Before I get into the actual update, a little background might be in order. Hopefully, this will bring those of you who haven't read my original post on the subject up to speed, while refreshing the memory of those who, like most of us, have plenty of other things to think of and may not fully remember.
The recently past summer was a hot, dry one here in the central U.S., including the part of Oklahoma where I live. The near record drought led to increased water usage, which in turn led to decreased water availability in my two wells, making the need for conservation absolutely necessary.
Thinking of ways to save water reminded me of a book which a friend had recommended years ago, "The Humanure Handbook". This particular work is an excellent source of information on the environmental hazards of conventional sewage systems, composting toilet systems, gray water systems and composting in general. A must read, in my opinion.
I, being a natural born skeptic, decided to test the simplest of the composting toilet systems described. Simply put, it consists of a bucket, seat and cover material (saw dust is preferred but I chose dry leaves). The reason for this choice of cover material is because I live in the woods and leaves are always available. Sawdust, on the other hand is not as readily available and isn't always free (remember, I AM a tightwad).
Deciding to do early testing outside, I used a portable camp toilet. It is the type that consists of a bucket which sits in a slightly larger container with a seat and lid, and while being designed for use with a bag and chemicals, it served my purposes nicely.
A point to remember is that this was done in extreme summer heat. If anything is going to stink and draw flies, it will be in summer heat, right? Well, believe it or not, there was very little smell and to my amazement, the kitchen scrap bucket drew far more flies than the toilet.
When the bucket was dumped in the compost pile, it did smell bad, but only until covered with more leaves. Within a couple of days, the composting process had produced temperatures high enough to kill any pathogens that might have been present.
I continued through the rest of the summer with this system, looking for some down side. The only one I could find was the trips to the compost pile. This would only be a down side if I wasn't already making those trips with kitchen scraps and such anyway.
By the time cold weather arrived, I had confirmed another up side in addition to water savings, environmental benefits and the prospect of rich compost for the garden. The well pump kicks on every time the toilet is flushed, using electricity. The savings on the electric bill was about nine dollars per month. Nice bonus.
With cold weather, I made a plywood seat with a hole in it for an old dining chair and placed a five gallon bucket under it, and yes, I placed it in the bathroom beside the flush toilet. Behind the bathroom door, I placed a garbage can full of leaves for use as cover material. In an enclosed area, I fully expected the stench to be horrible and was prepared to remove the bathroom's new addition. To my pleasant surprise. there was no more smell than with a flush toilet, and much of the smell is from the leaves (a smell I find pleasant).
With considerations of added high nutrient compost, and the savings of water and energy, it seems more than worthwhile. Add to this savings the environmental benefits, and it seems to me a most excellent addition to our self-sufficient lifestyle.
Please let me know your thoughts, opinions and experiences. Even with the best of things, there is room for improvement.