Chapter Five: Outfitting
Comments 30

Off-Grid Bathroom

Version 2

Components of a simple off-grid bathroom:

  1. Sawdust toilet.
  2. Hand-washing system.
  3. Class.

If you or yours plan on shitting in a bucket, make it a nice bucket. This compost toilet was based on the design described in The Humanure Handbook with some amendments including an integral sawdust cabinet with alder root handle. It’s made of oak veneered plywood using the kerf bending technique to achieve a rounded profile and conceals a 5-gallon bucket.

The hand washing system uses two 20-liter, stainless steel containers by Superfustinox.

The bathroom is zero-waste since composted toilet contents and greywater may be used on the garden. Completely self-contained, it can set up anywhere: like in this early 20th-century ranch outbuilding.



      • We have a composting loo which is in a wooden chest that we bought in India, it looks very nice, very ornate, but is too big for the bathroom we need to house it in, I was thinking of a round cob base to house the bucket, but now I’ve seen Daniels, that’s the one for us 🙂


  1. I have tested this toilet completely and repeatedly, and have also done the job of emptying the bucket on the compost pile. I am happy to report its functioning is surpassed only by its beauty. Thumbs up!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cynthia Taylor says

    Prefer an Incinolet. It incinerates so the ash is for the garden and solar will provide the energy.


    • g2-f860c119b2f456da18e9ad82abe96aeb says

      ash is not as helpful to the garden as compost. this unit is better for the garden.


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  4. We will be building a tiny house as a 4H project with all my 4H kids this year. I would like it to be totally off grid, as we are also teaching self-sustainability to our kids. I guess my biggest question is of course, the “SMELL” factor. I am very sensitive to smells, (I know odd for a farm gal!!!) so smells in the house would really bother me. I don’t have experience, so was wondering what the “smell” factor is. Thanks so much! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea!!!!!!!!


    • Hi, Myra

      As long as each user “flushes” with a complete covering of sawdust, there’s absolutely no bad smell. The sawdust smells fantastic and forms a bio-filter to prevent odor and flies. If you’re planning on setting up a system for large groups (your 4-H kids) you should definitely read The Humanure Handbook. We just hosted a class at the ranch with a dozen students; we emptied the bucket once and students commented on how lovely their experience was.

      Keep me posted!


      • Agree, no smell at all, either in the house or at the composting bins. I find that people not used to composting toilets over-compensate by adding far too much sawdust, which is ok, just need to empty them more often 🙂


      • g2-f860c119b2f456da18e9ad82abe96aeb says

        I use coconut coir instead of sawdust, but the end result is the same. Thumbs up!


  5. Thank you so much!!! I am very excited about doing this project with my 4Her’s!! I am hoping that we can then auction the tiny house off to raise fund for our local 4H club! My family and I will also be building a tiny house for us too and would like to be off grid! What a wonderful group of people!!!! Thank you!!!!


  6. We used this system in our tiny trailer and plan to install it at the Homestead. The sawdust or feline pine litter is very pleasant smelling. We use a pine, cedar, corn litter in our cat box, which completely eliminates the foul odors.


  7. thanks for the posting – i just joined your list

    oh – generally, you can purchase coconut ‘coir” at an astute gardening center
    —- i sell it at my store = i will not sell peat – not enviro. friendly
    Doug’s Organic Gardening Center
    Wenatchee, Washington
    but, i do sell fir saw-dust and fir & pine shavings


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  9. Valerie says

    For Robynd
    Where do you get
    The cat litter blend you speak of .

    Do your this is lieu of sawdust ?
    Do you make it yourself ?
    If so what is the recipe?
    Thank you .


    • Valerie, sorry for taking so long to respond. We are currently using a pine, cedar, corn blend that clumps. Itbis made by Tidy Cat and we have gotten it from Target and Walmart. We have also used Feline pine, available at Target, Walmart, Petsmart, etc. Feline pine is untreated, compressed pine pellets. They break down into sawdust as they absorb moisture and kill the bad smells. The other blend is loose, not compressed and seems to work even better. I have not researched whether it is treated with chemicals or not. I think loose sawdust would be more effective than the pellets, but have not found an affordable source.


      • Lumber mills or wood shops in your area will likely be happy to bag up their sawdust for you. Just make sure they haven’t been sawing any chemically treated wood (“pressure” treated lumber = chemical treated lumber). Wood preservative chemicals kill beneficial microorganisms.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Guys,

    Whats the finish on the walls called? I’d like to replicate it at my house!

    By the way, we just built this toilet! Almost exactly the same, just a wooden seat not a pink one! Love it!!! Pretty much just copying everything because you have done such a beautiful job!!!!


    • Hi, Leah

      Thanks! I’d love to see some pictures of what you built.

      The walls in the room are mortared stone; there is a rustic plaster over that. It’s in an old ranch building, probably built around 75-100 years ago.


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