An Introduction To Composting Toilets: How And Why They Work With Example

Categories: Building Methods

Using Composted Human Feces for Growing Food

Whether to use composted fecal matter to grow food is largely a matter of judgment. If you are new to composting, or have any reason to doubt whether your compost is pathogenically safe, it is prudent to use it only for fertilizing plants in which the edible portion is well off the ground, such as fruit or nut trees.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have for many years used the compost from our composting toilet, which is well managed and is used almost exclusively by us, for fertilizing our vegetable garden and have done so with excellent results.

Screening finished compost 

Enjoying finished compost!

Applying finished compost to garden 

Completing the nutrient cycle!

Some of My Previous Composting Toilet Designs...

Featured below a few of the composting toilets I've designed over the past 15 years. With the exception of the first design, all are "batch" type toilets in which feces, urine, etc. are collected in a chamber for a period of time. That chamber is then left to age while another chamber is filled. This prevents contaminating aged compost with fresh material.

The first three designs were built in south Texas. They featured drains to small subsurface seepage pits for draining excess leachate (urine). They would have benefited from insect traps, which we didn't develop until moving to Arizona.

For a description of the systems we're currently using, see our Bucket-to-Barrel Composting Toilet page and our Barrel Composting Toilet page. 

My first composting toilet. It was designed for one person in fulltime use and featured a drawer in the bottom for removing compost. 

  Page Turn