Building a composting toilet – a real shitty story

When I first had the idea of building the Magic Bus, I had plans to basically build it just like a mini-RV. Equipped with a clean water tank, a gray water tank, and a black water tank. Well, two things changed that. The main thing that changed the plans was the fact that all that water was just going to add weight and use up more gasoline. The worst thing about the Magic Bus, is the gas mileage that it gets, which is not very good. As for gas mileage, it’s exactly like an RV.

Studying others who have built van dwellings, I knew there was a chemical toilet out there. I never liked that idea. I am actually not that sure, but I am pretty sure that chemical toilets are nothing different than those blue portapotties, and those things are disgusting. That’s when I discovered composting toilets, which sounded a lot better than a turd floating in some blue liquid. So I did some research and I liked it. It sounded like a much better idea than having three different tanks on board. The clean water tank was a given, and that’s fine, but I don’t see why the majority of gray water can’t just go on the ground, unless I am in a preserve or something. As for no black water tank, that sounded great, as I wasn’t thrilled to have to clean it out. Then I found the following video on youTube. This convinced me that composting was the way to go, and it didn’t seem to hard to build one of these things. A lot easier than solar panels.

Those toilets are like a thousand dollars. That’s a lot of money for a vented bucket and a funnel to a bottle. So I decided to make my own. First thing was to build a box to house house everything. I did the same thing I did for every other wooden structure. I ripped down white pine, and I notched, rabbeted, dadoed, whatever you want to call it, all the joints together. Then I put some thin plywood on the sides that weren’t up against a wall already. Then I painted it with more Rustoleum paint.

I thought and thought on how to make the door for it. Hinges? No, there had to be a better way. I decided to use three latches that locked the door in place. I made them out of some pieces of plywood, a dowel rod, and a block of wood. I angled the locking blocks of wood so that it will pull the door tight. Then it was just about adding some closed cell foam rubber stripping to make it airtight. Worked like a charm.

Then I just made a toilet seat out of some three quarter plywood, mounted it on the box, then used a router to cut a hole in the box flush with the toilet seat. Then I added a plywood lid, with more foam rubber stripping, and hinged it to the box. Then it was more paint to seal it up, to make it airtight, to make it waterproof, as this is in the shower. Which it also makes a great seat for the shower, or something to prop my leg on for shaving. It has many uses other than something to crap in.

I found a cheap replacement vacuum cleaner hose on Amazon to use for ventilation. There was already a hole in the wheel well of the van, where the previous owner installed a sink. When I got the van, along with the wood inside, there was a wooden box that had a metal bowl in it, and PVC pipes running to the hole in the wheel well. I got rid of all that first thing, and now I am using the existing hole as my ventilation. I cut the vacuum cleaner hose down to size. I cut a hole in the box, then I siliconed the piece of hose to the hole in the box and to the hole in the wheel well. That is, after I put a piece of mesh on the end to keep bugs and critters out. I will probably eventually add an exhaust fan to it, but more on that later. With the rest of the vacuum cleaner hose, I just use it to make eerie music by spinning it around real fast.

At this point, it was time to start working on the actual toilet functions. The part for the peat moss and where the poo goes, is nothing more than a five gallon paint bucket. As for the pee, well I couldn’t find a funnel that I actually liked, so I built a trough. Out of plexiglass, I built a box with an angled bottom. The bottom of the box angles both ways to a single corner. The trough also has flanges that hold it in place in the toilet box, with an arm that can be moved to lock it in place. The same with the bucket. Both are just wedged in there with a lever lock on them. Both can be removed and cleaned. I had to cut away some of the bucket to fit the trough in there, but that has caused no problems. The bucket is still very sturdy. The trough has a tube coming off of it to a one liter Coke bottle. The lid of the bottle has some tiny vent holes so the pee can get in, and the air can get out. The bottle is just velcroed to the bucket. I went as simple as I could.

All in all it came out pretty good, but as of writing this, I have no idea how well it works. I have not crapped in it yet. I have not pissed in it yet. I haven’t even bought any peat moss yet. That means that how well it works will be another blog. Come back then to know if I decided to add a vent fan to the whole thing, and if there were any other changes. I promise no pictures for that blog.

Composting Toilet Composting Toilet Composting Toilet
Composting Toilet Composting Toilet Composting Toilet