The Homestead and Humanure Compost System

Humanure Composting System

We recently were sent a message from The Homestead Life asking about our humanure and composting system. We have been using this very simple and easy humanure system for over 5 years with great success and various benefits to our homestead.

The most common response to a humanure systems is a turning up of the nose. That was my reaction when my wife first presented the idea to me. I thought the house would smell and the compost would smell. But that is not true at all. The smell is non-existent in the home and is not noticeable in the compost area as well even on the hottest of days. So, I just want to say that I was against this from the beginning. But facing a $5k-10k septic purchase and installation bill, I decided to give it a try. The results have been fantastic and I don’t ever foresee us using anything else.

The Homestead Life is facing these same questions and challenges. So that is why they contacted us to get the low down on our composting system.

Some people are quick to turn their nose up at the system and think the whole thing is disgusting. As long as you keep the system organized, clean and managed properly, it can be a very beneficial asset on the homestead. It saves you money. It provides free compost on a regular basis. It’s safe and helpful to the environment.

What about zoning regulations

This can be the only sticky part. As we discuss in the video, most areas don’t have any regulations on this topic because so few people use it. But if a zoning or regulatory authority ever decided to give you trouble for a humanure system, there are plenty of published scientific studies that show the benefits and safety of a well managed system. This ammo can come in handy should you ever have to face a legal battle over a system like this. A simple search for “Humanure Study” will bring up a plethora of published papers and University research about this topic.

We hope you will enjoy the video and that it will be helpful in your search for answers concerning Humanure composting.

About Zachary Bauer

Zachary lives with his wife, two sons and his wife's parents on An American Homestead deep in the mountains of the American Ozarks. They all moved there together in July of 2013 where they began to build the homestead. They are off-grid with the exception of a phone line.

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  1. have you ever thought of using worms to eat the waste? it would turn it into worm castings which you wouldn’t have to worry about ecoli so you could use it anywhere.

  2. We have a cabin that is mostly off grid. After much discussing and no’s from my husband, I installed a homemade composting toilet. Box made from scrapes laying around, bucket, and an old toilet seat. After about a month of use the smell was terrible and required daily changing due to the urine keeping it wet. My husband said no more! I told him that I would do more research and discovered the urine diverting system. I ran a tube from the urine diverter through the floor and into a pit filled with gravel. It has been a month and I have only changed the bucket twice. I love the compost toilet and I highly recommend it to anyone.

    • You don’t need to divert the urine. In fact the urine provides most of the needed nitrogen to break the waste down. So then how do you get rid of the smell? The answer is the use different wood. Small hickory chips works the best. But you can also use pine chips or shavings. Most people who have a smell problem are using oak. It’s the most widely available wood chip in North America. But when combined with waste and urine, the smell is horrible. Try Hickory or Pine and keep that valuable urine.

  3. Do you have a video with instructions on your composting toilet or did you purchase your toilet

  4. We’ve been doing the humanure thing for 7 years here in the Ozarks. We use oak sawdust that we get for free from the local sawmill and I use leaves for the top layer and tamp them down with the backside of the leaf rake.

    The sawdust works great in the bucket. since it’s so fine, no odor escapes. I don’t have a compost thermometer but can see the steam and feel the heat coming off the piles so I know it’s composting good. We let it sit for over a year and then use it on ornamentals and fruit trees. No veggies.

    Prior editions of the humanure handbook are free in pdf form from Joe Jenkins’ website.

  5. Thank you so much for all this info! Quick question: What do you do with the toilet paper? Throw it in or dispose of it separately?

    Thanks again!

    • Toilet paper is biodegradable so it goes in to the compost bucket with all the other waste. After composting the waste in the compost bin for a year, you don’t even know that the TP was even there.

    • Caroline J Stafford

      How big are your bins? As in demensions, and also how long does one bin last before it’s full?

      • They are 36″x36″x36″. The frame is pressure treated lumber and the sides a cedar fence picks. For the five of us each been lasts about two months. Thanks for asking. Tim

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