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Creating Compost

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Hello readers! Toilet Equity has some exciting new updates, one of which is the creation of our compost pile. Composting is crucial to the success of our project and we hope this blog helps you to better understand the process. According to the Humanure Handbook written by Joseph Jenkins, compost has three components: humans make or manage it, the process generates internal biological heat, and the organisms that proliferate in the compost do so in the presence of oxygen which makes it an aerobic process.

First we start with the basics. Our compost pile is approximately 2.6 x 1.8 meters to achieve a minimum of 1 cubic meter of compost volume.

As you can see, it’s nothing fancy, just a small, contained space. The base of the pile consists of pulled weeds and other biological growth that was cleared out to build the site. Straw will be layered on top to act as a “sponge” for excess liquid.

Once we have a toilet placed, we will start to add to the pile weekly with the feces collected in the toilet. It is important to note that our toilets are not “composting toilets” as they don’t have the volume to aerobically compost feces inside them. Instead they are collection receptacles or “biologic toilets” that collect feces before it is transported and added to the compost site.

We will use sawdust (graciously donated by one of our community partners, Sawmill Unlimited) as a carbon rich additive to absorb excess liquid and balance the carbon and nitrogen ratio to reduce the chance of ammonia off gassing and fecal odors. After we add the contents of the toilet receptacles, we will surround the pile with straw and place a layer of straw on top to insulate the pile and maintain temperature.

We will repeat this process until our pile fills the intended space. When we have grown our pile to at least a cubic meter, we will top it off with a thicker layer of straw and insert compost thermometers into the pile to monitor the temperature of the pile. Then it’s up to the bacteria to work their magic.

Bacteria are the essential component of the compost process and thermophilic (heat loving) bacteria are the champs of the compost pile. Thermophilic bacteria generate high temperatures, creating the heat in the pile. These types of bacteria love to eat human excrement, organic materials, and dead animals, and work tirelessly to create compost. Once the temperature of our pile is 60 degrees celsius or 140 degrees fahrenheit for three consecutive days all human pathogenic bacteria will be killed. After about a year the pile will reach thermal stability, meaning the pile has cooled to the temperature of the surrounding air, and our composting process will be complete!

Making natural US EPA grade A compost has never been so simple.

December 5, 2023 edit: We've upped our compost game! Read more in our updated blog post.

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1 Comment

Rebecca Mullen
Rebecca Mullen
Dec 01, 2023

I trust you and this team to educate me about compost. Thanks for this bit of info.

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