On the subject of our earthship house in the works, I have decided to write a little about composting toilets and the use of humanure.
We are currently using a composting toilet at the cabin since there is no running water to it. Of course being on the frugal side our current composting toilet is a homemade one. I cannot see spending close to $1000 on a toilet of any kind especially one I can make myself for less than $20.
We took some old 5 Gallon buckets (currently we have four) three for use as the toilet and one for hubby to take back and forth to the mill to bring home cover material (saw dust). I simply attached a new store bought toilet seat to the wall of our cabin at just the right height that it will sit level on top of a 5 Gallon bucket. To do this I took the lid to the toilet seat off of the hinges and used those hinges pushed around backwards to attach it to the wall. Then we simply sit the lid on the seat upside down so it doesn't leave an open gap between the lid and seat for bugs (mainly flys) to accumulate... since our toilet is outside on the front porch. As far as use we use it like a regular toilet except that when done using instead of flushing we add a scooper (empty 12.5 ounce powder baby formula can) full of saw dust to the bucket sprinkling it around to cover everything. We have absolutely no problems with smell of any kind even in the stretch this year of weeks with everyday in the triple digit temps.
I have my humanure facility, an old refrigerator with all the guts removed, in the yard where we empty the bucket. Being a family of two adults and four children using this toilet we have to empty it approximately three times in two weeks. We simply dump the contents of the bucket, which at the point of emptying resemble nothing more than saturated saw dust, into the open refrigerator that is laid on its back so it opens "up". Then we add whatever else needs to go into the compost pile on top of that followed by a layer of cardboard. This cycle is just repeated over and over... It is actually composting nicely out there, no smell to the pile, and no critters trying to dig in it. We have even added our furry loss, Gruff, to this pile and followed the same layer procedure without any smell or critters attracted. There are several great sites and books out there about the whole Humanure movement.
We plan on using two or three of these in the earthship house as well once it is finished. Of course I will extend our compost pile, and most likely build several of them as it takes at least a year for the humanure to properly cure and any and all bacteria from the so called "sewage" in it to die so that it can be used in the gardens. I would prefer though to let it cure for at least two years for my personal preference though before using it in our vegetable gardens just to be safe..
It seems to be composting rather quickly too as we have been using the same standard size 18 cu. ft. refrigerator for going on three months now and even after that long and putting Gruff who was about 40lbs. into the pile it is only right at about half full.... I am still thinking that I need to go out there and probably punch a few drain wholes through the sides at the bottom (well back) just to let any excess moisture from the rain (if we ever get any) drain out. If you have any questions or would like anymore information on the use of a composting toilet or humanure please be sure to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.