Outhouse Verbotten

Discussion in 'General Homesteading & Building' started by diane5000, Oct 21, 2009.

  1. diane5000

    diane5000 Member

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    It is now October in Ontario Canada and the temperature is dropping fast.

    The rainwater system in our outhouse is pretty much frozen.

    We have no indoor plumbing, no running water and no septic system in the old

    homestead and we are getting a tinge desperate.

    We would welcome any advice out there on how we could makeshift a new biffy.

    Diane

    From Beyond the Grid | Lliving the green life
    :confused:
     
  2. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    I would think that it is a little late to prepare for that before the winter-snows come along.

    I did some digging on information regarding outhouses in Ontario (I am in Alberta) and found that you do not need a permit to build it. For the details on construction and the requirements for building it, please peak at this site that I dug-up for you: Cottage Planner Outhouses and Building Codes
     

  3. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

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    For the waste you can just bag or bottle it and dump it outside in one spot. It'll freeze solid. In the spring you can burn it.

    Keeping water on hand to drink is easy. I'm not so sure how simple it would be to take showers. Perhaps there's a place nearby or on the way to work that has a shower. I had a friend who got a health club membership. Worked out a bit and showered before work.

    Sounds tough. Good luck!
     
  4. northernontario

    northernontario Well-Known Member

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    Not exactly sure I understand the problem... i've used plenty of outhouses in the winter... various camps/cabins/wilderness trips. Perhaps what's confusing me is your 'rainwater system'... usually an outhouse just has a toilet seat and a pit. Every once in a while you throw some lime on the pile to help with breaking things down.

    Ideally your outhouse has a DEEP pit.

    And you may find that a chunk of blue/pink foamboard, with a hole cut in the center, is much more comfortable in the winter than a toilet seat. The foamboard heats up almost instantly when your bare butt hit it... almost no cold shock. Whereas the toilet seat tends to hold the cold, and makes it very uncomfortable. The foam actually warms up from your body heat, and is quite comfortable.
     
  5. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

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    Incinerator if you have access to one is great.
     
  6. diane5000

    diane5000 Member

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    Our Outhouse is Verbotten!!!!

    To clear any confusion...we cannot dig a DEEP hole because of a lot of rock! We have a shallow hole, so to disperse the waste, we have built an outhouse
    that uses rainwater. When in use we are quite close to the hole, so we have hooked up a RV bowl to separate us from the dung beetles and the odour. Now that it's winter we need to use a different system, because any water would naturally freeze. If you would like to see this super summer john we have a vidio on our site.

    From Beyond the Grid | Lliving the green life

    Cheers,
    Diane and Warren
     
  7. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

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    I can't get your link to work. What is the waste water draining into? Is there a septic system of any kind? If not is it draining into a local body of water such as a pond? I hope it isn't simply getting washed onto the soil. Proper disposal of waste is important. For the winter it will freeze but unless you have a proper sanitary way of disposing of the waste you risk health problems and possible contamination of your soil, local water, and ground water.
     
  8. diane5000

    diane5000 Member

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    the politics of poop

    The site host was having difficulty, please try again.

    This is a benign little system. It uses very little water to function. I'd say we went through about 60 gallons of rainwater all summer. Not much different than going in the bush and letting rainwater wash it into the soil. Compared to a septic system I think this is much more environmentally friendly. Solids from that system are spread on some farmer's field in high concentrations. The outhouse is about a quarter mile from any water and we are a mile into the bush and there are hundreds of acres of forest around us. I don't think our little deposits are going to seriously pollute the regional ecosystems.

    I gotta say, it is precisely why we live where we live that we don't have to deal with the bureaucrats telling us where to poop.

    Diane and Warren
     
  9. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    I was able to get the link to work - some great writeups there!!! :2thumb:

    For a temporary fix, you could get a waterless porta-potty which is basically a 5-gallon bucket lined with a heavy-plastic that is placed into a larger bucket that has a lid and a seat to sit on. Purchased from CanadianTire for about $35 it did well enough. Kinda like a Yukon "HoneyPot" that sits in the cold-zone of a house (enclosed, but, unheated porch) and will freeze through-out the winter-time. Dumping it is a scentless process when frozen - in the summer, plug that nose!

    Reliance Portable Chemical Toilet | Canadian Tire

    I have since upgraded to a "water-filled" upper tank that will wash-down any "cling-ons" into the lower collection "black-water" holding zone. Both styles work well for camping, I don't know if they would be sufficient for use longer than a few weeks. :dunno:
     
  10. northernontario

    northernontario Well-Known Member

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    I second Naekid... given the limitations on your location (rocky), you might want to look at chemical toilets or composting toilets. My step-mother's small cottage on Georgian Bay has an outhouse, but she and my father added a composting toilet after seeing them at the Cottage Show in Toronto. The outhouse still gets used, but the composting toilet is great for those nights when you don't want to walk to the outhouse... there are a lot of bears in the area. ;)

    I definitely understand rocky conditions. Where I am, near Sudbury, is quite rocky. The crawlspace in the original part of our house has exposed rock in certain areas. The foundation was built right over the rock!
     
  11. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

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    Human waste from septic tanks should never be spread on farmland. It can spread human diseases. Only animal waste can be spread on crops safely. Also just "going" in the woods at random without burying the waste is bad. Even wild animals know to bury their waste.

    I'm not concerned about you damaging the environment. Rather I'm concerned that human diseases and bacteria would end up contaminating the area around your camp.

    If a friend if yours comes to visit and has some form of hepatitis and uses your "toilet." His waste will be washed into the area surrounding the toilet area. If you were to then come into contact with dirt (i.e. touching your shoes to take them off) from the surrounding soil you could be contaminated. Many of the diseases are permanent and highly communicable.

    Also simple bacteria can breed in the area around the toilet and cause serious illness. Sanitation is a serious issue. Especially if the waste is exposed and mixed with non moving water. The human bacteria can then be carried back into the home and onto food supplies by flies and other insects.

    I'm not saying you need a full septic system. Just that contamination and illness are possible if the set up isn't sanitary.
     
  12. diane5000

    diane5000 Member

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    Don't poop on the ground

    So, if I am reading you right, I should not poop on the ground and I should not let my friends poop on the ground, especially those who are diseased. Well, that's why we have an outhouse, all enclosed including an RV toilet bowl between us and the poop so we don't get any on our shoes.

    I'm sorry, just having some fun with it, you are absolutely right, of course. We should all be careful and sanitary about what we do with poop and such.

    And although, as you say, poop should not be spread on farmland but there was a case in Ontario not so long ago where truckers were hauling the stuff from Toronto and spreading it on vacant land north of the city. So, it's not right but it happens. My point was that the risks of contamination of our little outhouse pale in comparison to the potential damage done by one trucker who decides that rather than deposit his septic load at a legitimate depot, instead just finds a vacant property and dumps it. How many people know what happens to their septic wastes after it leaves their property in a truck or a pipe?

    :flower:
    Diane and Warren
     
  13. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    I used to work for the "village-works-department" of my hometown - collecting garbage, maintaining the parks and checking on the sewage-system. I got to see first-hand what happens with the sewage-system in the pond and how to take care of it all. The processes that needed to be followed in order to allow the final clean-water back into the eco-system was very precise and there was no "human waste" left - just basic compost that was able to be used as such.

    For your place being rocky as you describe it, I would say that your best-bet is to tank your waste and have a pumper-truck come by from time to time to pump it out for treatment.

    You could use basic chemical-toilet procedures to extend the period of time between pump-truck requirements and you could also use a solar outhouse where the UV light is directed into the holding tank to kill bacteria, use a medium sized solar-panel connected to 12-volt fans to circulate fresh-air through duct-work to remove the moisture content from the holding tank and from time to time use lime to break-down the waste and help turn it into compost which could be used to fertilize non-food-bearing shrubs / bush (like a hedge).
     
  14. zorro

    zorro Well-Known Member

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    I own an old house, also built directly on the rock. There is 2 feet of crawling space, and it is directly on the rock, no soil at all. My neighbor is the son of the builder. His father died shortly after digging the shallow well (by hand) in the rock (not drilling it, digging it, it's about 10 feet deep X 10 feet X 8 feet). I am concerned about the well becoming contaminated by greywater and poop.

    Nobody can tell me what is the water treatment system, and my neighbor (and other elder people around here) says most probably it's a two-stage: two cavities in the ground at a given distance, with a horizontal pipe linking the top of the two cavities. But nobody knows where it is located. I start having an idea because two spots of lawn are starting to "recess". But I have no idea if the cavities are just soil, or lined in any way. I'm also concerned about that system becoming "full" at some point (seems to be really big cavities according to the two spots, but more than 90 years operating...).

    So I am seriously thinking composting the toilet content and treating greywater. I have looked to buy a commercial composting toilet, but I feel like the price is way too high. I tough building one myself but was concerned about bacteria in the final product. I like NaeKid idea. It's winter here (5 feet of snow already), but this spring I will build something and post the results here.
     
  15. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    zorro,

    Attached is a basic-picture showing how the system works. You can have multiple stacks (shown is just one) where fresh-air is brought into the tank and stacks as exhaust. The solar-panel could run direct to the 12-volt fans if you wish, could be hooked to a battery-timer, could be hooked to a pressure-switch (sit-down and the fans kick-on) and then using a "sun-tube" direct the UV-light into the holding-tank.

    Hope this helps you in your quest for more information.

    PS. You can combine the technology of a solar-still with the solar-outhouse and get water quickly that could be used to water your garden instead of just venting the moisture directly to the air.
     

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  16. zorro

    zorro Well-Known Member

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    What I finally did

    Hello guys! We finally decided what to do after reading this enlightening book :
    The humanure handbook from Joseph Jenkins.
    Here is the solution he suggests and we choosen :
    1. First, build a compost bin
    2. Second, put a good layer of straw in it's bottom
    3. Get a truckload of wood sawdust (without chemicals in it)
    4. Get a couple of plastic buckets
    5. Build a wooden box with a hole which your bucket fits into
    6. Put some sawdust in the bucket and ****
    7. When the bucket is full, empty it in your compost bin
    8. Always put some stuff (straw, soil or any vegetable matter) on the compost pile
    9. Always put some sawdust after you **** in the bucket
    10. When the compost bin is full, build a second one and let the first one "cook" another year
    11. A 4 x 4 x 4 compost bin is supposed to be enough to collect a year of **** for a 4 persons household

    That's that easy! Then, after two years of "cooking" your compost is ready to be used in your garden. If you don't believe it, GO GET A COPY OF THAT BOOK. This must be the best kept secret in the world!
     
  17. GroovyMike

    GroovyMike Well-Known Member

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    Our outhouse is not for daily use, but when needed everyone just puts scoop of wood ash on top. Seems to work fine. When the pit gets full, dig a new pit and pull the outhouse (bulit on skids) to the new hole. Cover the nearly full pit with ash and earth and you are good for another couple of years.
     
  18. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

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    We've lived on our land for 7 years and all we have in an outhouse. We dug a new hole when we first moved here and moved the outhouse over it. About 3 years ago we dug another new hole and moved the building. Now most of the kids have reached adulthood and moved out, so it's not filling as fast.

    We leave the door open when no one is in it. (It faces a direction where it's not an eyesore!) That keeps it aired out, in addition to the vents. It also lets us know at a glance if it's occupied. Another plus is that it keeps mice and packrats from setting up housekeeping, though around here people keep their toilet paper in mouse-proof containers (metal cans, usually).

    Since most people in our neighborhood have and use their outhouses, we all decorate them nicely, paint them a light, cheerful color, hang pictures (humorous, if possible!), and keep entertainment there. One friend has an etch-a-sketch in their outhouse!

    The top couple feet of our ground is rocky, and under that it's a gravely clay. Our hole is 5' deep. My husband has talked about doing the double-chamber style of outhouse where one side is composting while you use the other. By the time the other side is full, the composting side is ready to be cleaned out and distributed.

    Milwaukee, Wisconsin has (or had, back in the '80s) a product called "Milorganite", and it's composted human waste, bagged and sold at garden centers such as Stein's. I don't remember if they had a warning on it about whether it could be used on food-producing ground, or just flowers.
     
  19. zorro

    zorro Well-Known Member

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    more precision

    Well, I'm not going for the "outhouse" option for 2 reasons :
    1) As here it goes below -20 Celcius very often during winter (-4 Fahrenheit), an outhouse would literally be a pain in the ***.
    2) It is forbidden by law here, because of the risk to pollute underground water. As I get my water from a well (its a shallow one, only about 10 feet deep), I'm very aware of the risk of polluting drinking water.

    We're going to put that toilet inside the house, at the exact place where the traditional toilet was. Many people (on another forum) who do humanure composting for years told me that if you put a good amount of wood sawdust on feces (and urine) then it's not supposed to smell. However, you need to insist on the "good amount", which is supposed to be enough so to create a barrier. In other word, after each visit to the toilet, you need to completely cover your thing with sawdust. So this solution works only if you're able to get a lot of sawdust (which is feasible here as there are a lot of sawmills around).

    By composting the content of the pail, instead of just letting the thing rot in a hole in the ground, we will get a useful by product (compost, which will be very useful as our ground is not very good to grow stuff), and we won't risk to pollute our well.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010