Country Lore: A Sawdust Toilet for a Rainy Day

A sawdust toilet, such as this one made from recycled materials, can come in handy when the house toilet is out of order.

| February/March 2008

I have been looking at different ways to become more self sufficient. So, I’m doing all of the do-it-yourself projects I can, such as making this sawdust toilet, which cost me just $30 in materials.

I used an old garden hose box, a new toilet seat and a 5-gallon bucket with lid, which sits inside the hose box, plus sawdust. Successive layers of sawdust added after the “deposit” is made eliminate odor. The contents of the bucket can be safely composted, but not for use in vegetable gardens.

My family thought I was nuts, until the other day when our septic system lateral was drowning in rainwater and the toilet wouldn't flush. They sure appreciated the sawdust toilet then!

Michelle Rufener
Topeka, Kansas
5/27/2018 9:25:05 PM

I used the plans at WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG to build my own – I highly recommend you visit that website and check their plans out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling… there’s like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha. Go to WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG if you want some additional plans :)

1/6/2011 6:40:28 PM

That's a beauty. Great use for the hose box. I just finished reading Humanure and I found it to be quite interesting. I'm building one for emergencies, I had no idea that if we lost electricity for a while the sewer system might not work. This makes me feel better. As to the posting byWilson, I have to comment that I cook from scratch and garden organically so I don't have to eat chemicals, heavy metals or drug contaminates. Haven't seen any parasites or worms either. I think my poop is not all that dangerous. As someone else mentioned, you are supposed to compost it one year if heated (naturally), two if not. Plus, I would not use it for the lettuce, for that I have my composting worms, which eat as good as I do, except they are vegetarians and I'm not.

1/6/2011 12:15:08 PM

Parasites can live for months in damp soils. Viruses, bacteria and yeasts can live for varying amounts of times. Heavy metals, hormones and drugs also vary in the amount of time needed to either decay or just be washed away or eaten by something else. Composting might eventally get rid of parasites and some of the "germs", but anything that sporulated wil still be there, and withought testing, you won't know if there are any heavy metal or drug contaminates left in it, either. This is true of any manure, but how far do your chickens, ducks, cows, sheep, etc. travel? They don't usually get exposed to as many things as we do, so their manure needs less processing then ours. Plus, you cull the "unthrifty", so no vectors, either.

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