The bucket we poop in (Composting 101)

Hey folks. I thought I would do a little write up on our “composting toilet” and sum up the concept for any newbies out there.

Composting toilets are basic little units. You can buy fancy ones like these:

Or you can make your own like this:


Or you can rough it like this:

luggable loo

We made ours like this:


It’s all the same idea.

A bucket, container, bin, (whatever) collects your waste and then you compost it. Not a complicated process at all. After you “do your business” the fecal matter is covered with some sort of organic material. Cover materials include corn husks, rice hulls, shredded junk mail, leaves, and peat moss. We use a mixture of sawdust and scrap coffee and tea grounds. The cover materials insure that there is no smell and they aid in the composting process.

Most people choose to separate waste from urine, though the humanmanure handbook discourages it. Urine is heavy and requires a lot of sawdust so we choose to run it outside and directly into our compost bin. Almost all commercial models are designed to separate.

Fancier commercial designs may include a fan to dry out the waste, shrinking it, so the unit needs to be emptied less often. There are also units with cranks in place so you can rotate the pile. Some models require the use of enzymes and deposit fresh soil out of the bottom.

We purchased the Separett Privy 500 toilet setup which diverts the urine from the feces by catching it in the front and funneling it away. I’m going to outline our design so that potential toilet DIYers don’t stumble upon the same problem we did.

The separett toilet seat came with the design outline seen here. If you buy the seat, privykitDO NOT use the minimum requirements. This is our fix and another one can be seen here. The minimum requirements will make you a cute little unit, but you will not be able to remove the bucket when the time comes… Unfortunately, it is not as easy to “disconnect the pipe” as the website promises. For us, it was nearly impossible. I literally shredded the end of the hose attempting to pull it apart. Our bathroom is quite small and does not permit us the space to remove the bucket through the side of the toilet. We had to find another solution.

First, we sawed off the threading on the hose connector so that the hose could easily pop in and out of place. I found an industrial clamp that fit perfectly around the pipe and the hose. I built a hinged door in the front so we could access the urine clamp. I also added hinges to the top so that once the bucket is full, and the clamp is disconnected, we can simply swing up the top and remove the bucket.

Removeable lid Urine flap Rubber stopper

The back draft solution.

With a gentle breeze, the smell of urine and cold air (REALLY COLD AIR)  was drafting into our bathroom. With advice from this guide , I made some modifications and created a “trap”. The trap is a section cut from a rubber exercise band with a small hole in the center. It provides enough room for the urine to pass through while preventing a back draft.

Finally, we purchased a standard toilet seat to replace the Styrofoam one that came with our separett. We sawed off the screws so that they could be inserted into the wood holes that we drilled. This way the seat can be removed whenever we need to flip the top up to access the bucket.

And voila! We now have ourselves a composting toilet AKA a poop bucket. We’ve been using it since we moved into our home and couldn’t be happier. Our original plan to eventually replace it with a “better model” has been foiled. This is all we need.

What has been your experience with composting toilets? Comment below or post to our facebook page

Until next time,

-The Copper House.

3 thoughts on “The bucket we poop in (Composting 101)

  1. jwmerrett Reply

    Your pain is my gain! 🙂 Thanks for the advice on what to do and not to do. We’ve been using a simple composting toilet bucket for the past couple of years. We keep procrastinating about building a more permanent station but as this is the last remaining item on our To Do list for the bathroom, it’s time is coming. I’ll let you know how our build goes. I think you’ve saved us lots of trial and error time. ~ Jay

    1. livingtinycanada Reply

      That’s good to hear. Please learn from our “crappy” mistakes. Let us know how it goes. 🙂

  2. Jane on Whidbey Reply

    I love this! I’ve been using the antique commode for solids, and a yogurt container for peeing while leaning against the tub so that I am postponing purchasing the Separett. It’s on the list after a water filter and steps to my French doors.
    I saw another person’s set-up, and she took the bumpers off the seat so it could lie flush on the top, reducing air flow. The flap is brilliant, though. lol

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