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Straw bale toilet

Posted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:24 pm
by clanpowell
Inspired partly by the mention of Adam Hart Davis' in the Self sufficientish bible, and the possibility of having redo our septic tank, I am slowly putting together alternative systems for sewerage and waste water. Phase one, which will also reduce our water bill, is a straw bale urinal. I thought I'd outline my plan on here in the hope that people might be able to give some ideas or pointers.

We have a small room with only a toilet in it. I'm going to take out the toilet and close off the outlet to to fosse. The design will essentially be a bench with a toilet seat built in. Below it will be something like a plastic stacker box containing the straw. This is so it can be removed and added to the compost heap at regular intervals. I'm planning to put a front on the bench with a door/hatch which can be opened to remove the box. I hope to use as much recycled/reclaimed stuff to make the bench as possible (The mayor's daughter has given me some shifts at the tip so I'll be scavenging their as well!)
Does this sound like a good idea or is there some major flaw I'm missing out on?
Odours, I have read that straw stops them, is this true? Will I need a vent?
How often would I be emptying it? -small bale used
Toilet paper (Mrs Powell and lady visitors will want to use it) I'm thinking bucket/bin and add to compost-good idea?
Flies. Will they be a problem?

Re: Straw bale toilet

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:13 pm
by doofaloofa
Urine + Straw = Ammonia

Re: Straw bale toilet

Posted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:49 pm
by clanpowell
doofaloofa wrote:Urine + Straw = Ammonia


Re: Straw bale toilet

Posted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:43 pm
by diggernotdreamer
Are you considering putting a whole straw bale inside your house to pee on? Most people I know who have a dry system use shavings or sawdust, a box built round a large bucket with a toilet seat on top, a box of shavings to one side to sprinkle over when you use it. In my outside dry toilet I use whatever comes to hand, straw, sawdust or hay, but only ever small handfuls, it's just a loo in the byre to save me having to traipse all the way to the house for a wee. When I was an HDRA member, they did have a straw bale for the men to wee on, but it was outside and then they planted tomatoes into it when it was starting to break down. A whole straw bale would be heavy and messy to lift in to start with, then when you want to get out a piss laden straw bale, sounds a bit awkward ......... or have I completely got the wrong end the stick (there's that stick again) :roll:

Re: Straw bale toilet

Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:21 am
by The Riff-Raff Element
Ammonia is very pungent, though (contrary to popular belief) not actually that toxic. You'd need to vent at the very least, but what you would end up with would be ideal for cultivating mushrooms.

As someone has already said, wood shaving are the normal substrate for dry toilets - they don't contain a lot of nitrogen themselves so ammonia is not an issue. A close sealing lid is needed to counter flies.

Re: Straw bale toilet

Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 8:34 am
by doofaloofa
I like a potty/bucket for urine collection

I then use the contents, dilluted to water the brassicas, especially the ones that are struggling, or poured onto the compost heap, etc

Any smell issues are remedied by moving/emptying the bucket

Re: Straw bale toilet

Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 9:13 pm
by clanpowell
The bales I can get hold of are quite small compared to the traditional size, and I'm not thinking of putting the whole one in at once. Just enough to fill a standard stacker box so I'm hoping that the weight shouldn't be an issue. The room is on the ground floor. I read that this is what Adam Hart Davis does although I can't find any info on his actual set up. The self sufficientish bible seems to imply that his set up is indoors. Putting a vent in for me would be easy as the roof is low. I knew about NH3 and it's lack of toxicity despite it's smell. The levels required to actually do you any harm are much higher than anything some wee and straw could produce.
I didn't know about it's effect on brassicas, might give that a go.