Easiest Ever Compost Toilet

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The post you’ve all been waiting for…the Bealtaine Cottage Compost Toilet.

Easy to install and simple to use.

No running outside on cold mornings to tramp across wet grass to use the toilet!

Permaculture@ bealtainecottage.com 004This is located in the bathroom…not quite a bathroom though as I took out the bath and installed a shower instead! 

There’s still a little bit of tweaking to be done to finish the project off to a high standard, like decorating the wall where the cistern used to be and making a wooden surround with a small door, but as you can see, it is simple and attractive.

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This is the material used for covering one’s toilet.

It is grown here at Bealtaine Cottage, shredded in the shredder and smells nice and pine fragranced, as it is cut from evergreen trees in the gardens.

This material is also anti-bacterial.

Permaculture@ bealtainecottage.com 005There is absolutely no bad odour! 

So what happens next?

compost loo 001The bucket is taken to a corner of the garden, tucked in behind a Willow fedge, and then emptied into a large bin. The bins have holes in the bottom so all liquid is drained out slowly.

compost loo 003This system uses five such bins on a rotation basis. 

After about a year, the contents have turned into sweet-smelling compost that I use around trees in the lower gardens. 

bealtainecottage.com Permaculture 002This compost is not used in the productive gardens as I have adequate vegetative compost on site in the vegetable and fruit gardens. 

bealtainecottage.com Permaculture 004Besides…the trees thrive on the waste produced here at Bealtaine and in return, I have plenty of wood for my stove…cycle complete!

bealtainecottage.com Permaculture 011…and the Arum Lilies seem to like it!

In the course of life here at Bealtaine Cottage, there is really no need for a septic tank…flush it away?

bealtainecottage.com Permaculture 009There is no away!

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  1. Hi Colette, Some store bought composting toilets have a separate reservoir for urine. Does yours? Or do both solids and liquids go into the single bucket?

  2. That’s a brilliant set up you have there colette. I’m going to be setting up a composting toilet myself and certainly going to be taking a few pages out of your book. I’m curious though, when you drill holes in the bottom are you concerned about fecal matter polluting the groundwater or have you taken precautions? And would you attract rats?

  3. Hi,
    I was wondering if you came across any planning permission issues with your composting toilet? We are wanting to build one but are worried about form filling and costs of getting permission, or getting into trouble with the council if we just go ahead with it. Do you have any advice please, we are in Co. Roscommon.

    • As far as I am aware, there are no rules governing this. For me it was all about getting away from the rules governing the septic tank and taking full responsibility for household waste in all its forms. The septic tank is now a grey water tank and the compoost system is well established and in its fifth year.

  4. Thanks for the post Colette. We’re looking to upgrade our compost toilet and this might be the route we’ll take. Lovely to see it all so clearly laid out. 🙂

  5. Hi Colette – I’ve been using the bucket system very successfully for quite a few years now, primarily because we’re on rain/tank water only and often have summer droughts so it makes perfect sense. I’ve used mostly sawdust which has become a little harder to obtain so have armed myself with a shredder to deal to all the prunings and it works great! We’re lucky here in NZ to have access to loo paper made only from sugar cane and bamboo – it’s called Smart Ass, love the name! 🙂

  6. Great post as usual and a wonderful use for the thug Leylandi trimmings. I was wondering if you still have your septic for your sinks (kitchen and bathroom and shower)?

  7. Hi, just wondering if you include pee in this bucket, is the liquid in your opinion helpful or not in the composting process. I currently keep my pee seperate from the other. I find it no problem but explaining the process to newcomers is not so easy. Good luck further with your project, it all looks so romantic:-)

  8. Very nice and I love that you use on site materials to “cover” things up. It’s a bit more complicated and finicky and probably not appropriate for most guests but have you considered experimenting with a UDDT (Urine Diverting Dry Toilet)?

    • No. I pee in a bucket whenever possible as this is a great fertiliser for growing plants…not to be wasted and used fresh. Ah, now you know the secret to all the lovely flowers here!

  9. This sounds like a really good idea for an outside toilet to me ,when the kids and their families arrive often there is a queue for the toilet , I shall definitely be looking into this and also scouring the lidl brochures for a shredder , great post so informative . Kind regards Kathy.xxx

  10. We are in the process of building a wooden cabin and were debating if the compost toilet would work for us, thank you for helping us to make our decision. By the way could you tell me what type of shredder you us. Thank you for all the great information.

  11. I just love it Colette, there is much beauty in a composting toilet not to mention saving the earth. You have done it again. Thanks for sharing such a good thing for Mother Earth.

  12. Hi Collete,
    Would love to see a photo of the bucket under the seat. Does the bucket sit right up against the seat? Do you also wee in it, or elsewhere? (sorry! lol!)
    Why do you burn your loo paper instead of putting it in the bucket as well?
    One more question, does it not get messy when you have to wash is out when full?
    Absolutely love this idea and didn’t realise it could be such a simple set up!

    • The bucket is a wide-necked builders bucket, standard size, cost about 2 euros here.
      The bucket does indeed sit as close to the box as possible, the seat is on top of the box.
      Toilet paper is whitened with chemicals. I prefer to keep all chemicals out of the system.
      Due to the use of biomass shreddings, the bucket stays relatively clean. I use a can of rainwater from the barrel to wash and rinse 3 times. This is always enough.
      I would suggest you set up a system alongside your toilet and experiment with using that as a transition process to full composting. You may come up with ideas that top this simple system.
      Blessings X

  13. Done the same as you, Colette – I’m presently using turf dust – of which I have an abundance after clearing up the turf shed – and it seems to be working fine. Do like the idea of using pine chippings though X Jan

      • Straw is good too – but a bit bulky for in the loo bucket itself.

        However, if you’ve ever used straw bales for anything, you know how much (usually bits and pieces with lots of dust) ends up on the ground/floor of wherever you store it. This can be swept up and used in the outside bin as a separation layer – it provides intersticial air spaces to help the compost break down quicker and gives some insulation in winter.

        Shredded paper is good too. I don’t worry too much about inks as many printers prefer soy-based inks these days anyway but, more than that, the micro-organisms in ‘humanure’ are fantastic at breaking down even toxic stuff. There really is little that they can’t cope with, though naturally we should not acquire toxics in the first place. Still, it wouldn’t overly concern me.

        I will send you a link to some photographs of my set-up when I can get organised. Swapping ideas and practical examples is never a bad thing.


  14. Hi Colette

    We’ve been using a similar ‘bucket-and-chuck-it’ dry toilet system for about 6 years now. We wouldn’t change back to the primitive water closet system, which is a total waste of resources: water, electricity, infrastructure, maintenance and money. I’ll be removing that old-fashioned toilet when we next renovate the bathroom. Like you, our compost toilet is in that ‘wee room’ and people are impressed by its neatness, cleanliness and functionality.

    Dry toilets are calm (a deliberate choice of word), simple, use no energy whatsoever apart from a small amount of physical energy and – best of all – we’re responsible for own own actions. We don’t burden anyone or anything with our ‘waste’ (which it is not).

    We use sawdust as a cover material most of the time because we’ve access to unlimited amounts of it but I love the idea of pine chippings. I’ll bear that in mind when we get rid of our dreadful Larsen pines. They may yet have a use!

    You’re doing a great job, Colette, keep it up, keep spreading the word.


    • I’m so glad to hear about systems that have been in operation for this length of time, David! It’s really encouraging! You cite good, sound reasons for your scheme! The same as myself, though better articulated! Here’s hoping that our “coming out” will encourage others, Lol!
      Colette X

  15. I love this idea so much. Like you say the simple ideas really are the best! I had the privilege of seeing this toilet during my visit. Before my visit, I didn’t think I would be saying to my girlfriend on our trip home “That toilet smelled so good!” That was a first. 🙂 Also I love the closing of the cycle by using the compost to feed the trees for your firewood. Great stuff. Well done on another excellent & inspiring post and thank you for sharing!

    • I’m laughing just imagining that conversation in the car! All the visitors so far have been pleasantly surprised with the Bealtaine Cottage Sustainable Toilet Facilities, Lol!
      Colette X

  16. Love it.
    My son is fascinated by toilets! And their workings..so I will be letting him read this when he arrives back from school.
    Maura xxx

  17. We live on a houseboat and our compost toilet was the answer to the problem of smelly holding tanks and where to pump out. We use sawdust but I love your idea of pine needles. Will have to have a word with my tree surgeon son ……xxx

    • Sounds idyllic! All evergreen is good and some shreddings more potent than others, especially Red Western Cedar…your son will have access to much of this…brilliant!

  18. Very interesting……. went to a festival last year… the chemical, cubicle loos were truly disgusting to the point I thought I would just wait till I got home, or get back in the car and drive to a pub to find one, and then I discovered the compost loos…..spacious, hung with bunches of lavender, and no smell or rubbish…. like your comment, “There is no away”… indeed there is not

  19. Really on our list so thank you for making it seem easy and do-able, and love the idea of the fragrant evergreen! Somehow I thought you could only use sawdust and that would be something we’d have to buy in.

    • This system has been in use by me for over a year, so the research is solid. It works perfectly and has not lessened my overall quality of life here at Bealtaine Cottage. I can heartily recommend it!

  20. Brilliant post! Never knew how it worked… By the way, how is it installed & how does one empty or evacuated it?
    Is it only possible to install in a house or can it be done in an apartment too? These questions kept coming up whenever I saw a post on the subject but it seemed so complicated I never dared to venture 🙂

  21. I have a cottage in Normandy with another cottage in the grounds with no mains services. Don’t intend to have any either as there is a well outside for water and we will use lamps inside and a wood burning stove. Your loo will be just the job(!) as we have lots of conifer hedging and fir trees. Brill! X

  22. Great simple idea that anybody can implement into their house, do you know I think I can use that idea, I have need of a downstairs loo for disabled hubby and the plumbing was going to be a costly affair, this is something I can do to easily rectify that thankyou so much for sharing the idea.

    • All evergreen… but particularly the fast growing leylandi hedges, Larch, Pine, Xmas trees are particularly good! Also Willow and Blackcurrant…some gorgeous scents!

  23. Hello…unrelated topic but I thought you would know the answer…poppy seeds…can I cut the green heads and dry them or do I have to wait until the heads are brown before cutting? I would be most grateful if you would share your knowledge…regards Debra

    • Cut them green and stand them in vases without water. After a few weeks of admiring them, take each on carefully and hold upside down…the seeds will come tumbling out and you can keep the empty seedheads for years to come to decorate your home!

      • thank you for the advice! The poppies although beautiful (and I do want to keep the seeds) have taken over a bed where some beautiful lillies are struggling to see the light. Now I know I can cut the seed pods down and make a window for the lillies…thank you again.

Your comments are welcome!