Humanure Toilets

About Human Waste:

Human waste (affectionately known as ‘humanure’) is a resource that is overlooked. Our feces and urine combined contain enough nutrients to grow all the food we need to survive. Combining human waste with sawdust, kitchen scraps, weeds and prunings in a compost bin can generate enough heat to destroy human pathogens and compost the material, turning it into something new – rich organic fertilizer.

Large: Humanure Handbook: Humanure Waste Cycle: Intact & Broken

I personally use a Bokashi Bucket Humanure Toilet system, for my bodily waste process materials. Bokashi is a fermenting process used in Japan to ferment all organic waste. I collect and ferment my personal ‘manure’ waste, along with all other organic waste generated from our home, including the dog’s manure, for two weeks in the bokashi mixture. I then mix it into my compost pile.


Reasons to Use Humanure Toilets:

Each time you flush your toilet, a huge amount of nutrients is lost, along with fresh drinking water, only to become pollution for precious natural waterways. You can avoid all of this by managing an effective human waste composting operation, and the end product is a rich and safe fertilizer for the plants in your garden.


About Human Pathogens:

As humans have existed for thousands of years, certain bacteria, viruses, protozoa and worms have developed alongside us, tailored to suit conditions inside our bodies, where they breed and lay eggs, and make us horribly sick.

It’s interesting to note that they can only get from one person to another through contact with human waste. This means that for thousands of years we have been mismanaging our waste, enough for these human pathogens to develop and survive.

Our current answer to the problem of human pathogens is to flush our waste, along with crystal clean drinking water, into a sewer system, where it mixes with anything and everything that is poured down drains and washed off roads, to a waste treatment facility, where toxic chemicals are mixed with the polluted water to kill off pathogens, and the finished product is pumped into rivers and oceans for aquatic creatures to deal with!

A better answer is for our waste to be collected from our homes and taken to a large-scale composting facility, where the natural activity of bacteria and fungi compost the material, destroying pathogens and creating rich fertilizer. Until such an operation is in place, managing your own human waste composting operation is the most sensible and responsible option, and it’s just as effective.


How to Make a Humanure Toilet (Composting Toilet):

A humanure toilet is a receptacle designed only to collect human waste in buckets for composting later. Human waste is not composted in the buckets, only collected and stored. There are many examples of unique designs for humanure toilets, and one can usually be made using scrap materials you already have. The size of your buckets will determine the dimensions of your toilet. It’s important that your buckets are all the same size, and preferably a popular size so you can easily get more if you need to.

How to Construct a Humanure Toilet

A simple box can be constructed, large enough to accommodate one of your buckets, with a hinged lid that your toilet seat can be fixed to.

A hole must be cut in the lid which matches the diameter of the top rim of your buckets, so that the rim can fit inside the hole nicely.

The height of the toilet should be such that on level ground, your bucket will stick up through the hole in the lid.

The toilet seat should be fitted so that it sits nicely over the hole. There should be no opportunity for urine to get between the bucket and the toilet and escape the system.


How to Use a Humanure Toilet (Composting Toilet):

A humanure toilet is used in the same way as a regular toilet – all human waste and toilet paper is collected in the bucket. However, instead of flushing when you finish, a scoop of sawdust is thrown in to cover the waste. It’s a simple habit to get into, and odorless if you use a correct amount of sawdust.

The bokashi sawdust has two functions. It covers the waste, blocking odors, it brings to the mix a high carbon component and the bokashi microorganisms who feed on and ferment the urine, feces and toilet paper.

When a bucket is almost full, the lid of the humanure toilet is lifted, the lid of the bucket is secured, and the bucket is replaced with an empty one.  The bokashi humanure is allowed to ferment for two weeks in the shade. Bokashi humanure must be composted and allowed to cure for a year in a compost heap, but organic food which has been bokashi fermented can be dug into the garden, below 10cm of soil and veggies grown on top.