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Old 03-05-2010, 09:57 PM
 
29,990 posts, read 18,683,229 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissingAll4Seasons View Post
OK - environmental issues with outhouses: since you're crapping in a pit and then covering it up, you're creating an anaerobic decompostion cycle. Most pathogens thrive in anaerobic conditions, not in aerobic (fresh air composting). It's easy to tell the difference - anaerobic stinks and aerobic doesn't. Only s**t that is wet and deprived of oxygen stinks for more than a few minutes. It also take a lot longer for your crap and TP to breakdown in a hole sealed away from air and sunlight. So, if you live in a watershed or any place with a high water table, all your poo bugs that are now thriving in megacolonies thanks to anaerobic decomp, start leaching into the ground water (this is also a problem with septic tanks BTW). Even once the hole is full and buried, it can take a very long time to completely decompose and stop leaching. Anything you add to your pit, like lime or ashes, also has the potential to leach into the groundwater and nearby soils which can totally mess up the pH and/or create an environment for bad beasties to get out of control.

Now, I've used city sewer, septic tanks, sealed pit latrines (that have to be pumped out), au naturale outhouses, commercial composting toilets, and bucket toilets. They all have their advantages and disadvantages depending on how you look at. If you're afraid or ashamed of your own poop, using clean (or even gray) water to whisk it away out of sight and mind could be considered an advantage. Of course, even using gray water to flush a toilet makes that water BLACK water, and it can't be reused after that without some sort of treatment. Anyone who's ever had to have a septic tank or pit latrine pumped out knows the disadvantages already (it takes forever for that smell to go away!!). Anyone who's ever had relocate their othouse only to find that their new intended location has already been used and that there is still crap down there, or tried to excavate or cultivate on their land only to find an old pit, can tell you what a major inconvenience that is! Composting means you have to deal with your poop up close and personal, you have to keep those nasty dogs out of the dung heap, and you have to take a little extra care to cure the compost properly and use it properly.

So, if your main concern is the environment, using water or enshrining your s**t in a burial chamber are probably the worst options. If your main concern is health and safety, using any method that promotes anaerobic decompostion and pathogen overgrowth, and/or that contaminates the water/soil is probably the worst option.

Now, I'm sure someone would make a pretty penny figuring a way to compress and dry human feces into nice burnable biomass bricks for heat and power generation... cuz dry s**t burns REALLY well without any accelerants at all
Powering homes with human poo | Yahoo! Green

http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/1484/70/
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Old 03-05-2010, 09:58 PM
 
Location: Houston TX
11 posts, read 13,886 times
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Default My Dad, Too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisC View Post
My father has some stories about that!
Is it similar to with kids wrapping trees, but instead it takes a bit more strength to lift it to the roof!
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Old 03-05-2010, 10:07 PM
 
2,844 posts, read 1,858,094 times
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Amish Man Jailed for Outhouse Non-Compliance

Andy Swartzentruber, of Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, was ordered to spend 90 days in jail and pay $1,000 for failing to bring two outhouses, used by schoolchildren, into compliance with county codes.
Mr. Swartzentruber and church elder Sam Yoder cited religious beliefs for not allowing soil samples to be taken from land surrounding a community school, which 18 children attend, after they were told to stop dumping raw sewage on the ground.
Cambria County Judge Norman Krumenacker, who said he had no choice but to pass the sentence, said: "Quite frankly, this is not a religious issue," and also ordered the school and outhouses padlocked.
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Old 03-07-2010, 03:29 PM
 
Location: Lynbrook
517 posts, read 1,646,309 times
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Since someone brought up the idea of septic tanks...I'm curious about that stuff that people flush that's supposed to help speed the decomposition in septic tanks. I think its called Rid-X. Would that work for outhouses as well? Or would that be worse in terms of contamination of ground water?
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Old 03-07-2010, 03:38 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
21,320 posts, read 26,134,564 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarenBo View Post
Since someone brought up the idea of septic tanks...I'm curious about that stuff that people flush that's supposed to help speed the decomposition in septic tanks. I think its called Rid-X. Would that work for outhouses as well? Or would that be worse in terms of contamination of ground water?
I have been told repeatedly by different septic professionals that 'Rid-X' does nothing.

It serves no purpose.
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Old 03-07-2010, 04:14 PM
 
Location: Interior AK
4,697 posts, read 4,786,955 times
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I've heard the same as Beekeeper -- Rid-X and the other "enzyme treatments" for septics tanks either do nothing, or they speed up the wrong portion of the process which creates more of the foamy sludge layer instead of letting the dense sludge settle... and all that foamy stuff gets into your leach field and clogs it all up.

Every pro I've ever talked to said the best things to do to keep your septic system working properly is to avoid putting any grease or protein down the drains (no garbage disposals!), use (fast) biodegradable toilet paper, even out when large amounts of water enter the system (i.e. don't do your laundry all at once or while you're showering, or while it's raining etc), and have it pumped and cleaned/flushed every 2-3 years. All them agreed that the treatments did more harm than good.
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Old 03-07-2010, 04:20 PM
 
Location: Interior AK
4,697 posts, read 4,786,955 times
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Yep - if you have your "septic system" set up as a true anaerobic digester and you can keep the tank hot enough, you can create your own bio-gas that is similar to propane or natural gas (after you filter and pressurize it). You can do that with human poo or any other animal poo (people are doing it with hog & cattle lagoons now too).

But, you can also go old school, just let it dry out and burn it like people have been doing forever with cow chips I think it would work fairly well in an outdoor boiler scenario since it does tend to be just a tiny bit aromatic.
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Old 03-09-2010, 10:31 AM
 
Location: SW Missouri
14,650 posts, read 16,109,624 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifelongMOgal View Post
Interesting, I wasn't aware of this. Is it a state "law" or code in certain cities/counties? It was my understanding that the reason Mennonites moved to Arkansas had to do with the photo requirement on the driver's license. I didn't know about the Amish/outhouse connection to the Arkansas migration.

Pretty funny thread really. Folks used to conider it "unclean" to do their business inside the house, thus outhouses remained popular just out of cleanliness even after the advent of indoor plumbing. I recall my mother telling a story of some elderly relatives being given the gift of $$ with which to add an indoor bathroom. They were aghast at the suggestion of having that dirty thing inside and instead used the money to "tile" the inside of the outhouse.....I kid you not.
You're correct. Missouri law does allow an outhouse to be the only form of waste management if you own 3 acres or more. However, the state gives the county and other government entities the authority to make their own rules where this is concerned, and many counties (such as mine) have instituted more stringent requirements. Thank you for mentioning this.

Why would Amish people need a driver's license?

20yrsinBranson
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Old 03-09-2010, 10:53 AM
 
29,990 posts, read 18,683,229 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 20yrsinBranson View Post
You're correct. Missouri law does allow an outhouse to be the only form of waste management if you own 3 acres or more. However, the state gives the county and other government entities the authority to make their own rules where this is concerned, and many counties (such as mine) have instituted more stringent requirements. Thank you for mentioning this.

Why would Amish people need a driver's license?

20yrsinBranson
Re-read...that was the Mennonites (not Amish) who moved because of the driver's license requirements.

Is your's a county close to a major metro area? My rural county has NO zoning until one gets inside the city limits. The largest major metro area is in the next county and more than 50 miles to my part of my county so we see no such outhouse zoning requirements. Heck, rural water has only been a reality for about 15 yrs. . Before that it was cistern/well only. Still have those to fall back upon if there is a major break somewhere up the line.

Interesting info. about the enzyme additives not doing anything. I purchased a book on septic systems so I could manage mine correctly and it did not mention septic tx. as being ineffective. I use Roebic brand treatment & root killer as the tx. is bi-annual rather than monthly.

32oz Septic Treatment by Roebic Laboratories - More Chemical drain cleaners at doitbest.com

2lb Root Killer by Roebic Laboratories - More Chemical drain cleaners at doitbest.com

I had considered changing to the CLR product but now I'm confused as to whether using an enzyme tx. is more harmful than beneficial.

I'll add that the water table is somewhat high in my area and clay soil is the norm but I had a soil perk test done prior to installing this new system 4 yrs. ago to determine the location of the leach field.

Last edited by lifelongMOgal; 03-09-2010 at 11:04 AM..
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Old 03-09-2010, 03:50 PM
 
Location: So. of Rosarito, Baja, Mexico
5,045 posts, read 9,291,771 times
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To the person that wanted to experience a Squat form of toilet...simple to make one like I saw in 1951 Japan.

Build a old style small outhouse with a wooden floor using 6-8 in wide floor boards.
Dig a deep hole and place bldg over hole.
Remove the center board leaving an opening 12-18 in length.
Now you have a Squat toilet same as Japan.
The difference would be that they had theirs indoors with an access door to remove contents from outside of the house and generally used as fertilizer in the fields.
Primative but functional for the time period.

Steve
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