Composting toilet-5gal bucket, box and seat for comfort, sawdust, compost pile. Cost-next to nothing. Environmental and fertilizer value- priceless. For everything else there is master card. LOL I don't know about you but the idea of burning poop sounds even smellier than a humanure pile.
I have seen ads for those incinerating toilets! At first I thought it was funny, but then maybe it is a good idea. No chance of coliform bacteria surviving that! and you could use them in places where you can't put a septic tank.
A composting toilet consists of indoor parts that look alot like a flush toilet except it looks like the tank is beneath instead of behind and there's a vent pipe going up through the roof. It's alot like the toilets on airplanes or trains with the waterless bowl and flapper bottom. Your compost toilet must be several feet above ground level to accomodate the outside part which is the composter itself. With an assortment of vents, fans, and hardworking microbes, the waste is turned into a small amount of pure compost that empties from a tray. This type of toilet runs somewhere in the area of $1,200 (www.envirolet.com)
The Incinerating Toilet:
This one is totally cool. It requires no plumbing, venting or outside apparatus. It also looks pretty conventional. When it's time to use the toilet, you drop a paper liner in the bowl and go. At the press of a button, the paper and contained waste will drop into the bottom and be FRIED into a tiny pile of harmless ashes. My own personal misgivings about this come from having a 4 year old in the house. I'm not so concerned about HIS safety, as his TOYS' safety (let's see what happens to a matchbox car in the Inferno. Awesome! Now Teddy's turn) If you have no small children or have better control over yours than I do mine, and go shopping for this type of system, expect to spend about $1,700. (www.incineret.com)
But let's say our Homesteaders have no source of the electricity that both these options require.
And maybe, just maybe, they have better things to do with several thousand dollars than buy toilets. Fear not, for there is always
The Sawdust Toilet:
This is basically an outhouse in reverse. With a sawdust toilet, a 5 gallon bucket is fitted with a toilet seat and several inches of sawdust are placed in the bottom as a starting layer. Each time the toilet is used, more sawdust is added. This keeps the contents from attracting bugs and repelling humans. Once the bucket is filled, it's taken out to the compost bin, emptied and covered. It's recommended that the compost bin have 3 sections- 1 for fresh compost, 1 for last year's compost (to be used as needed) and 1 for surplus sawdust storage. Cost for your Sawdust toilet and compost bins- under $200.
The problem with a sawdust toilet idea is that, in a termite-prone area, it would be a magnet for the little critters..they love the stuff.
If you live in an isolated rural area I think an old-style pit toilet is the best solution- the part that some people get wrong is not providing an air intake somewhere near the base of the pit so that arobic bacteria can process the waste as quickly and as efficiently as possible, and to set one up costs next to nothing. Our home is solar-powered, in a dryish country, so we really didn't have an option of a flushing toilet, or the power ( or money) for a composting one.
Please don't pass over phicks' comment. You don't have to be in Viet Nam for human waste to be deadly. We have heavy metals and dioxins in our bodies, for starters (not to mention the ubiquitous fire retardants: PCBs and PBDEs and a few thousand other toxins). Yes, we do excrete some of this stuff.
Before you use any commercial product containing sewage sludge, you may want to find out whether the company tests their product for heavy metals, and what those test results are. Otherwise, you're recycling some of the most toxic substances around.
There's a reason that the incidence of neurological diseases is rising. And endocrine conditions (such as hypothyroidism) are epidemic. There are just too many neurotoxins and endocrine disrupting chemicals in our bodies.
Sorry to be such a prophet of doom, but do protect yourselves. Not knowing about toxicity is costing a lot of lives.
I'm from Montana and it's amazing the amount of pollution contained in that state. Much of it is from heavy mining activity. Gold requires leaching, so that might be where the mercury got into so much of the water. That or arsenic, can't remember.
Plus nasty emissions from smelting operations & sawmills & natural pollution from constant forest fires.
You could get away with a lot in Montana because there weren't enough people to notice. When I was a kid, Missoula was a toxic soup. We lived right next to a sawmill that had THREE tepee burners going right in the middle of town. The valley still gets "inversions," which is when cold air traps smoggy warmer air, but it's much cleaner now.
Just not the pristine mecca that people might envision. (Of course, parts of it still are, simply from lack of population pressure.)
I didn't grow up here, but I'm sure summerkid's description is accurate. Mercury levels are high enough in many lakes and streams that we are advised not to eat the fish. Now there's a cement plant upwind from Bozeman that is applying (for the umpteenth time) for a permit to burn tires (a source of dioxins). And the emissions monitoring is practically non-existent.
However, everyone is being exposed. Thanks to the dental profession, our greatest exposure to mercury is in our mouths. If you have metal fillings, there is mercury in them (35 to 50%). Even the WHO has now admitted that we get toxic exposure from dental amalgams. Only the ADA and the AMA are still in denial, mainly because of the ADA's vested interests and liability issues. Several countries have outlawed amalgam fillings.
I know this is a shock to a lot of people. But if you have some unexplained, chronic condition that no one has been able to diagnose, and you have amalgam fillings, start doing your research now. It could save you years of grief. It took me 11 years to get diagnosed.
If this seems like I've sidetracked, excuse me. The main point is that sewage is full of contaminants, even after it's composted or incinerated.
You don't need a cement plant or mining operation to have heavy metal contamination. Vermont also has a huge problem with it in areas that lack industry. What they do have is a lot of old cars, trucks and tractors that folks have driven into a river or lake, or buried in the ground for disposal. Lots of toxics eroding off these abandoned vehicles. Many areas have this problem.
In terms of safely processing the humanure, I recommend checking into Effective Microbe "technology". This has proven very effective in bioremediation. The right microbes can render many toxic substances inert.
That's a wonderful resource, garden mermaid. I see that the second link has a treatment for septic systems.
I have also heard of a clay called zeolite being used for heavy metal decontamination and radioactive decontamination. It was used to clean up after the Chernobyl meltdown, in fact. But I don't know anything about its effectiveness, except that we have bags of zeolite hanging in our basement for odor removal, and it works for that. We are also hoping that it is absorbing the radon we've detected (until we have time to do the pipe-type radon mitigation).