Make your own waterless toilet.

From the zine How to have an amazingly adventurous life for zero dollars a day.

I found everything I needed to make a composting toilet in one day of hard rubbish collection at Brighton.  The only thing I paid for is the silicon sealant.

Here’s a recipe to make your own.


  • 2 wheelie bins, pickle barrels or plastic drums.  I found two wheelie bins on the street in hard rubbish, and no I didn’t just steal people’s bins, they had cracks in them and a notice saying please take the bin.  You need two because when one is full and the material is composting, you need another one to be adding to.
  • Milk crate, bakery tray and a piece of screen or plastic mesh (or anything you can find that will serve the same purpose).  This is to make a raised platform in the base of the bin so that liquids can drain through, so the compost pile doesn’t get wet and smelly.
  • A piece of plastic plumbing (technical name) to attach a hose to the hole drilled at the base of the bin.  I used a tap from a broken water container in hard rubbish.
  • Hose to drain liquid waste from the bin.
  • Two pieces of irrigation pipe.
  • Silicon sealant
  • Small amount of gravel
  • Bucket with lid – if you want to have an indoor toilet and empty the bucket about once a week.  This doesn’t smell or attract flies at all if the contents are kept covered with organic matter and the lid is on when it’s not in use.
  • Toilet seat
  • Coarse organic material to add carbon and aeration to the composting system.  This could be wood shavings, dry grass clippings, autumn leaves, shredded paper, rose petals, compost or whatever else is available.  A friend was using lavender flowers for a while.





Cut the milk crate and bakery tray with a hacksaw to make a raised platform about 5cm above the base of the bin.  Alternatively place bricks in the base and lay the tray on top.  cover with screen or mesh to prevent solids falling through the platform.

Cut the irrigation pipe to a length to fit diagonally inside the bin.  Drill small holes along the length of the pipe, plenty of them.  This is to allow air to flow through the pile as it is composting, to prevent it from putrefying (no-one wants that, it would be stinky).

Drill a hole in the side of the bin, as close to the base as possible.  This is for liquids to be drained out.

Attach a tap or plumbing bit into the hole.  There are bits available for this purpose, that seal in place with plastic washers. Otherwise use silicon sealant to prevent leaks.

Attach the hose to the tap, and bury the other end of the hose in the ground, surrounded by gravel, so that the liquids can drain.  This should be away from where vegetables are growing.  This liquid contains pathogens so should not be left on the soil surface.  If urine is kept separate most of the time the amount of liquid should be minimal.

Place a layer of bulking matter in the bin, small twigs or straw or something airy, and you’re ready to go!

You have a few options for the next bit.  You could build an outhouse around the bin, or put it in a shed or outdoor laundry with a squatting platform, and deposit directly into it.

Otherwise you could put a bucket in your bathroom and build a commode around it, or place a toilet seat directly on the bucket.  Some go even more low tech and simply squat over the bucket.

Add a handful of carbon material every time you go, enough to cover it.

When a bin is full, leave it to break down for 6months to a year.  Adding compost worms can help with the composting process.  Unlike most people, worms like nothing better than living in a pile of poo.  They tend to die during heatwaves though, unless they are kept cool.

After a few months of composting in the bin, the contents can be buried under the ground.  It may still contain pathogens so it’s best not to leave it on the soil surface.  Burying it near fruit trees, or as new trees are planted, makes the best use of the stuff.


One response to this post.

  1. wow great toilet idea.


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