Monday, November 26, 2012

"The Privy" - the Indoor Outhouse

I have decided to talk about my privy. I usually avoid talking about this subject with others because I know most people think it's just completely disgusting.

The privy is under the stairwell in the garage, but the framing for the stairs contains it in its own area. It has a door to outside, and some open, uninsulated framing allows access from inside the garage. Eventually, there will be a door there. 

The privy is a 4 bucket system. The buckets are the five gallon kind you get from the hardware store. 
  • Bucket #1 is the liquid bucket. It is a bucket with a lid placed firmly on it. The lid has a hole cut in it to receive a large automotive funnel. Inside the bucket, a one gallon milk carton has been cut out just enough at the top to receive the funnel. There is a ping-pong ball in the big funnel. So, when you urinate, the urine goes into the funnel, which causes the ping-pong ball to rise, allowing the urine to pass into the milk carton. The ping-pong ball stops any bad smells from escaping. Paper will not go down the funnel and must be put in the trash bin. The milk carton should be emptied and rinsed out once a day, preferably at night (so it doesn't sit around all night.)
  • Bucket #2 is the solid bucket. It is a bucket with a special lid that looks like a toilet seat and lid. A biodegradable can liner is put inside the bucket. If possible, only feces should go in the bucket, as urine in composting toilets is usually what makes them smell bad and generally fail to do what they say they will. Put a little of the peat moss in the bottom of the bucket, then use. Cover with peat moss. Repeat as necessary. Remove liner when bucket is about half-full, or at least every week. If it begins to smell bad, remove the liner as this may indicate flies have laid eggs.
  • Bucket #3 is a trash bucket with a lid and a biodegradable can liner so it can be easily emptied. 
  • Bucket #4 contains peat moss, sawdust, or something similar to absorb moisture in bucket #2.
Bury the biodegradable bags in the yard. Rinse the buckets out once a week and air dry in the sun.

Now, this is an unconventional system, and Son of Caveman is oddly conventional, and he seriously balked at this idea when it was first proposed. But we had no bathroom last year for at almost two months, and his only other option was to take some tissue to the woods. So he tried it. When we got a bathroom, I asked him how he felt about the bucket system, and he said it was perfectly fine with him, it wasn't smelly or nasty, and he didn't mind it a bit, as long as he never had to empty or clean anything. And he never did.

We were in a pretty rough place when we last regularly used the privy, so we only had a bin of hand sanitizer to clean up afterwards, although there was (and is) a nice utility sink ten feet away in the garage. We plan to make the permanent privy much nicer in the future, with a lot of stainless steel and real wood. It's hard to convince yourself to go downstairs to the brown-recluse ridden garage privy when there's a nice modern (well, to 1920's standards, anyway) bathroom upstairs. Besides, it was full of gardening tools from the time we last used it up until last week, and we're in winter mode now. Brrr.

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