Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:40 am Posts: 11 Location: Crandall,TEXAS
Does anyone have experience composting humanure? I have read "The Humanure Handbook" by Joseph Jenkins, and have been doing this type of composting for about five months. It is explained in the book, which can be downloaded for free. This is not an outhouse, or a septic system. It is composting human waste in a safe, effective way. When done, the compost can be used like any other compost. The main benefit, besides the compost, is the water saved, and keeping the waste out of a sewage or septic system. If you know how to compost, you can do this.
I've heard about these, I have friends in West Texas who use a composting toilet. The Texas State Parks have installed them in places like Enchanted Rock where they don't have the ability to set up a water flush system in the park.
Other countries are way ahead of us on this, I think. Japan comes to mind, but I don't have any citations to offer you at the moment. Unfortunately, there is an "ick factor," a species bias (somehow human poo is more toxic than animal) and I suppose if there are drugs in the system there may be some residual chemical trace, as is found in waste water plants.
It bears consideration, however. And you might also want to consider the toilet paper end of things as well.
I have been composting humanure for several years and the compost is excellent. the concerns about 'contaminated' compost is generally overblown. the biggest problems in composting human excrement is with municipal sewage treatment plants composting "biosolids" and that is because of the pollution that people throw down the toilet. like paint, chemicals, drugs, etc, etc. with a composting toilet, where biomass is used to cover each 'deposit' there is no order, flies, etc. since there is higher control over what is in the compost, i.e., no chemicals, no drugs, etc, then the compost is much 'cleaner'. the amount of residual chemicals/drugs found in the excrement and urine are neutralized, for all practical purposes, when the compost is properly made. given either enough time or enough turnings and temperature, the compost will be completely 'safe' for gardening.
there are many advocates of "urine separating" toilets, but, except for rare circumstances such as on a sailboat, etc, i do not understand the motivation. it has repeatedly been proven that compost made with BOTH urine and excrement generates better results in the plants that compost made of either one, alone, or the use of urine alone. so, given that the results are better and the use of a composting toilet with BOTH urine and excrement and biomass cover material is far, far more simple to use than urine separating toilets, why the latter get more press than the former is beyond me. unless it is that the latter are more expensive and there is a 'vested interest' in the sales of these more expensive models than the more simple and more effective toilets, along the lines of the toilets described in the book Humanure.
i am not sure that i understand what is being referred to with the "toilet paper" comment above, but, i offer the following: in several years of composting with a biomass composting toilet, similar to those described in the Humanure Handbook i have never had any problems with the toilet paper being well composted. also, using toilet paper made from 100% recycled paper strikes me as a "double win-win". the paper is being recycled and then, being turned into "plant food"
The toilet paper remark was made because modern US producers use "virgin" wood fibre instead of recycled wood fibre to make the paper that isn't going to get used again. Better to use recycled at the end of its useful life.
Have been humanure composting at home in Wisconsin since last summer. But have been doing urine-diverting toilets in Haiti since 2007. We use the urine as fertilizer right away, allowing people to realize some benefits right away. also then we don't have to handle "un-treated" waste - we wait until solides have completely dried, which can take up to 2 years!! However, I am recently convinced that thermophilic composting may kill pathogens faster and more effectively.
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