006 - 2:25 am
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Theme: palletized saw dust
Because of the expansion of processing saw dust volume investors and suppliers of the equipment (fuel briquetting / palletizing machines) are welcomed for cooperation on mutually beneficial terms! The resource of saw dust is 1 million tons in Zhitomir Region, Ukraine.
The preliminary account showed that the volume of output lets 200-300 tons monthly. We are ready to review any proposal!

Owner: Roman: Kruchko + 380501641771
Contact person: Manager-interpreter Artem +380502423838
E-mail: kruchko.roman@mail.ru

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