Thinking about human waste short term and long term

July 14, 2015

totalsurvivalistblog commented “As to sanitation. That is probably a week(sic) point in our current situation. Still we have enough space to run slit trenches and chamber pots for a really long time. This plan needs some work.”

That got me thinking about the concept of an above ground composting toilet as a solution.  Instead of building an above ground composting toilet/outhouse over sealed bricks or concrete base, couldn’t a person use water tight barrels to dump the chamber pots, 5 gallon buckets and or porta-potty’s that many of us plan on using short term?

My short term sanitation plan now:

  • Five gallon buckets/camp porta-potty to hold daily waste, I have straw, sawdust/wood chips and wood ash to cover waste as the bucket is used.  Note to self, I need to buy a toilet brush for cleaning out/sanitizing the buckets after they are dumped!   Waste is stored in a construction grade trash bag when full and hope the trash guys will haul it away before it becomes a problem.  Hope/trust in the government is not a very good strategy for a prepper.
  • The outdoor above ground composting toilet/outhouse has most of the work done in the chambers and the outhouse portion is based on the building materials of a 3rd world village, but we can buy used 15- 55 gallon barrels or 30 gallon trash cans for $50.00 or less.
  • For example you have a 30 gallon trash barrel placed on concrete. You put a 3-6 inch layer of straw in the bottom of the barrel. Add a screened vent for gasses to the trash can lid, then dump your potty bucket daily into the barrel.  Add the date when the barrel is full and use it for non-edible plant beds(lawn grass, roses or shrubs) after the 9 to 12 months of it breaking down. Switch to a new barrel and repeat the process!

Pros and cons to this idea:

  • I have no real idea how much poo a person will generate daily. Nor how quickly human poo will become a safe fertilizer though 9-24 months seems to be the general answer. Overall most Humanure info seems to say composting at least 12 months is a safe minimum of time to kill all pathogens.
  • While you don’t need to dig for a septic tank or out house you will be handling human waste so there is a bit of danger for disease to you personally.
  • A good thing is you will not contaminate anyone’s ground water. Nor dumping waste down your local storm drain and contaminating  drinking water gathered down stream.
  • This composting idea probably won’t work for most apartment dwellers and if you have a septic tank in a rural area you won’t need this as a sanitation solution. But for homeowners in a city or suburbia tied into a sewer system that stops working in a disaster this concept could offer a workable solution to disposing human waste safely.

I’m sure homesteaders and others that have bought a composting toilet or compost humanure that have much more “real world” knowledge that I have and can troubleshoot my ideas.  Please, troubleshoot me, as all I know is theory and not the practical application of my ideas.  I would ask that you take into consideration that most of us city and suburban preppers are limited by how much land we have to use, zoning laws and how much we can afford to spend. I can’t speak for all, but telling me to move to the country is not helpful! If I could afford to move to the country I would have done it 5 years ago!