Composting Toilets

If you have food and the water supply is interrupted, you will need a sawdust or composting toilet.  You do not want to be burdened by a walk to the well or to the nearest creek or pond to get water for flushing a conventional toilet when water is no longer pumped into your home.

Cover deposits with peat moss or sawdust to reduce or eliminate odor.

The quick and easy model:

Improvise, adapt, overcome.

Add a black plastic trash can liner. Cover deposits with peat moss.
Remove trash bag and put it next to the garden in direct sunlight.
Poke a few holes in the bag and let it compost.


The Simple, Low Cost Humanure Sawdust Toilet:

The “$25 (or less) Hinged-Top Humanure Toilet” used all over the world.   This system has three necessary components:  the sawdust toilet, cover material (peat moss, sawdust, etc.) and the compost bins.   Two compost bins are needed because composted waste must sit for at least one year without fresh manure being added before it is safe to use on your garden.

If the compost pile is too small to get hot then wait two years.  The entire award winning Humanure Handbook is available as free download online. Hard copies can also be purchased in several languages.   No one should be without an inexpensive simple composting Sawdust toilet during periods when water is scarce or inconvenient to haul.

Use sawdust for cover material, not wood chips.  Sawdust and peat moss are most effective for minimum odor.  Sawmill sawdust is more effective for odor prevention than kiln-dried sawdust.

Compost temperature is important.

“Complete pathogen destruction is guaranteed by arriving at a temperature of 143 degrees F for one hour, 122 degrees F for one day, 114.8 degrees F for one week or 109.4 degrees F for one month.  It appears that no excreted pathogen can survive a temperature of 149 degrees F for more than a few minutes.”  (reference http://humanurehandbook.com/downloads/Chapter_7.pdf)

One user of a sawdust toilet reported that he had found a way to bypass the need to construct and maintain the composting bin recommended by Jenkins.  Instead, black trash bags intended for use in a trash compactor (much tougher than garbage bags) were used as a bucket liner.  When full, the black bags were removed and put in a sunny spot next to the garden.  After an unspecified length of time the contents were completely decomposed and the finished product was without odor.  Once the compost had cooked the trash compactor bags could be emptied in the garden and recycled as a fresh liner in the collection container.

“Despite all the books on manure and how to use it, human manure composting is not covered elsewhere, making THE HUMANURE HANDBOOK: A GUIDE TO COMPOSTING HUMAN MANURE a fine reference for any who would learn these basics. Now in its 3rd edition, THE HUMANURE HANDBOOK covers all the basics of human waste management, from septic systems to commercial composting toilets, sewers, and more. A history of various composting methods, science, and problems is accompanied by a healthy dose of humor plus a solid foundation of science into pathogens, pros and cons of competing systems, and more. If you’re an avid composter, there’s nothing like this on the market.” Midwest Book Review







Other Toilets, More Options:

Many styles of composting toilets are available from SunMar.  Two of us used the Excell NE ($1495, Apr 2009) full time for several months with great success. There was very little odor and no overflow.  If odor or overflow become a problem, use more peat moss. Cover all deposits with peat moss (works best), sawdust or other material.

Sawdust is a much better choice than wood chips when choosing cover material to minimize odor.




  • Article and videos about composting toilets from Off-Grid.
  • Sun-Mar Composting Toilets Many models to choose from.  The self contained Excel NE (non-electric) sells for $1495.   The Sun-Mar Excel (model with electric heater) toilet I have was modifed to use a 4 inch diameter stack instead of the smaller stack used with the electric version.  The modification was made to unburden the solar electric system.
  • Original and updated system from Omick.net

Excel-NE-White Humanure_01


Composting Toilets for Marine, RV, Cabins or Trucks


Black Pine Sports Turbo Toilet, $80




Sometimes there is beauty and art in simplicity.
Cover deposits with peat moss or sawdust.