How To Make a Composting Toilet

Whether you are camping without a water supply, trying to be environmentally friendly, or just want to save money on energy and water, there are many scenarios where a compostable toilet may be your first option for your number two. In this article, we’re going to discuss how to make a composting toilet and save money at the same time.

A composting toilet is a unique solution when it comes to how you use the bathroom. Unlike a traditional toilet or outhouse, a composting toilet does not use water to move or house waste. A composting toilet uses dry materials such as sawdust or wood chips to create an oxygen-rich environment. This environment with a high heat source will allow bacteria to break down waste and transform it into usable compost. The dry materials in a composting toilet work to break down dangerous pathogens that cause a bad smell and possible sickness.

There are many ways to construct a composting toilet each with varying levels of complexity and cost of materials. Before you start to build your toilet, you must first decide which way is best for you.

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The Basic Model

The most basic composting toilet you can build only requires a few materials and can be built at an extremely cheap cost. In order to build this toilet, you will need:

  • 2 five-gallon plastic buckets
  • A piece of ply-wood big enough for a seat.
  • 2x4s cut into 8 planks that are the same height as your bucket
  • Toilet seat
  • Hardware
  • Sawdust

To make the toilet, you must first cut a hole in your plywood that is the same diameter as the opening to your bucket. This will act as the base of your composting toilet that the user will sit on. For comfort, attach the toilet seat so that it covers the hole in your plywood.

Next, connect two of your planks of wood along their long edge to make a right angle. This can be done with wood screws or a wood glue of your choice. Make sure that the short edges of both planks are in-line when connecting them along the long edge. Use all eight of your planks to create four legs for your toilet to stand on. Secure one leg to each of the four corners of your plywood seat to create a toilet that can be comfortable sitting on.

Next, fill your first 5-gallon bucket about a quarter of the way up with sawdust. Place this bucket directly under the hole that you have created in the toilet seat. This will be the waste receptacle for your composting toilet. Fill your second bucket up with your remaining sawdust. After you use your composting toilet, use the sawdust from the second bucket to cover the waste in your composting toilet.

If you are looking for a completely covered system, consider replacing the legs of your composting toilet with a plywood case. For this, you will need five additional pieces of plywood measured to the same height and length as the piece you used for the seat. Connect these pieces of plywood along their edges to create a cube without a bottom or top. Secure your plywood seat to the top of your cube using hinges from the hardware store. Make sure that the height of your cube can fit your five-gallon bucket. Place the bucket inside the cube, close the lid, and you are ready to use.

How Much does it cost to make a composting toilet?

Depending on the model you decide to build, a composting toilet is a relatively cheap solution when it comes to your bathroom needs. A basic model will cost you anywhere from $20-$50 depending on the cost of materials at your local hardware store. If you decide to add any extras to you composting toilet, the price will rise, but even with the most premium additions, building a compostable toilet will stay relatively cheap.

How to make a Composting Toilet for an RV

Composting toilets are a great choice when it comes to RV’s. Especially if you use your RV in parks without a water supply or off-grid. A composting toilet will allow you to completely disregard the plumbing in your RV while still having a comfortable place to go.

When using a composting toilet in your RV, make sure that you build one that is a closed system. Using complicated models with vents and hoses everywhere may not be a great option for the limited space of an RV. It is also important to make sure you have enough dry material with you to use so you can continue to cover your waste. If you do not keep the waste covered, it will begin to smell and can even release dangerous pathogens into the air of your RV.

When building it for the RV, you’ll want your composting toilet to last. Consider using heavy-duty materials. Sturdier pieces of wood will ensure a more secure feel and a longer-lasting toilet. Consider using a bigger bucket to extend the time between emptying the receptacle.

How to make a Composting Toilet for an RV

For added quality consider adding a vent to the toilet to ensure that the smell is at a minimum. This can be done by cutting a small hole in the toilet lid and attaching plastic tubing. Run the tubing to an exit point outside of the RV. Secure the tubing to the lid of the toilet using silicone caulk to create a seal. This will allow any smells created by the compost to be vented outside of your RV. This may not be an option if you are not able to cut an exit point in your RV for the tube to vent through or if you do not already have an opening where the hose can be running through.

Adding a toilet paper holder or storage on the sides of your toilet is also an option for a premium build. Repurposed kitchen cabinets are a great way to add toilet paper storage to your composting toilet. Cabinets can also be used to hold the seat up if they are tall enough to clear the buckets.

Any of these additions could bring the total cost of your composting toilet closer to the hundred-dollar range. Although these upgrades may add to the cost of your toilet, they will ensure that your composting toilet can be used for years to come. A DIY composting toilet in your RV will save you money in the long run and maybe the best option if you truly want to live off-grid.

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